XPS13 with extra monitor

Hi all,

I have a problem with my XPS13 laptop. I'm not sure if it's a hardware problem, a problem with the Mate desktop, or with the underlying Ubuntu software.
I run Ubuntu 20.4 with the Mate desktop on it. Because of the small size and high resolution of it's screen - and my bad eyes! - I use a big monitor with it. If I keep the monitor connected during the startup, I only see the desktop background and the mouse cursor on both screens; no panels. Only if I start the laptop with the second monitor disconnected, and connect it after the login, I can work on the second monitor.

Hi :slight_smile: Welcome to our community ! :ubuntu_mate:
I guess, once you booted, doesn't matter with or withut screen, you can search for "Displays" in the menu, and a window to configure your Displays will start.
If you want, you can configure mirror screen configuration, double screen or only external display active and not the internal one.
Good luck :slight_smile:

Hi Olek,
Thanks for your reply. Problem is, I can't open the menu, nor anything else, because I only see the background and there's nothing I can click on.

arrhh xD
And if you strike Alt+F2 ? Is a small window starting asking for "Run Application" ?

No, the only thing i can do on the keyboard is Ctrl-Alt-Del, and reboot.

If I understand good, you have this behavior on both of your screens at the same time ?
Both screens, no panels with menu and Alt+F2 does nothing doesn't matter on each screen is the mouse ?

That's correct. I've set the display settings to "same image on all monitors".

I think I understand your situation.
Is it possible for you to boot the machine without the second screen and once booted, plug it, in order to be in the case you can work with second screen, next go to this Displays menu, configure both screens as you want (mirror, one disabled, or extended desktop) and click to apply system wide ?

Yes, that's the way I work now. If I plug in the second monitor after booting, it works as expected. But I have to disconnect and reconnect the second monitor every time I start up. I wonder if there is a solution to avoid this, because I fear it will wear out the connector in the long run.

Did "apply system wide" helped ?
Or, maybe try to strike the key combination on your keyboard for switching screen.
Google says it will be F8 / Fn+F8. Let's try :slight_smile:

O.k I'll be back soon....

Take all the time you need :slight_smile:

Hi Olek,
Here I am again. I tried a lot of keys and key-combinations, both on the laptop and on an external keyboard. F8, Fn-F8, Alt-F2... Only Ctrl-Alt-F2 ( or ..F3, ...F4 etc.) works: it does give me a terminal window. Which may be useful to dig into the system...

I think you went to text mode tty, not sure it's gonna help us.
Are you able to attach a pic of how your screens looks like after a fresh boot ?
Also, do you have this small icon on this key ?

Yes, I do have this icon on the F8 key of my laptop. I tried it, but it didn't do anything.
I took a picture of the screen with my phone; I'll try to post it here..
Picture is too large. Anyway, there's nothing special on it, just the desktop background.

Sorry, but I'll have to do other things now. I appreciated the help, it was nice chatting with you!
Maybe see you later?


Hi Ko,
I have had a similar issue with my XPS-13. To help resolve this issue and because I move my laptop between two locations, with different external monitors, I wrote this script and assigned it to the F8 key so that I can easily toggle between the two locations without having to rely on the UI. Maybe you can use it, maybe in an edited form, to help you resolve your issue, too.


# toggle-1080p.sh script
# Toggles between 1080P and 4K

# This is the version for Ubuntu MATE on the Dell XPS13 9360
# eDP-1 = laptop | DP-1 = Hisense | TV DP-1-1 = Samsung
# ##########################################################
# Larry Bushey

mode="$(xrandr -q|grep -A1 "DP-1-1 connected"| tail -1 |awk '{ print $1 }')"
if [ -n "$mode" ]; then

#     hidpi="$(xrandr|grep "eDP-1 connected primary 3200x1800")"
    hidpi="$(xrandr|grep "DP-1-1 connected primary 3840x2160")"
    if [ -n "$hidpi" ]; then
#      xrandr --output eDP-1 --left-of DP-1-1 --mode 1920x1080
      xrandr --output eDP-1 --off  
      xrandr --output DP-1-1 --mode 1920x1080
      gsettings set org.mate.interface window-scaling-factor 1
      notify-send --icon=/home/lebushey/bin/icons/gnome-display-properties.svg "1080p" "Your display is now set to 1920x1080 resolution."
#      xrandr --output eDP-1 --left-of DP-1-1 --mode 3200x1800  
      xrandr --output eDP-1 --off  
      xrandr --output DP-1-1 --mode 3840x2160
      gsettings set org.mate.interface window-scaling-factor 2
      notify-send --icon=/home/lebushey/bin/icons/gnome-display-properties.svg "HiDPI" "Your display his now set to 3200x1800 resolution."


    hidpi="$(xrandr|grep "eDP-1 connected primary 3200x1800")"
    if [ -n "$hidpi" ]; then
      xrandr --output eDP-1 --left-of DP-1 --mode 1920x1080 
      xrandr --output eDP-1 --mode 1920x1080
      gsettings set org.mate.interface window-scaling-factor 1
      notify-send --icon=/home/lebushey/bin/icons/gnome-display-properties.svg "1080p" "Your display is now set to 1920x1080 resolution."
      xrandr --output eDP-1 --left-of DP-1 --mode 1920x1080 
      xrandr --output eDP-1 --mode 3200x1800  
      gsettings set org.mate.interface window-scaling-factor 2
      notify-send --icon=/home/lebushey/bin/icons/gnome-display-properties.svg "HiDPI" "Your XPS-13 display his now set to 3200x1800 resolution."


Hi Larry,

Thanks for this script. I think there' s a lot of useful information in it for my situation. I'll have a closer look at it tomorrow.

Hi Larry,

It was very interesting to know more about the 'xrandr' command that is in your script. But I don't think it is what I need in my situation: both my screens, the laptop's and the extra monitor are recognized by the system, but both only show the desktop-background and not the panels. What I need is a tool (key, script,..) to put the top panel on one of the screens.
Maybe I can make use of this:

gsettings set org.mate.interface


Hi all,

I think I've found a work-around to - more or less - solve my problem. I took the following steps:

  1. in 'MATE Tweak': check the box 'Show Desktop Icons' (which was unchecked)
  2. in the 'Menu': go to 'System Tools => MATE Terminal, right-click and select 'pin to desktop'
  3. after reboot: start the MATE Terminal, type 'mate-panel &'
  4. fixed...

I'll mark my post as 'SOLVED'
Thanks for setting me on the right track!