LG 29″ UltraWide | Monitor Upgrade and Configuration on Linux

I have historically made my hardware decisions based on price, generally I get what I can get for as low or as reasonable as possible. Basically, I go for free or near-free and fabri-cobble something together. After seeing some other computer setups, I have really thought that I want to be able to function more effectively and efficiently than I had been. One of the areas that I have been less than happy has been my monitor layout. I have been pushing 3 displays with my Dell Latitude E6440 and for the most part, it has been meeting my needs but there were some work flows that have not been working out so well.

What I had before was a kind of ah-hoc solution. I started with one monitor than wanted more screen real estate so I placed it off to one side because that is just what made sense at the time.

What I had here was a laptop screen with 1920×1080 (FDH) resolution. A monitor directly above with a resolution of 1440×900 (WXGA+) and off to the top right a screen with the resolution of 1280×1024 (SXGA). Both of those monitors I purchased for $10 each from a company upgrading everything. I was pretty happy as going from one monitor to a second was fantastic and adding a third made it even better.

The problem I ran into was that the monitor above was not Full HD and sometimes it made for some usability issues with certain applications. That was compounded by having a monitor to the right with a physically slightly taller display but pixel wise, quite a bit taller and it just made things weird when moving from monitor to monitor.

The solution presented to me by my e-friend, Mauro Gaspari is ultimately what I started to pursue when he sent me a picture of his screen setup on Telegram. What he had (probably still has) is a 1440p monitor. I had never seen such a thing, it was so clean and made so much sense, especially with the ability to tile windows. So, began my search and measuring to see what was feasable. Fast forward to about eight months later, I purchased the LG 29WK50S-P. This is a 2560×1080, 29″ with a 60Hz refresh rate.

Initially I wanted to go with a 3440×1440 (WQHD) screen but I couldn’t get one at the size and price I wanted. Since I don’t have a whole lot of space and the distance it will be away from my face, any bigger than 29″ diagonal would take up too much space. I also didn’t want to spend a whole lot so what I payed was $179.10 for this monitor and I am quite happy with the price. Sure, more than the $10 I spent on the last monitor but a heck of a lot more pixels.

Features

The description of this this monitor is a 29 Inch Class 21:9 UltraWide® Full HD IPS LED Monitor with AMD FreeSync. It has the following features

  • AMD FreeSync™ Technology
  • Dynamic Action Sync
  • Black Stabilizer
  • OnScreen Control
  • Smart Energy Saving
  • Screen Split to give you different picture choices with the monitor.

None of these features were all that important to me. What I was most concerned about was the resolution and VESA mount. The split screen feature, to which I mostly don’t care about, is intriguing as I could use the second display input and do some testing on other distributions with another computer.

I really wasn’t asking for much in a monitor, really. I am going to take advantage of the AMD FreeSync at this time either but it is nice to know it’s there.

Initial Setup

I have been spoiled in openSUSE Linux for years and years. I haven’t really had to fiddle with anything to get my computer to use hardware. I expected this ultra-wide monitor to be just as un-fiddly but it wasn’t. For whatever reason. The display didn’t recognize to computer its proper resolution.

I don’t know why if it is because it falls under the “other” resolution category or if there is some other issue. I am running Tumbleweed so I do have the latest drivers and since this monitor has been around for a while, I wasn’t expecting any issues.

The Plasma Display Settings didn’t give me the option of 2560×1080 at all, a quick DuckDuckGo search which brought me to the solution to my troubles here on the openSUSE forum. I started out by using some “old school” xrandr commands.

First I started out by defining a new mode:

xrandr --newmode "2560x1080_60.00"  230.76  2560 2728 3000 3440  1080 1081 1084 1118  -HSync +Vsync

Then I added a mode to the specific output.

xrandr --addmode HDMI-3 2560x1080_60.00

Then I sent the command to change the mode of the screen

xrandr --output HDMI-3 --mode 2560x1080_60.00

This worked but it is not a permanent solution as the next time I were to reboot, I would lose these settings. That made it time to do an Xorg configuration file for this monitor. Thankfully, it is just one simple text document.

Permanent Solution

Using the handy dandy terminal, once again, I navigated to the appropriate folder

cd /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/

Then instead of creating a standard type of file that could be overwritten like “50-monitor.conf“, I created a custom one for this particular monitor.

sudo nano 49-LG29WK50S.conf

There is not much in this configuration file, just the modeline and preferred mode along with the Identifier of HDMI-3:

Section "Monitor"
   Identifier "HDMI-3"
   Modeline "2560x1080_60.00"  230.76  2560 2728 3000 3440  1080 1081 1084 1118  -HSync +Vsync
   Option "PreferredMode" "2560x1080_60.00"
EndSection

This allowed for the Plasma Display module to now have the proper mode available in the drop down and for me to do arrange the screen properly.

And now doing something like video editing feels a lot cleaner and the width only makes this task so much nicer to accomplish.

It’s not a perfect setup but it is a more perfect setup than what I had. What is nice is that I can very easily tile windows and jump to different applications without playing the, “where did I go” game.

I don’t know if I have any games yet that take advantage of the ultra-wide screen layout but from a productivity standpoint, this is fantastic.

I have been using it as the monitor with which I do CAD and I do like the wider display much better as the side menus are never in the way of the model itself. Also, the extended design history is almost entirely seen on larger models too.

Final Thoughts

Although the DPI is not the same between the laptop and the ultra-wide, I am happy with it. I don’t even know if I would want this monitor smaller or if maybe it is time to go up to a 15″ laptops screen. That would make the DPI closer to being the same between the laptop and the monitor. I am happy with it after one day of usage and over time, I am sure I will find irritations with the setup.

I want to note that I didn’t go for the curved screen. I don’t think I am quite ready for such a “radical” idea of having a screen curved towards me. Would it have been better? Maybe, I can’t really say and maybe the next screen I purchase will be curved so that I can compare. The way I see it, going from 16:9 resolution to 64:27 (21:9) was enough of a jump. Adding another bit of unfamiliarity of a curve in the display might have just thrown me off (insert smile emoji).

I have more “testing” to do with the monitor but for the $179.10 I spent on it, I think it was worth it. The contrast is nice, the brightness is nice, everything is very pleasing. This might very well be one of the best technology purchases I have made. I much prefer this to the ad-hoc, fabri-cobbled setup I previously had.

References

Ultrawide Monitor Help on the openSUSE Forum
LG 29WK50S-P Ultrawide LED Monitor product page
Display Resolutions on Wikipedia

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