Last updated: September 18, 2003
TV-out on the Matrox G450 (should work for the G550)

This page intends to help people get TV-out working on their Matrox G450/G550 video cards
The TV-out patch was written by Petr Vandrovec ( and released around Jun 8, 2002.
Petr Vandrovec is the matroxfb kernel driver maintainer.

People are encouraged to point out errors or discrepancies and feedback is welcome (
The newest version of this document can be found at

I would also like to say that I am in no way affiliated with Matrox, except that I own a G450 and have done my best to complain about a lack of TV-out as witnessed in the forums ;)
Please note that the best way for Matrox to know about a demand for TV-out under Linux is for you to email it's sales department. They appear to be the only ones who can answer any questions regarding this issue (although they have a tendency to not answer).

Thanks to the following people who have sent info/corrections/tips (in order of date):
Hans Tool - Suggested a few things that should make things more understandable
Maarten ter Huurne - Lots of PAL info. Some corrections and feedback on some of my advice.
Pontus Edvardsson - Pointed out that the previous layout suggested that v4lctl was only for adjusting the console settings, which isn't true.
Per Mattsson - Kernel build pointer.
Tim van Erven - Had lots of success with his G550. Pointed out many things that I am looking into (ie: did not have the BusID problem).
Balázs Bárány - Pointed out the lack of directions in regards to primary and secondary connectors.
Gemes Tibor - explained a better way to play videos with MPlayer (use expand and scale together to preserve aspect ratio)
Frederic Lespez - reported success with 2.4.20 kernel.
Dave Smith - note on v4lctl
Pekka Tiittanen - a couple of notes on DirectFB
Balázs Bárány and Petri Koistinen - pointing out just how outdated this doc was getting in regards to kernel versions, sorry.

1) Warning and limitations
    I will warn you first that getting this to work may require you (at this moment in time) to be proficient with linux and compiling kernels.

This patch enables TV-out in PAL or NTSC. The resolution is currently limited to no more then 640x480. The second head will only work in 16bit or 32bit colour.
The first head (/dev/fb0) cannot be displayed using TVOut currently.
Petr Vandrovec has said this though
    Maybe in future I'll add code to display 16/32bpp
    resolutions up to 1023x625 from primary head on TVOut too if you are
    not using /dev/fb1 (by displaying same memory by both CRTC engines),
    but not now.

For those wanting to play movies on your TV- there is no acceleration of any kind available. If you've watched movies in XFree86 using XV, you will notice that you can watch your movie at it's original size or in fullscreen and it doesn't seem to slow down. This is done using the BES (back-end-scaler) on the card. The BES resizes the video in hardware. This unfortunately is not available on the second CRTC (only the primary CRTC). TV-out only works on the second CRTC, so no hardware resizing :(
XV also makes use of the colour-space conversion routines that again, are not available on the second head.
Any movies you watch will have to be resized in software. Both mplayer and xine are able to do this.

Also note that if you use a DVI flat panel, TV-out will not work (unless you don't mind unplugging your DVI flat panel during POST, then plugging it back in every boot).
This was posted by Petr Vandrovec <>
When G450/G550 BIOS finds that DVI monitor is attached, it somehow programs something somewhere so that pixel PLL and video PLL values do not work "as usual", but their behavior is somehow modified by setting of DVI port.

It is not problem for normal monitor output on first head - when you program pixelPLL and DVI output for same frequency, it behaves as it should.

But if you want to use different pixel clock speed on secondary output, there is a problem: you cannot. Your pixelclock must be in same DVI frequency range, that is they can differ by aprox. +- 30%. If they differ more, picture looses stability, and eventually disappears (although video PLL still reports that it is locked and happilly oscilating at frequency you requested...).

But with current multisync monitors this frequency limitation is usually no problem, besides that you will usually use same picture size on both heads, and so you also have same pixelclocks.

But when comes to TV out, you are lost: you must get exactly 50Hz (or 59.94) vertically and exactly 64us (63.975) line length. Even error by 1% is too big... This gives you 27MHz pixelclock, and this in turn limits your primary head to <= 45MHz dotclock... So 800x600/60Hz is your friend even on primary head :-( Problem, I think...

And worst is that if you'll boot without digital flat panel connected, you can connect it later, and now you can have happily three independent outputs: analog 1, analog 2 (TV) and DVI which are driven by two independent picture sources.

So if you do not want TVOut, or if you do not have DFP, there is no problem. If you want DFP with TVOut, I'm sorry. You have to play with cables during reboot.


    Some information about DirectFB. - The latest version (0.9.16) includes TV-out support for the G400/G450/G550 included. DirectFB works in replace of the method I describe below. The latest version of MPlayer includes a driver (dfbmga) that uses this support to play wonderful looking video on the TV. It uses some of the first heads features to improve the second heads quality. The downside is that the first head is unusable while playing videos.
    Unless you specifically need XFree86 support (whether on the TV-out, or to be able to use X at the same time as TV-out) then you should try the DirectFB method. Read Pekka Tiittanen's HOWTO for instructions on how to use the DirectFB method.

The most recent official document can be obtained from here:

gzipped, plain text:

2) Needed Files
    The original patch was made for the 2.5.20 version of the kernel, but was back-ported to 2.4.19rc1. The patch is now included in >=2.4.21 kernels so you are best to use one of these kernels.
    - 2.4.19 is known to work with both the 2.4.19rc1 and 2.4.19rc5 versions of the mga-tvout patch
    - 2.4.20 is known to work with the 2.4.19rc5 version of the mga-tvout patch
    - 2.4.21 and greater has support included
    - mga-tvout patch is available here if you wish to use <2.4.21 kernel
    - fbset-through-vt is available here if you wish to use <2.4.21 kernel
    - matroxset (0.3 is the latest at time of writing)
    - con2fb.c.gz (if you want to have a console on your TV)

Not essential, but the fbset program might be useful for changing your fb settings (although fbset might be included in your distribution).
    - fbset

Some may want to adjust contrast and brightness settings. For this you will need v4lctl (part of Xawtv, but compilable seperately).
Note that under debian, v4lctl is included with the xawtv package (which requires XFree86 unfortunately).

3) Patching the kernel
    First you need to get a copy of the kernel source (or grab a patch to apply to an existing source tree)
So visit your local mirror, download and untar into /usr/src (first removing the /usr/src/linux symlink, if present).

        # tar -xzvf linux-2.4.19.tar.gz

Apply the patches. Skip the next five steps if using a kernel greater then 2.4.20.

        # gunzip mga-2.4.19-rc5-tvout.gz
        # gunzip fbset-through-vt-2.4.19-rc5.gz
        # cd /usr/src/linux-2.4.19
        # patch -p1 -i mga-2.4.19-rc5-tvout
        # patch -p1 -i fbset-through-tv-2.4.19-rc5

4) Compile your kernel
    The 2.4.19-rc1 version requires you to enable Multihead Support. This has been fixed in the 2.4.19-rc5 version. You must compile it into the kernel as it will not currently work as a module.
Matroxfb is a replacement for the VESA framebuffer. Your Matrox card can use the VESA framebuffer, but when VESA fb initializes first, it is no longer available to Matroxfb. Do not enable VESA fb support.
Here is what I have enabled on my system. If an option isn't listed, it is disabled. Do not build any of the matrox stuff as modules with this version of TV-out (if you're playing around with a newer version though, you can try it).
Not all these options are critical, but if you do not know what they do, just select these.

These options are located in the "Console Drivers" section under "Frame-buffer Support". If this submenu is not present, check that you have enabled "Prompt for development and/or incomplete code/drivers" (located under "Code maturity level options").

    [*] Support for frame buffer devices (EXPERIMENTAL)
    <*>   Matrox acceleration (EXPERIMENTAL)
    [*]     G100/G200/G400/G450/G550 support
    [*]     Multihead support      <-- only needed with the 2.4.19rc1 version of the tv-out patch
    [*]   Advanced low level driver options
    <*>     8 bpp packed pixels support
    <*>     16 bpp packed pixels support
    <*>     24 bpp packed pixels support
    <*>     32 bpp packed pixels support

Compile your kernel...

        # make dep && make bzImage && make modules
        # make install && make modules_install

I won't go into how to get the new kernel set up with lilo. After the kernel is in place, you must set a FB video mode. You can catch LILO and add "video=matrox:vesa:0x111" to the boot prompt. Mode 0x111 is for 640x480 at 16bit colour and mode 0x112 is 640x480 at 32bit colour. I believe that 640x480 is the largest resolution that is supported. Once you get things working, you can make lilo append this for you. Here is a sample entry from my /etc/lilo.conf file.

image = /boot/vmlinuz-2.4.19
  label = linux-tvout
  append = " ide1=autotune ide0=autotune video=matrox:vesa:0x111"
  root = /dev/hda2
  read-only   # use read-write if you use reiserfs, don't know about other filesystems

Just be sure to run lilo after making the change.

5) Activate TV-out

    Before we proceed, it is important to make sure that the TV-out cable is hooked-up correctly. The TV-out adaptor must be connected to the secondary output.
There are two kinds of outputs, HD-15 (which is an ordinary analog monitor output) and DVI.

If your card has two HD-15 connectors, then you will need to look closely for a "1" ( or "1/3" ) and "2"( or "2/4" ) stenciled beside each connector. Plug the TV-out adaptor to the second one ("2" or "2/4").

If you have a HD-15 and a DVI connector, then you will need to plug the TV-out adaptor to the HD-15 connector (regular video port). In this case, your DVI output is your primary output.

    Now to actually activate it.
Your video card is capable of a few different configurations, so the command line tool "matroxset" was created to be able to change those settings.
Building matroxset is fairly simple.

            # tar -xzvf matroxset-0.3.tar.gz
            # cd matroxset
            # make
  [root]# cp matroxset /usr/sbin

The matroxset tool doesn't have to be run as root, as long as the current user has read/write access to the framebuffer devices.
Once you have found what settings you use, you may also want to add them to your startup scripts

    # matroxset -f /dev/fb0 -m 5
        This turns secondary output off
    # matroxset -f /dev/fb1 -m 2
        Connect secondary output to /dev/fb1
    # matroxset -f /dev/fb1 -o 1 2
        Set output 1 (secondary output) to NTSC.
    # matroxset -f /dev/fb1 -o 1 1
        Set output 1 (secondary output) to PAL.

At this point, TV-out should be working, but it may look like it isn't (snowy or odd pattern). You should now be able to use /dev/fb1. Now would be a good time to test it. If you have a program that supports output to a framebuffer device, try it (but be sure to send it's output to /dev/fb1).

    # mplayer -vo fbdev -fb /dev/fb1 myfile.mpg

"-vop scale" tells mplayer to resize in software, so it might make it choppy. Using the expand/scale options together will scale the video to fill the screen, while preserving the aspect ratio. The "expand" option tells mplayer how big of a screen to use (putting a black border around the extra area) and "scale" will scale the video to fill the area specified. One could just leave the scale option out to have the video displayed centered while in it's original size.
I had some "tearing" issues when playing complex videos (mostly DVDs) that I was able to make look alot better by using "-ssf lgb=1". This applies a gaussian blur to the luma data. It looks better, but who really wants to be bluring their videos?

    # mplayer -vo fbdev -fb /dev/fb1 -vop expand=640:480,scale=640:-2 somefile.mpeg

TV-out (fb1) should be set by default to 640x480x32. To change it use fbset, but I don't recommend changing it unless you have a specific need.

    # fbset -fb /dev/fb1 -xres 400 -yres 260 -depth 16    <-- just an example

Recommended resolution for PAL is
    # fbset -yres 576 -xres 768 -upper 44 -lower 4 -vslen 1
You can set -xres to (512 <= xres < 1024).

6) Adjusting the picture

Petr Vandrovec says that he has got a few people asking about making the screen brighter, but I haven't needed to adjust my settings.
v4lctl can be used to make these adjustments. v4lctl is part of xawtv and fbtv. Please notice that I am specifying fb0 with v4lctl.

    # v4lctl -c /dev/fb0 bright XXX
        Set brightness 0-1023
    # v4lctl -c /dev/fb0 contrast XXX
        Set contrast ...
        See v4lctl -c /dev/fb0 list for list of option

The following is from Maarten ter Huurne on his experience with brightness/contrast

I had a serious brightness/contrast problem; the output looked very bad.
Strange that you didn't experience it, maybe this problem only occurs with
PAL? (assuming Canada uses NTSC)
Anyway, I tried various brightness/contrast settings and they all looked
awful, until I set contrast to 0. On my setup, there is a very discontinuous
change at contrast 185: 185 shows high contrast, 186 shows a black screen.
The entire range 0..185 has a lot more contrast than any value in the range
186..1023. I cannot explain it.


Canada and the US do use NTSC. It appears the brightness/contrast problem is a PAL issue (possibly).

Here is a follow-up from Maarten ter Huurne
I applied the 2.4.19-rc5 patch on the 2.4.19 release kernel (which is the same
as 2.4.19-rc5) and that fixed the strangeness on the brightness/contrast
controls. Now 0 is lowest just as one would expect. The settings I currently
use are "bright 320", "contrast 280", "color 76" and "hue 0".

7) Getting a console

Uncompress con2fb
    # gunzip con2fb.c.gz
Then compile and install
    # gcc -Wall -o con2fb con2fb.c
    # mv con2fb /usr/sbin

Now to set a console on fb1. Change tty5 to whichever console you want to be connected to fb1.
    # con2fb /dev/fb1 /dev/tty5
Now hit alt-f5 and you should see picture on the TV.

8) Getting XFree86 to play nicely (recently revised, may need corrections)

    Now we need to add some options to the /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file. This will vary depending on what you want your setup to do. If you have a G450 (the G550 doesn't appear to have this problem), then you will have to contend with the BusID problem. This problem comes into play when the first head uses the mga driver, but the second needs the fbdev driver. The second driver fails to initialize because the first head (mga driver) has already claimed that BusID. The solutions available are:

a) Not use X on the second head, just use it as a FB (you can play movies with a console and direct the output to the fb1 device, this is what I do)

Only the two options marked below need to be added to get XFree86 to cooperate. This setup doesn't allow XFree86 any control of the second head. You can simply use a terminal (xterm, aterm, etc...) to launch any fb programs. Just make sure that you tell the program to use the fb1 device.

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "MATROX CARD 1"
    Driver      "mga"
    VendorName  "Matrox"
    BoardName   "G450"
    BusID       "PCI:1:0:0"
    Option    "UseFBDev"       <-- Add this option, otherwise the screen will be corrupted
    Option    "HWcursor" "no"  <-- Make sure to add this to prevent a corrupted cursor

b) Use the same driver for both heads. This means that any features (DRI, XVideo, etc...) will not be available. If you use Xinerama, the colour depth must be the same for both heads.

Look for a Device section (there could be several, but there needs to be one for each head that you want to use). This section is from my config for the first head.

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "MATROX CARD 1"
    Driver      "fbdev"        <-- fewer features, but won't conflict with second head
    VendorName  "Matrox"           note that G550 users can try the mga driver instead
    BoardName   "G450"
    BusID       "PCI:1:0:0"    <-- This number will vary, but AGP cards will use this number
    Option    "UseFBDev"       <-- Add this option, otherwise the screen will be corrupted
    Option    "HWcursor" "no"  <-- Make sure to add this to prevent a corrupted cursor
    Option "fbdev" "/dev/fb0"

The second head will need something similar to the following.

Section "Device"
        Identifier  "MATROX CARD 2"
        Driver      "fbdev"
        VendorName  "Matrox"
        BoardName   "G450"
        Option "fbdev" "/dev/fb1"

The second head needs a Monitor and Screen section.

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier   "console"
    VendorName   "Unknown"
    ModelName    "Unknown"
    HorizSync    31.5 - 31.5  <-- Make certain that if a monitor is hooked-up
    VertRefresh  50.0 - 70.0      to this head that these settings are ok

Section "Screen"
        Identifier "Display 2"
        Device     "MATROX CARD 2"
        Monitor    "console"
        DefaultDepth 16        <-- change to match your fb settings
        SubSection "Display"
                Depth     16        <-- change to match your fb settings
                Modes    "640x480"  <-- change to match your fb settings

Next you will need to modify the ServerLayout section to add another screen.

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier     "tvout"
    Screen         "Display 1" 0 0
    Screen         "Display 2" RightOf "Display 1"
    InputDevice    "Mouse1" "CorePointer"
    InputDevice    "Keyboard1" "CoreKeyboard"

9) Conclusion/getting help

Notice about using fbtv. I have noticed that fbtv seems to require it's own console. Therefore you must setup a console on fb1 using con2fb and then run fbtv from that console.

Here are a few links that may be useful
Teletux Digital Video - SyncFB module. This module is better for viewing movies on your monitor.
Macro disable - Perl script to disable Macrovision copy protection
MPlayer Docs - section on TV-out
DirectFB - using DirectFB to provide features similar to windows DVDMax.

Check the link below, check my tvout main page for updates, or email me at

Dan Eriksen