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Why aren't 1440x900, 1680x1050, etc. not supported?
The chipset in his laptop is not supported by any open source driver, so Feisty defaults to the 'vesa' driver. The vesa driver is generally considered a failsafe driver and. I'm going to hazard a guess that it tries to use the minimum configuration it thinks it can get away with. If it starts up X at 1440x900, and the monitor doesn't support it, the user doesn't see anything, which is certainly a worse situation :-)
And is there a reason somebody at "Team Ubuntu" can't edit the VESA driver?
Perhaps they want the vesa driver to fallback to basic, commonly supported resolutions, rather than trying more rarely supported resolutions.
EDIT: By the way, have you (or anyone else, for that matter) opened up a bug report about this? Maybe they've never made these changes because they just never saw the need. Edited 2007-04-10 23:33