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This is a spiritual follow up to this

I am doing some modern OpenGL tutorials and I have found that MESA does not support openGL 3.0+, so I need to get back to FGLRX even if its given me grief in the past.

Every time I have tried to install FGLRX drivers I generally get thrown to the terminal and have to do some recovery, etc. before I can get them to work.

Problem is, now that my main monitor is borked, when I install FGLRX drivers I cannot boot to terminal.

Question: How do I back up my current windowing so that when I (inevitably) lost my boot due to FGLRX installation, I can recover it with a livecd without reinstalling, and how can I install it without a main monitor?

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The easiest way is to usually have another computer you can log in from via ssh or VNC. It's a pretty simple matter to apt-get remove the fglrx package or modify your xorg.conf to pull your system back into a working state.

If you really make a mess of things, you can also run a live CD and just use it to mount your hard drive, or boot your system into recovery mode (which you can get to by holding down the shift key before GRUB shows up) which gives you some of the more common recovery options before it tries to load the graphics drivers.

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For the first time since ive switched to Ubuntu, the GUI install of the ati drivers "just worked"! Marking as answer because when they break again it'll be the answer i was looking for. Unfortunately the closed source drivers are crap, per usual. Wouldn't suggest them to anyone who doesn't need opengl >2.1 for anything. –  Chris Apr 9 '12 at 15:15
    
@Chris Yeah, personally these days I stick with nVidia... their drivers still suck too (especially when it comes to multi-head configuration) but at least they suck less. –  fluffy Apr 9 '12 at 16:20

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