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poorly written xorg.conf leads to frozen computer



I wanted to change the screen resolution used during the gdm and map some buttons on my mouse. I normally accomplish this using an xorg.conf file, but I noticed that Fedora (and every other distro) no longer uses this as it's not even present. I read on the Fedora Forums that one could still create it, place it in /etc/X11,  and Xorg would use it. I tried that, but it didn't use it. After some searching, it appears that Xorg uses HAL for everything now and that I must use HAL's fdi configuration files. I saw examples to configure the mouse, but none to configure the resolutions. I then read on a forum that you can cause xorg.conf to be read by including the Option "AutoAddDevices" False in the ServerFlags section. So I tried that and now I'm locked out.
Is there any good documentation on what I'm trying to accomplish?
I noticed everything on HAL, and Xorg in general, is very dated, at around 2005-6.
How can I just prevent X from starting up, so I can delete that file?
Currently I have the plymouth boot going so I'm not sure how to stop the process.


Also, on a side note, does anyone know how to change the number of workspaces in Gnome?
I couldn't find an option so I ended up installed gconf.
I thought I found the option in apps->metacity->number of workspaces, but changing that does nothing.

thanks

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