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e.g. in my Lucid 10.04 LTS system I had to uninstall the ubuntu proprietary drivers and manually install drivers from nvidia.com for an upgraded video adapter to get the system to work.

This does not seem to be in agreement with MS's policy or with the Ubuntu wiki

"nvidia-graphics-drivers" versions published in Ubuntu

Precise (295.20-0ubuntu1): restricted/misc 
Lucid-updates (195.36.24-0ubuntu1~10.04.1): restricted/misc 
Oneiric (280.13-0ubuntu6): restricted/misc 
Natty (270.41.06-0ubuntu1): restricted/misc 
Maverick (260.19.06-0ubuntu1): restricted/misc 
Lucid (195.36.15-0ubuntu2): restricted/misc 

This list seems to be out of date, my maverick system has 295.20-0ubuntu1~maverick~xup1 installed.

Update: Versions as of 17-OCT-2012

Quantal (304.51.really.304.43-0ubuntu1): restricted/misc 
Lucid-updates (195.36.24-0ubuntu1~10.04.3): restricted/misc 
Precise-updates (295.40-0ubuntu1.1): restricted/misc 
Oneiric-updates (280.13-0ubuntu6.2): restricted/misc 
Natty-updates (270.41.06-0ubuntu1.2): restricted/misc 
Lucid-security (195.36.24-0ubuntu1~10.04.3): restricted/misc 
Natty-security (270.41.06-0ubuntu1.2): restricted/misc 
Oneiric-security (280.13-0ubuntu6.2): restricted/misc 
Precise-security (295.40-0ubuntu1.1): restricted/misc 
Precise (295.40-0ubuntu1): restricted/misc 
Oneiric (280.13-0ubuntu6): restricted/misc 
Natty (270.41.06-0ubuntu1): restricted/misc 
Lucid (195.36.15-0ubuntu2): restricted/misc 
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4 Answers 4

There's always a tension in LTS releases between supporting the latest hardware and ensuring that existing hardware works.

For the kernel on 10.04, this is supported with the linux-backports-* kernels - they're kernels from the current development release, so include the most current hardware support. Importantly, they're opt in - if you need them, then you can install them, but if your hardware worked at 10.04 release we can be much more confident that your hardware will continue to work with the default (2.6.32) kernel than with linux-backports-*.

For Ubuntu 12.04 there are analogous nvidia-current-updates and fglrx-updates packages. We can update these without fear of breaking hardware that worked at release, and users who need them can opt-in.

Major driver updates - for example, from the 195 series drivers to 295 series drivers - carry serious risks of making things which currently work fail. This is unacceptable for an LTS: people use the LTS precisely so they don't get breaking changes. The nvidia-current-updates solution avoids this problem.

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Firstly, the Ubuntu Wiki, as is the case with almost any wiki, is edited and maintained by the community. It can easily become out of date, and if you find any outdated information, you are encouraged to suggest an edit.

Secondly, the main issue with supporting the latest drivers on old releases is support for older kernels and versions of the X display manager. It becomes difficult to maintain compatibility as things get older, and eventually, the developers have to drop off support for some of the older software in order to introduce new features, seal off some bugs, and support newer APIs, etc. This is why you will find, that despite 10.04 being an LTS release, it does not always have the option to get the latest and "greatest" software and drivers. Fortunately, 12.04, the next LTS release, will allow you to run later versions of the NVidia drivers, so you can upgrade to it when it is available.

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on the 12.04 the support for nvidia-173 is not working, since it lacks the necessary ABI support. The nvidia-current driver does but not support the fx 5 series (mine is nvidia fx 5500), so good bye for the 3D-accel for now. grrrr

(the manual installing of the drivers (the current or 173) isn't working as well, since the first one does not actually run on fx5500 and the second lacks th ABI support.) any help?

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why the LTS does not support the latest drivers...

The LTS is aimed to provide the a stable system for the largest range of people and systems.

Thus if you are looking for the latest - look at the next development release and/or install PPAs or compile your own code. Potential instability should be expected - so this is not for the faint-hearted.

Good news...

Due to Canonical's focus now on bringing the latest games onto the 12.04 & newer releases, experimental packages are now available.

The key phrase is experimental - they are the latest (or almost latest) straight from the key graphics vendors. They have been tested by those vendors and are to be released to beta testers. Thus you need to carefully consider this if you are not confident to fix black-screen issues.

Nvidia

Newer - more experimental packages are to be made available to 12.04 and future releases.

These packages are tagged nvidia-experimental - at the time of writing, the package is nvidia-experimental-304. To find the experimental package type nvidia-experimental and press TAB to autocomplete the name.

i.e.

sudo apt-get install nvidia-experimental-304

When releasing, canonical first releases to the proposed repository before they make it into the main repositories - hence you may wish to enable the proposed repository in update-manager - settings

Apparently, canonical aim to get the latest driver into proposed within 3 days of Nvidia releasing to public beta.

AMD

As yet, the proposal to get the latest drivers are not currently defined.

You'll need to look at the AMD website for the latest drivers yourself.

Intel

The latest Intel drivers are to be made available through the x-updates PPA

To install:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

For further information and the source of this answer see Bryce Harrington's excellent blog.

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