Screen resolution fix for Ubuntu 10.10 running in Parallels Desktop 6.0

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If you try to install Ubuntu 10.10 under parallels desktop 6.0 on OSX — atleast as of the writing of this article — you’ll soon discover that although your entire installation is done in a high (eg: 1920×1080) resolution, as soon as the install is done and you reboot, your VM is stuck at 1024×768. You can install the parallel tools using the menu option and it still won’t help — although it helps with 3D (ie: compiz). Under Gnomes System/Preferences/Monitors the highest resolution available is 1024×768 :-(. After searching around the net for the past week or so and trying just about every remedy — which did not work — I was about to give up, then I found the magic command that “makes it go” :-).

I’ve now got Ubuntu 10.10 running with PT/compiz under parallels 6.0 @ 1920×1080. No problem. Normally if you go inside ~/.config/ directory (.config folder under your home directory) you’ll notice that there is no “monitors.xml” file in there. That’s the per user X config file that gets the ball rolling. Generating the file is really easy. Open a teminal and issue the following command:


This will generate (hopefully) the following output:

Note that 1024×768 is the default. Now if you go inside ~/.config/ directory you’ll find a “monitors.xml” file (below). Once you’ve got this file you can go to System/Preferences/Monitors and choose the higher resolution options (eg:1920×1080). The xrandr command should generate the file for you. If it doesn’t (not sure why), here is my version for parallel 6.0. I think it’s pretty generic so you should be able to cut and paste the content:

<monitors version="1">
      <output name="default">


  • Kirk

    what i would like to do is use my 15″ mac, which has a smaller screen resolution than what you specify. after hitting the “max” button, the screen size is 1436×827 .

    and, following the steps you specified, it indeed creates the ~/.config/monitors.xml, and following the steps to set the default monitor, it tells me the next time someone logs in, these settings will be used.

    unfortunately, it sort of lies.

    after reboot, i get a dialog that says it has trouble applying certain settings, and simply reverts to 1280×800, which i guess it figures is the next smallest size that still fits within my monitor.

    so there must be something else that it is consulting first.

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