XF86Config(5) File Formats Manual XF86Config(5)
XF86Config - Configuration File for XFree86
XFree86 supports several mechanisms for supplying/obtaining configuration and run-time parameters: command line options, environment vari-
ables, the XF86Config configuration file, auto-detection, and fallback defaults. When the same information is supplied in more than one
way, the highest precedence mechanism is used. The list of mechanisms is ordered from highest precedence to lowest. Note that not all
parameters can be supplied via all methods. The available command line options and environment variables (and some defaults) are described
in the Xserver(1) and XFree86(1) manual pages. Most configuration file parameters, with their defaults, are described below. Driver and
module specific configuration parameters are described in the relevant driver or module manual page.
Starting with version 4.4, XFree86 has support for generating a usable configuration at run-time when no XF86Config file is provided. The
initial version of this automatic configuration support is targeted at the most popular hardware and software platforms supported by
XFree86. Some details about how this works can be found in the XFree86(1) and getconfig(1) manual pages.
Starting with version 4.5, it is possible for this automatically generated configuration to supplement a partial static configuration. The
partial static configuration can be used to provide non-default configuration details for things that are not currently handled by the
automatic configuration mechanism.
XFree86 uses a configuration file called XF86Config for its initial setup. This configuration file is searched for in the following places
when the server is started as a normal user:
where <cmdline> is a relative path (with no ".." components) specified with the -xf86config command line option, $XF86CONFIG is the rela-
tive path (with no ".." components) specified by that environment variable, and <hostname> is the machine's hostname as reported by geth-
When the XFree86 server is started by the "root" user, the config file search locations are as follows:
where <cmdline> is the path specified with the -xf86config command line option (which may be absolute or relative), $XF86CONFIG is the path
specified by that environment variable (absolute or relative), $HOME is the path specified by that environment variable (usually the home
directory), and <hostname> is the machine's hostname as reported by gethostname(3).
The XF86Config file is composed of a number of sections which may be present in any order. Each section has the form:
The section names are:
Files File pathnames
ServerFlags Server flags
Module Dynamic module loading
InputDevice Input device description
Device Graphics device description
VideoAdaptor Xv video adaptor description
Monitor Monitor description
Modes Video modes descriptions
Screen Screen configuration
ServerLayout Overall layout
DRI DRI-specific configuration
Vendor Vendor-specific configuration
The following obsolete section names are still recognised for compatibility purposes. In new config files, the InputDevice section should
be used instead.
Keyboard Keyboard configuration
Pointer Pointer/mouse configuration
The old XInput section is no longer recognised.
The ServerLayout sections are at the highest level. They bind together the input and output devices that will be used in a session. The
input devices are described in the InputDevice sections. Output devices usually consist of multiple independent components (e.g., and
graphics board and a monitor). These multiple components are bound together in the Screen sections, and it is these that are referenced by
the ServerLayout section. Each Screen section binds together a graphics board and a monitor. The graphics boards are described in the
Device sections, and the monitors are described in the Monitor sections.
Config file keywords are case-insensitive, and "_" characters are ignored. Most strings (including Option names) are also case-insensi-
tive, and insensitive to white space and "_" characters.
Each config file entry usually takes up a single line in the file. They consist of a keyword, which is possibly followed by one or more
arguments, with the number and types of the arguments depending on the keyword. The argument types are:
Integer an integer number in decimal, hex or octal
Real a floating point number
String a string enclosed in double quote marks (")
Note: hex integer values must be prefixed with "0x", and octal values with "0".
A special keyword called Option may be used to provide free-form data to various components of the server. The Option keyword takes either
one or two string arguments. The first is the option name, and the optional second argument is the option value. Some commonly used
option value types include:
Integer an integer number in decimal, hex or octal
Real a floating point number
String a sequence of characters
Boolean a boolean value (see below)
Frequency a frequency value (see below)
Note that all Option values, not just strings, must be enclosed in quotes.
Boolean options may optionally have a value specified. When no value is specified, the option's value is TRUE. The following boolean
option values are recognised as TRUE:
1, on, true, yes
and the following boolean option values are recognised as FALSE:
0, off, false, no
If an option name is prefixed with "No", then the option value is negated.
Example: the following option entries are equivalent:
Option "Accel" "Off"
Option "NoAccel" "On"
Option "Accel" "false"
Option "Accel" "no"
Frequency option values consist of a real number that is optionally followed by one of the following frequency units:
Hz, k, kHz, M, MHz
When the unit name is omitted, the correct units will be determined from the value and the expectations of the appropriate range of the
value. It is recommended that the units always be specified when using frequency option values to avoid any errors in determining the
The config file may have multiple Files sections. These are used to specify some path names required by the server. Earlier Files sec-
tions have priority over later sections. This means that a path name specified in a Files section cannot be overridden by a later Files
section (this behaviour may change in the future). Some of these paths can also be set from the command line (see Xserver(1) and
XFree86(1)). The command line settings override the values specified in the config file. The Files section is optional, as are all of the
entries that may appear in it.
The entries that can appear in this section are:
specifies an optional identifying name for the Files section.
sets the search path for fonts. This path is a comma separated list of font path elements which the XFree86 server searches for
font databases. Multiple FontPath entries may be specified, and they will be concatenated to build up the fontpath used by the
server. Font path elements may be either absolute directory paths, or a font server identifier. Font server identifiers have the
where <trans> is the transport type to use to connect to the font server (e.g., unix for UNIX-domain sockets or tcp for a TCP/IP
connection), <hostname> is the hostname of the machine running the font server, and <port-number> is the port number that the font
server is listening on (usually 7100).
When this entry is not specified in the config file, the server falls back to the compiled-in default font path, which contains the
following font path elements:
The recommended font path contains the following font path elements:
Font path elements that are found to be invalid are removed from the font path when the server starts up.
sets the path name for the RGB color database. When this entry is not specified in the config file, the server falls back to the
compiled-in default RGB path, which is:
Note that an implicit .txt is added to this path if the server was compiled to use text rather than binary format RGB color databases.
sets the search path for loadable XFree86 server modules. This path is a comma separated list of directories which the XFree86
server searches for loadable modules loading in the order specified. Multiple ModulePath entries may be specified, and they will be
concatenated to build the module search path used by the server.
Option flags may be specified in Files sections.
The config file may have multiple ServerFlags sections. These are used to specify some global XFree86 server options. Earlier ServerFlags
sections have priority over later sections. This means that an option specified in a ServerFlags section cannot be overridden by a later
ServerFlags section. Except for the Identifier entry, all of the entries in this section are Options, although for compatibility purposes
some of the old style entries are still recognised. Those old style entries are not documented here, and using them is discouraged. The
ServerFlags section is optional, as are the entries that may be specified in it.
Options specified in this section (with the exception of the "DefaultServerLayout" Option) may be overridden by Options specified in the
active ServerLayout section. Options with command line equivalents are overridden when their command line equivalent is used. Entries
recognised by this section are:
specifies an optional identifying name for the ServerFlags section.
Option "DefaultServerLayout" "layout-id"
This specifies the default ServerLayout section to use in the absence of the -layout command line option.
Option "NoTrapSignals" "boolean"
This prevents the XFree86 server from trapping a range of unexpected fatal signals and exiting cleanly. Instead, the XFree86 server
will die and drop core where the fault occurred. The default behaviour is for the XFree86 server to exit cleanly, but still drop a
core file. In general you never want to use this option unless you are debugging an XFree86 server problem and know how to deal
with the consequences.
Option "DontVTSwitch" "boolean"
This disallows the use of the Ctrl+Alt+Fn sequence (where Fn refers to one of the numbered function keys). That sequence is nor-
mally used to switch to another "virtual terminal" on operating systems that have this feature. When this option is enabled, that
key sequence has no special meaning and is passed to clients. Default: off.
Option "DontZap" "boolean"
This disallows the use of the Ctrl+Alt+Backspace sequence. That sequence is normally used to terminate the XFree86 server. When
this option is enabled, that key sequence has no special meaning and is passed to clients. Default: off.
Option "DontZoom" "boolean"
This disallows the use of the Ctrl+Alt+Keypad-Plus and Ctrl+Alt+Keypad-Minus sequences. These sequences allows you to switch
between video modes. When this option is enabled, those key sequences have no special meaning and are passed to clients. Default:
Option "DisableVidModeExtension" "boolean"
This disables the parts of the VidMode extension used by the xvidtune client that can be used to change the video modes. Default:
the VidMode extension is enabled.
Option "AllowNonLocalXvidtune" "boolean"
This allows the xvidtune client (and other clients that use the VidMode extension) to connect from another host. Default: off.
Option "DisableModInDev" "boolean"
This disables the parts of the XFree86-Misc extension that can be used to modify the input device settings dynamically. Default:
that functionality is enabled.
Option "AllowNonLocalModInDev" "boolean"
This allows a client to connect from another host and change keyboard and mouse settings in the running server. Default: off.
Option "AllowMouseOpenFail" "boolean"
This allows the server to start up even if the mouse device can't be opened/initialised. Default: false.
Option "VTInit" "command"
Runs command after the VT used by the server has been opened. The command string is passed to "/bin/sh -c", and is run with the
real user's id with stdin and stdout set to the VT. The purpose of this option is to allow system dependent VT initialisation com-
mands to be run. This option should rarely be needed. Default: not set.
Option "VTSysReq" "boolean"
enables the SYSV-style VT switch sequence for non-SYSV systems which support VT switching. This sequence is Alt-SysRq followed by a
function key (Fn). This prevents the XFree86 server trapping the keys used for the default VT switch sequence, which means that
clients can access them. Default: off.
Option "XkbDisable" "boolean"
disable/enable the XKEYBOARD extension. The -kb command line option overrides this config file option. Default: XKB is enabled.
Option "BlankTime" "time"
sets the inactivity timeout for the blanking phase of the screensaver. time is in minutes. This is equivalent to the XFree86
server's `-s' flag, and the value can be changed at run-time with xset(1). Default: 10 minutes.
Option "StandbyTime" "time"
sets the inactivity timeout for the "standby" phase of DPMS mode. time is in minutes, and the value can be changed at run-time with
xset(1). Default: 20 minutes. This is only suitable for VESA DPMS compatible monitors, and may not be supported by all video driv-
ers. It is only enabled for screens that have the "DPMS" option set (see the MONITOR section below).
Option "SuspendTime" "time"
sets the inactivity timeout for the "suspend" phase of DPMS mode. time is in minutes, and the value can be changed at run-time with
xset(1). Default: 30 minutes. This is only suitable for VESA DPMS compatible monitors, and may not be supported by all video driv-
ers. It is only enabled for screens that have the "DPMS" option set (see the MONITOR section below).
Option "OffTime" "time"
sets the inactivity timeout for the "off" phase of DPMS mode. time is in minutes, and the value can be changed at run-time with
xset(1). Default: 40 minutes. This is only suitable for VESA DPMS compatible monitors, and may not be supported by all video driv-
ers. It is only enabled for screens that have the "DPMS" option set (see the MONITOR section below).
Option "Pixmap" "bpp"
This sets the pixmap format to use for depth 24. Allowed values for bpp are 24 and 32. Default: 32 unless driver constraints don't
allow this (which is rare). Note: some clients don't behave well when this value is set to 24.
Option "PC98" "boolean"
Specify that the machine is a Japanese PC-98 machine. This should not be enabled for anything other than the Japanese-specific
PC-98 architecture. Default: auto-detected.
Option "Log" "logflag"
This option enables special handling for log files that may be useful when debugging certain types of problems. The values for
logflag are Flush and Sync. Flush causes the log file buffer to be flushed after each write. Sync causes the log file buffer to be
flushed and the file data to be written to the disk after each write. The default is for neither of these flags to be enabled.
Enabling these flags during normal operation may degrade performance and/or lengthen startup time.
Option "NoPM" "boolean"
Disables something to do with power management events. Default: PM enabled on platforms that support it.
Option "Xinerama" "boolean"
enable or disable XINERAMA extension. Default is disabled.
Option "AllowDeactivateGrabs" "boolean"
This option enables the use of the Ctrl+Alt+Keypad-Divide key sequence to deactivate any active keyboard and mouse grabs. Default:
Option "AllowClosedownGrabs" "boolean"
This option enables the use of the Ctrl+Alt+Keypad-Multiply key sequence to kill clients with an active keyboard or mouse grab as
well as killing any application that may have locked the server, normally using the XGrabServer(3) Xlib function. Default: off.
Note that the options AllowDeactivateGrabs and AllowClosedownGrabs will allow users to remove the grab used by screen saver/locker
programs. An API was written to such cases. If you enable this option, make sure your screen saver/locker is updated.
Option "HandleSpecialKeys" "when"
This option controls when the server uses the builtin handler to process special key combinations (such as Ctrl+Alt+Backspace).
Normally the XKEYBOARD extension keymaps will provide mappings for each of the special key combinations, so the builtin handler is
not needed unless the XKEYBOARD extension is disabled. The value of when can be Always, Never, or WhenNeeded. Default: Use the
builtin handler only if needed. The server will scan the keymap for a mapping to the Terminate action and, if found, use XKEYBOARD
for processing actions, otherwise the builtin handler will be used.
The config file may have multiple Module section. They are used to specify additional XFree86 server modules to be loaded. This section
is ignored when the XFree86 server is built in static form. The types of modules normally loaded in this section are XFree86 server exten-
sion modules, and font rasteriser modules. Most other module types are loaded automatically when they are needed via other mechanisms.
The Module section is optional, as are all of the entries that may be specified in it.
specifies an optional identifying name for the Module section.
Option flags may be specified in Module sections.
Entries that identify which modules to pre-load may be in two forms. The first and most commonly used form is an entry that uses the Load
keyword, as described here:
This instructs the server to load the module called modulename. The module name given should be the module's standard name, not the
module file name. The standard name is case-sensitive, and does not include the "lib" prefix, or the ".a", ".o", or ".so" suffixes.
Example: the Type 1 font rasteriser can be loaded with the following entry:
The second form of entry is a SubSection, with the subsection name being the module name, and the contents of the SubSection being Options
that are passed to the module when it is loaded.
Example: the extmod module (which contains a miscellaneous group of server extensions) can be loaded, with the XFree86-DGA extension dis-
abled by using the following entry:
Option "omit XFree86-DGA"
Modules are searched for in each directory specified in the ModulePath search path, and in the drivers, input, extensions, fonts, and
internal subdirectories of each of those directories. In addition to this, operating system specific subdirectories of all the above are
searched first if they exist.
To see what font and extension modules are available, check the contents of the following directories:
The "bitmap" font modules is loaded automatically. It is recommended that at very least the "extmod" extension module be loaded. If it
isn't some commonly used server extensions (like the SHAPE extension) will not be available.
The config file may have multiple InputDevice sections. There will normally be at least two: one for the core (primary) keyboard, and one
of the core pointer. If either of these two is missing, a default configuration for the missing ones will be used. Currently the default
configuration may not work as expected on all platforms.
InputDevice sections have the following format:
The Identifier and Driver entries are required in all InputDevice sections. All other entries are optional.
The Identifier entry specifies the unique name for this input device. The Driver entry specifies the name of the driver to use for this
input device. When using the loadable server, the input driver module "inputdriver" will be loaded for each active InputDevice section.
An InputDevice section is considered active if it is referenced by an active ServerLayout section, if it is referenced by the -keyboard or
-pointer command line options, or if it is selected implicitly as the core pointer or keyboard device in the absence of such explicit ref-
erences. The most commonly used input drivers are "keyboard" and "mouse".
In the absence of an explicitly specified core input device, the first InputDevice marked as CorePointer (or CoreKeyboard) is used. If
there is no match there, the first InputDevice that uses the "mouse" (or "keyboard" or "kbd") driver is used. The final fallback is to use
built-in default configurations.
InputDevice sections recognise some driver-independent Options, which are described here. See the individual input driver manual pages for
a description of the device-specific options.
When this is set, the input device is installed as the core (primary) pointer device. There must be exactly one core pointer. If
this option is not set here, or in the ServerLayout section, or from the -pointer command line option, then the first input device
that is capable of being used as a core pointer will be selected as the core pointer. This option is implicitly set when the obso-
lete Pointer section is used.
When this is set, the input device is to be installed as the core (primary) keyboard device. There must be exactly one core key-
board. If this option is not set here, in the ServerLayout section, or from the -keyboard command line option, then the first input
device that is capable of being used as a core keyboard will be selected as the core keyboard. This option is implicitly set when
the obsolete Keyboard section is used.
Option "AlwaysCore" "boolean"
Option "SendCoreEvents" "boolean"
Both of these options are equivalent, and when enabled cause the input device to always report core events. This can be used, for
example, to allow an additional pointer device to generate core pointer events (like moving the cursor, etc).
Option "HistorySize" "number"
Sets the motion history size. Default: 0.
Option "SendDragEvents" "boolean"
The config file may have multiple Device sections. There must be at least one, for the video card being used.
Device sections have the following format:
The Identifier and Driver entries are required in all Device sections. All other entries are optional.
The Identifier entry specifies the unique name for this graphics device. The Driver entry specifies the name of the driver to use for this
graphics device. When using the loadable server, the driver module "driver" will be loaded for each active Device section. A Device sec-
tion is considered active if it is referenced by an active Screen section.
Device sections recognise some driver-independent entries and Options, which are described here. Not all drivers make use of these driver-
independent entries, and many of those that do don't require them to be specified because the information is auto-detected. See the indi-
vidual graphics driver manual pages for further information about this, and for a description of the device-specific options. Note that
most of the Options listed here (but not the other entries) may be specified in the Screen section instead of here in the Device section.
This specifies the bus location of the graphics card. For PCI/AGP cards, the bus-id string has the form PCI:bus:device:function
(e.g., "PCI:1:0:0" might be appropriate for an AGP card). This field is usually optional in single-head configurations when using
the primary graphics card. In multi-head configurations, or when using a secondary graphics card in a single-head configuration,
this entry is mandatory. Its main purpose is to make an unambiguous connection between the device section and the hardware it is
representing. This information can usually be found by running the XFree86 server with the -scanpci command line option.
This option is mandatory for cards where a single PCI entity can drive more than one display (i.e., multiple CRTCs sharing a single
graphics accelerator and video memory). One Device section is required for each head, and this parameter determines which head each
of the Device sections applies to. The legal values of number range from 0 to one less than the total number of heads per entity.
Most drivers require that the primary screen (0) be present.
This usually optional entry specifies the chipset used on the graphics board. In most cases this entry is not required because the
drivers will probe the hardware to determine the chipset type. Don't specify it unless the driver-specific documentation recommends
that you do.
This optional entry specifies the type of RAMDAC used on the graphics board. This is only used by a few of the drivers, and in most
cases it is not required because the drivers will probe the hardware to determine the RAMDAC type where possible. Don't specify it
unless the driver-specific documentation recommends that you do.
DacSpeed speed-8 speed-16 speed-24 speed-32
This optional entry specifies the RAMDAC speed rating (which is usually printed on the RAMDAC chip). The speed is in MHz. When one
value is given, it applies to all framebuffer pixel sizes. When multiple values are give, they apply to the framebuffer pixel sizes
8, 16, 24 and 32 respectively. This is not used by many drivers, and only needs to be specified when the speed rating of the RAMDAC
is different from the defaults built in to driver, or when the driver can't auto-detect the correct defaults. Don't specify it
unless the driver-specific documentation recommends that you do.
Clocks clock ...
specifies the pixel that are on your graphics board. The clocks are in MHz, and may be specified as a floating point number. The
value is stored internally to the nearest kHz. The ordering of the clocks is important. It must match the order in which they are
selected on the graphics board. Multiple Clocks lines may be specified, and each is concatenated to form the list. Most drivers do
not use this entry, and it is only required for some older boards with non-programmable clocks. Don't specify this entry unless the
driver-specific documentation explicitly recommends that you do.
This optional entry is used to specify the clock chip type on graphics boards which have a programmable clock generator. Only a few
XFree86 drivers support programmable clock chips. For details, see the appropriate driver manual page.
This optional entry specifies the amount of video ram that is installed on the graphics board. This is measured in kBytes. In most
cases this is not required because the XFree86 server probes the graphics board to determine this quantity. The driver-specific
documentation should indicate when it might be needed.
This optional entry specifies the base address of the video BIOS for the VGA board. This address is normally auto-detected, and
should only be specified if the driver-specific documentation recommends it.
This optional entry specifies the memory base address of a graphics board's linear frame buffer. This entry is not used by many
drivers, and it should only be specified if the driver-specific documentation recommends it.
This optional entry specifies the IO base address. This entry is not used by many drivers, and it should only be specified if the
driver-specific documentation recommends it.
This optional entry specifies a numerical ID representing the chip type. For PCI cards, it is usually the device ID. This can be
used to override the auto-detection, but that should only be done when the driver-specific documentation recommends it.
This optional entry specifies the chip revision number. This can be used to override the auto-detection, but that should only be
done when the driver-specific documentation recommends it.
This optional entry specifies the pixel clock frequency that is used for the regular text mode. The frequency is specified in MHz.
This is rarely used.
This optional entry allows an interrupt number to be specified.
Option flags may be specified in the Device sections. These include driver-specific options and driver-independent options. The
former are described in the driver-specific documentation. Some of the latter are described below in the section about the Screen
section, and they may also be included here.
The config file may have multiple VideoAdaptor sections, which may be referenced from Screen sections.
VideoAdaptor sections have the following format:
The only mandatory entry in a VideoAdaptor section is the Identifier. Other entries include:
This optional entry specifies the video adaptor's manufacturer.
This optional entry specifies the video adaptor's model name.
may be specified in the VideoAdaptor section.
The Port SubSections provide information about video adaptor ports. Each of these may contain an Identifier entry and Options.
The config file may have multiple Monitor sections. There should normally be at least one, for the monitor being used, but a default con-
figuration will be created when one isn't specified.
Monitor sections have the following format:
The only mandatory entry in a Monitor section is the Identifier entry.
The Identifier entry specifies the unique name for this monitor. The Monitor section provides information about the specifications of the
monitor, monitor-specific Options, and information about the video modes to use with the monitor. Specifying video modes is optional
because the server now has a built-in list of VESA standard modes. When modes are specified explicitly in the Monitor section (with the
Modes, ModeLine, or UseModes keywords), built-in modes with the same names are not included. Built-in modes with different names are, how-
ever, still implicitly included.
The entries that may be used in Monitor sections are described below.
This optional entry specifies the monitor's manufacturer.
This optional entry specifies the monitor's model.
gives the range(s) of horizontal sync frequencies supported by the monitor. horizsync-range may be a comma separated list of either
discrete values or ranges of values. A range of values is two values separated by a dash. By default the values are in units of
kHz. They may be specified in MHz or Hz if MHz or Hz is added to the end of the line. The data given here is used by the XFree86
server to determine if video modes are within the specifications of the monitor. This information should be available in the moni-
tor's handbook. If this entry is omitted, a default range of 28-33kHz is used.
gives the range(s) of vertical refresh frequencies supported by the monitor. vertrefresh-range may be a comma separated list of
either discrete values or ranges of values. A range of values is two values separated by a dash. By default the values are in
units of Hz. They may be specified in MHz or kHz if MHz or kHz is added to the end of the line. The data given here is used by the
XFree86 server to determine if video modes are within the specifications of the monitor. This information should be available in
the monitor's handbook. If this entry is omitted, a default range of 43-72Hz is used.
DisplaySize width height
This optional entry gives the width and height, in millimetres, of the picture area of the monitor. If given this is used to calcu-
late the horizontal and vertical pitch (DPI) of the screen.
Gamma red-gamma green-gamma blue-gamma
This is an optional entry that can be used to specify the gamma correction for the monitor. It may be specified as either a single
value or as three separate RGB values. The values should be in the range 0.1 to 10.0, and the default is 1.0. Not all drivers are
capable of using this information.
Include the set of modes listed in the Modes section called modesection-id. This make all of the modes defined in that section
available for use by this monitor.
This is an optional multi-line entry that can be used to provide definitions for video modes for the monitor. In most cases this
isn't necessary because the built-in set of VESA standard modes will be sufficient. The Mode keyword indicates the start of a
multi-line video mode description. The mode description is terminated with the EndMode keyword. The mode description consists of
the following entries:
is the dot (pixel) clock rate to be used for the mode.
HTimings hdisp hsyncstart hsyncend htotal
specifies the horizontal timings for the mode.
VTimings vdisp vsyncstart vsyncend vtotal
specifies the vertical timings for the mode.
Flags "flag" ...
specifies an optional set of mode flags, each of which is a separate string in double quotes. "Interlace" indicates that the
mode is interlaced. "DoubleScan" indicates a mode where each scanline is doubled. "+HSync" and "-HSync" can be used to select
the polarity of the HSync signal. "+VSync" and "-VSync" can be used to select the polarity of the VSync signal. "Composite"
can be used to specify composite sync on hardware where this is supported. Additionally, on some hardware, "+CSync" and
"-CSync" may be used to select the composite sync polarity.
specifies the number of pixels (towards the right edge of the screen) by which the display enable signal is to be skewed. Not
all drivers use this information. This option might become necessary to override the default value supplied by the server (if
any). "Roving" horizontal lines indicate this value needs to be increased. If the last few pixels on a scan line appear on the
left of the screen, this value should be decreased.
specifies the number of times each scanline is painted on the screen. Not all drivers use this information. Values less than 1
are treated as 1, which is the default. Generally, the "DoubleScan" Flag mentioned above doubles this value.
ModeLine "name" mode-description
This entry is a more compact version of the Mode entry, and it also can be used to specify video modes for the monitor. is a single
line format for specifying video modes. In most cases this isn't necessary because the built-in set of VESA standard modes will be
The mode-description is in four sections, the first three of which are mandatory. The first is the dot (pixel) clock. This is a
single number specifying the pixel clock rate for the mode in MHz. The second section is a list of four numbers specifying the hor-
izontal timings. These numbers are the hdisp, hsyncstart, hsyncend, and htotal values. The third section is a list of four numbers
specifying the vertical timings. These numbers are the vdisp, vsyncstart, vsyncend, and vtotal values. The final section is a list
of flags specifying other characteristics of the mode. Interlace indicates that the mode is interlaced. DoubleScan indicates a
mode where each scanline is doubled. +HSync and -HSync can be used to select the polarity of the HSync signal. +VSync and -VSync
can be used to select the polarity of the VSync signal. Composite can be used to specify composite sync on hardware where this is
supported. Additionally, on some hardware, +CSync and -CSync may be used to select the composite sync polarity. The HSkew and
VScan options mentioned above in the Modes entry description can also be used here.
Option "DPMS" "boolean"
Set whether DPMS is enabled for the monitor. The default is taken from the monitor's DDC/EDID information if available, or false if
Option "TargetRefresh" "refresh"
Sets a target refresh rate to use for the monitor. If the monitor has valid modes with a refresh rate greater or equal to this
value, those with a lower refresh rate will not be considered when determining the default resolution to use. This is improves the
default resolution selection when none is specified explicitly. Default: TargetRefresh not used.
Option "SyncOnGreen" "boolean"
Set whether sync-on-green should be enabled. The availability of this option is driver-specific. Default: false.
Option "PreferredMode" "XresxYres"
Sets a preferred resolution to use for the default mode. By default the preferred mode resolution is taken from the DDC/EDID data
if it is available and if it is provides a default mode preference. This is typically true for flat panel displays, which have a
native/preferred resolution. This option is not used if the UsePreferredMode option is false.
Option "UsePreferredMode" "boolean"
Controls whether or not a preferred mode, either detected from the monitor's DDC/EDID data or provided explicitly with the Pre-
ferredMode option, is used. Default: true.
Additional Option flags, including driver-specific options, may be included in Monitor sections.
The config file may have multiple Modes sections, or none. These sections provide a way of defining sets of video modes independently of
the Monitor sections. Monitor sections may include the definitions provided in these sections by using the UseModes keyword. In most
cases the Modes sections are not necessary because the built-in set of VESA standard modes will be sufficient.
Modes sections have the following format:
The Identifier entry specifies the unique name for this set of mode descriptions. The other entries permitted in Modes sections are the
Mode and ModeLine entries that are described above in the Monitor section, as well as Options.
The config file may have multiple Screen sections. There must be at least one, for the "screen" being used. A "screen" represents the
binding of a graphics device (Device section) and one or more monitors (Monitor sections). A Screen section is considered "active" if it
is referenced by an active ServerLayout section or by the -screen command line option. If neither of those is present, the first Screen
section found in the config file is considered the active one.
Screen sections have the following format:
The Identifier and Device entries are mandatory. All others are optional.
The Identifier entry specifies the unique name for this screen. The Screen section provides information specific to the whole screen,
including screen-specific Options. In multi-head configurations, there will be multiple active Screen sections, one for each head. The
entries available for this section are:
This mandatory entry specifies the Device section to be used for this screen. This is what ties a specific graphics card to a
screen. The device-id must match the Identifier of a Device section in the config file.
Monitor monitor-num "monitor-id"
One of these entries may be given for each monitor associated with this screen. In the absence of these entries, at least one
default monitor will be created for the screen. The monitor-id field is mandatory, and specifies the Monitor section being refer-
enced. The monitor-num field is required when more than one monitor is being associated with the screen. Each referenced monitor
should be given a unique monitor number. This monitor number may be given special significance by the driver, and it is also used
to identify which Display subsection(s) are associated with the screen/monitor. If this field is omitted in a multiple-monitor con-
figuration, default values will be assigned. This is not recommended, and this behaviour may change in future revisions.
If a Monitor name is not specified, a default configuration is used. Currently the default configuration may not function as
expected on all platforms.
specifies an optional Xv video adaptor description to be used with this screen.
specifies which color depth the server should use by default. The -depth command line option can be used to override this. If nei-
ther is specified, the default depth is driver-specific, but in most cases is 8.
specifies which framebuffer layout to use by default. The -fbbpp command line option can be used to override this. In most cases
the driver will chose the best default value for this. The only case where there is even a choice in this value is for depth 24,
where some hardware supports both a packed 24 bit framebuffer layout and a sparse 32 bit framebuffer layout.
Various Option flags may be specified in the Screen section. Some are driver-specific and are described in the driver documenta-
tion. Others are driver-independent, and will eventually be described here.
Enables XAA (X Acceleration Architecture), a mechanism that makes video cards' 2D hardware acceleration available to the XFree86
server. This option is on by default, but it may be necessary to turn it off if there are bugs in the driver. There are many
options to disable specific accelerated operations, listed below. Note that disabling an operation will have no effect if the oper-
ation is not accelerated (whether due to lack of support in the hardware or in the driver).
Option "BiosLocation" "address"
Set the location of the BIOS for the Int10 module. One may select a BIOS of another card for posting or the legacy V_BIOS range
located at 0xc0000 or an alternative address (BUS_ISA). This is only useful under very special circumstances and should be used
with extreme care.
Option "InitPrimary" "boolean"
Use the Int10 module to initialize the primary graphics card. Normally, only secondary cards are soft-booted using the Int10 module,
as the primary card has already been initialized by the BIOS at boot time. Default: false.
Option "NoInt10" "boolean"
Disables the Int10 module, a module that uses the int10 call to the BIOS of the graphics card to initialize it. Default: false.
Disables MTRR (Memory Type Range Register) support, a feature of modern processors which can improve video performance by a factor
of up to 2.5. Some hardware has buggy MTRR support, and some video drivers have been known to exhibit problems when MTRR's are
Disables accelerated rectangular expansion blits from source patterns stored in system memory (using a memory-mapped aperture).
Disables accelerated fills of a rectangular region with a full-color pattern.
Disables accelerated fills of a trapezoidal region with a full-color pattern.
Disables accelerated dashed Bresenham line draws.
Disables accelerated dashed line draws between two arbitrary points.
Disables accelerated transfers of full-color rectangular patterns from system memory to video memory (using a memory-mapped aper-
Disables accelerated fills of a rectangular region with a monochrome pattern.
Disables accelerated fills of a trapezoidal region with a monochrome pattern.
Disables accelerated draws into pixmaps stored in offscreen video memory.
Disables caching of patterns in offscreen video memory.
Disables accelerated rectangular expansion blits from source patterns stored in system memory (one scan line at a time).
Disables accelerated transfers of full-color rectangular patterns from system memory to video memory (one scan line at a time).
Disables accelerated rectangular expansion blits from source patterns stored in offscreen video memory.
Disables accelerated copies of rectangular regions from one part of video memory to another part of video memory.
Disables accelerated solid Bresenham line draws.
Disables accelerated solid-color fills of rectangles.
Disables accelerated solid-color fills of Bresenham trapezoids.
Disables accelerated solid horizontal and vertical line draws.
Disables accelerated solid line draws between two arbitrary points.
Each Screen section may optionally contain one or more Display subsections. Those subsections provide depth, fbbpp and monitor specific
configuration information, and the ones chosen depend on the depth and/or fbbpp that is being used for the screen, as well as the monitor
number(s) in multi-monitor configurations. The Display subsection format is described in the section below.
Each Screen section may have multiple Display subsections. The "active" Display subsections are the first for each monitor number that
match the depth and/or fbbpp values being used, or failing that, the first for each monitor number that has neither a depth or fbbpp value
specified. Display subsections with no monitor number specified are used for single monitor per screen configurations. The Display sub-
sections are optional. When there isn't one that matches the monitor number and/or depth and/or fbbpp values being used, all the parame-
ters that can be specified here fall back to their defaults.
Display subsections have the following format:
None of the entries in a Display subsection are mandatory.
This entry specifies which Monitor entry of the Screen section that this Display subsection applies to. This number should match
the monitor number of one of the Monitor references in the Screen screen. If it doesn't match, then this Display subsection will be
ignored. If this entry is omitted, it is applied to single-monitor configurations. For multi-monitor configurations, the driver
may also use information in this subsection for screen-wide parameters. Not all of the parameters in this subsection make sense on
a per-monitor basis. Which get used and how they get used is currently up to the driver. Entries that are relevant to multi-moni-
tor configurations include Modes, Virtual, ViewPort, and Options.
This entry specifies what colour depth the Display subsection is to be used for. This entry is usually specified, but it may be
omitted to create a match-all Display subsection or when wishing to match only against the FbBpp parameter. The range of depth val-
ues that are allowed depends on the driver. Most driver support 8, 15, 16 and 24. Some also support 1 and/or 4, and some may sup-
port other values (like 30). Note: depth means the number of bits in a pixel that are actually used to determine the pixel colour.
32 is not a valid depth value. Most hardware that uses 32 bits per pixel only uses 24 of them to hold the colour information, which
means that the colour depth is 24, not 32.
This entry specifies the framebuffer format this Display subsection is to be used for. This entry is only needed when providing
depth 24 configurations that allow a choice between a 24 bpp packed framebuffer format and a 32bpp sparse framebuffer format. In
most cases this entry should not be used.
Weight red-weight green-weight blue-weight
This optional entry specifies the relative RGB weighting to be used for a screen is being used at depth 16 for drivers that allow
multiple formats. This may also be specified from the command line with the -weight option (see XFree86(1)).
Virtual xdim ydim
This optional entry specifies the virtual screen resolution to be used. xdim must be a multiple of either 8 or 16 for most drivers,
and a multiple of 32 when running in monochrome mode. The given value will be rounded down if this is not the case. Video modes
which are too large for the specified virtual size will be rejected. If this entry is not present, the virtual screen resolution
will be set to accommodate all the valid video modes given in the Modes entry. Some drivers/hardware combinations do not support
virtual screens. Refer to the appropriate driver-specific documentation for details.
ViewPort x0 y0
This optional entry sets the upper left corner of the initial display. This is only relevant when the virtual screen resolution is
different from the resolution of the initial video mode. If this entry is not given, then the initial display will be centered in
the virtual display area.
Modes "mode-name" ...
This optional entry specifies the list of video modes to use. Each mode-name specified must be in double quotes. They must corre-
spond to those specified or referenced in the appropriate Monitor section (including implicitly referenced built-in VESA standard
modes). The server will delete modes from this list which don't satisfy various requirements. The first valid mode in this list
will be the default display mode for startup. The list of valid modes is converted internally into a circular list. It is possible
to switch to the next mode with Ctrl+Alt+Keypad-Plus and to the previous mode with Ctrl+Alt+Keypad-Minus. When this entry is omit-
ted, the valid modes referenced by the appropriate Monitor section will be used. If the Monitor section contains no modes, then the
selection will be taken from the built-in VESA standard modes.
This optional entry sets the default root visual type. This may also be specified from the command line (see the Xserver(1) man
page). The visual types available for depth 8 are (default is PseudoColor):
The visual type available for the depths 15, 16 and 24 are (default is TrueColor):
Not all drivers support DirectColor at these depths.
The visual types available for the depth 4 are (default is StaticColor):
The visual type available for the depth 1 (monochrome) is StaticGray.
Black red green blue
This optional entry allows the "black" colour to be specified. This is only supported at depth 1. The default is black.
White red green blue
This optional entry allows the "white" colour to be specified. This is only supported at depth 1. The default is white.
Option flags may be specified in the Display subsections. These may include driver-specific options and driver-independent options.
The former are described in the driver-specific documentation. Some of the latter are described above in the section about the
Screen section, and they may also be included here.
The config file may have multiple ServerLayout sections. A "server layout" represents the binding of one or more screens (Screen sections)
and one or more input devices (InputDevice sections) to form a complete configuration. In multi-head configurations, it also specifies the
relative layout of the heads. A ServerLayout section is considered "active" if it is referenced by the -layout command line option or by
an Option "DefaultServerLayout" entry in the ServerFlags section (the former takes precedence over the latter). If those options are not
used, the first ServerLayout section found in the config file is considered the active one. If no ServerLayout sections are present, the
single active screen and two active (core) input devices are selected as described in the relevant sections above.
ServerLayout sections have the following format:
Each ServerLayout section must have an Identifier entry and at least one Screen entry.
The Identifier entry specifies the unique name for this server layout. The ServerLayout section provides information specific to the whole
session, including session-specific Options. The ServerFlags options (described above) may be specified here, and ones given here override
those given in the ServerFlags section.
The entries that may be used in this section are described here.
Screen screen-num "screen-id" position-information
One of these entries must be given for each screen being used in a session. The screen-id field is mandatory, and specifies the
Screen section being referenced. The screen-num field is optional, and may be used to specify the screen number in multi-head con-
figurations. When this field is omitted, the screens will be numbered in the order that they are listed in. The numbering starts
from 0, and must be consecutive. The optional position-information field describes the way multiple screens are positioned. When
this information is not provided, the positioning of the screen defaults to Absolute 0 0. There are a number of different ways that
this information can be provided:
Absolute x y
These both specify that the upper left corner's coordinates are (x,y). The Absolute keyword is optional. Some older versions
of XFree86 (4.2 and earlier) don't recognise the Absolute keyword, so it's safest to just specify the coordinates without it.
Relative "screen-id" x y
These give the screen's location relative to another screen. The first four position the screen immediately to the right, left,
above or below the other screen. When positioning to the right or left, the top edges are aligned. When positioning above or
below, the left edges are aligned. The Relative form specifies the offset of the screen's origin (upper left corner) relative
to the origin of another screen.
InputDevice "idev-id" "option" ...
One of these entries should be given for each input device being used in a session. Normally at least two are required, one each
for the core pointer and keyboard devices. If either of those is missing, suitable InputDevice entries are searched for using the
method described above in the INPUTDEVICE section. The idev-id field is mandatory, and specifies the name of the InputDevice sec-
tion being referenced. Multiple option fields may be specified, each in double quotes. The options permitted here are any that may
also be given in the InputDevice sections. Normally only session-specific input device options would be used here. The most com-
monly used options are:
and the first two should normally be used to indicate the core pointer and core keyboard devices respectively.
Any option permitted in the ServerFlags section may also be specified here. When the same option appears in both places, the value
given here overrides the one given in the ServerFlags section.
Here is an example of a ServerLayout section for a dual headed configuration with two mice:
Identifier "Layout 1"
Screen "MGA 1"
Screen "MGA 2" RightOf "MGA 1"
InputDevice "Keyboard 1" "CoreKeyboard"
InputDevice "Mouse 1" "CorePointer"
InputDevice "Mouse 2" "SendCoreEvents"
Option "BlankTime" "5"
This optional section is used to provide some information for the Direct Rendering Infrastructure.
specifies an optional identifying name for the DRI section.
specifies the group ownership for the DRI device nodes. It may be specified as a group name or as a numerical group ID.
specifies the numerical permissions for the DRI device nodes.
Buffers count size
Option flags may be specified in DRI sections.
The optional Vendor section may be used to provide vendor-specific configuration information. Multiple Vendor sections may be present, and
they may contain the following entries:
specifies an identifying name for the Vendor section.
specifies the vendor name.
may be specified in the Vendor sections.
In addition to these entries, there may be named SubSections, each of which may contain an Identifier entry and Option entries.
For an example of an XF86Config file, see the file installed as /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/XF86Config.eg.
X(7), Xserver(1), XFree86(1), apm(4), chips(4), cirrus(4), cyrix(4), fbdev(4), glide(4), glint(4), i128(4), i740(4), i810(4), imstt(4),
mga(4), neomagic(4), nv(4), r128(4), rendition(4), savage(4), s3virge(4), siliconmotion(4), sis(4), sunbw2(4), suncg14(4), suncg3(4),
suncg6(4), sunffb(4), sunleo(4), suntcx(4), tdfx(4), tga(4), trident(4), tseng(4), v4l(4), vesa(4), vga(4), vmware(4),
This manual page was largely rewritten for XFree86 4.0 by David Dawes <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
XFree86 Version 4.7.0 XF86Config(5)