PeterUbuntu is probably the most popular distro at present, particularly amongst newbies to Linux. I have had a similar problem with screen resolution in the past, although not limited to quite such a low res as 640 x 480. The installer ought to pick something higher than that (usually at least 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768).
The problem may be because Ubuntu does not include the (proprietary) Nvidia and ATI drivers in order to keep to the terms of the GPL licence. You will probably need to install the appropriate driver depending on which graphics card you use. (Nvidia works much better with Linux than ATI). This should be fairly straightforward using the Synaptic package installer included with Ubuntu, although it may require specific repositories to be enabled. After installation of the proprietary graphics driver, you should reboot (one of the very few occasions when it is necessary to reboot Linux after installing software. You will probably need to go into the appropriate section of the PC settings to find (hopefully) a significantly extended list of screen resolutions and select the one for your monitor. I can't help you with the exact location of this setting since Ubuntu uses Gnome and I'm a KDE man myself. Alastair dabbles with Ubuntu and may be able to give you more precise directions. You might also want to visit http://ubuntuforums.org/ and search on 'screen resolution' - there are quite a few threads on the topic. Some of the solutions suggested include editing a file xorg.conf. If you need to do this and are a bit leery of doing so, let me know.
Mike L Peter Dodds wrote:
Mike - you've reminded me - I have tried all the distros you kindly sent me (some time ago now) and decided that I liked the look and feel of Ubuntu best. However, it will only display at 640 x <something> no other options are available. Any suggestions? Peter