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When I try to install the nvidia driver for my video card, I receive an error message.

ERROR: You appear to be running an X server; please exit X before            
       installing. For further details, please see the section INSTALLING   
       THE NVIDIA DRIVER in the README available on the Linux driver         
       download page at

I wasn't able to find the README on the website but how do I create a terminal that is non-X? I am on 12.04.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Do the following:

  • Press Alt + Ctrl + F1.
  • login using your id / password
  • stop the lightdm by sudo stop lightdm
  • Now install the nvidia driver. If you are using open source driver you might need to restart once and run the steps again.
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I did this and was able to install the proprietary Nvidia driver. Ctrl-Alt-F7 reverts to the Unity GUI. However, you will probably regret installing the proprietary Nvidia driver if you have an Optimus GPU. Use bumblebee instead. – H2ONaCl Aug 23 '12 at 13:16
Yea.. Optimus system aren't supported.. Its written in the driver download page – Web-E Aug 23 '12 at 18:05
You really only need the Ctrl part of the key combination to switch from a virtual console that has X running on it. To switch back to your GUI, or from one text-based virtual console to another, Alt+F7 (or Fn for another virtual console n) is quite sufficient. – Eliah Kagan Aug 23 '12 at 23:55

I've always just done it from single user mode. When booting, hit Shift while grub is loading (i.e., you can just hold down Shift as the computer starts up until you get a GRUB menu). Select "recovery mode." Select "root terminal", and run it from there.

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  • First find out the exact command you need to type on the terminal to install the drivers. i.e. Something like sudo apt-get install nvidia-something-something
  • Restart the machine.
  • On login screen. Switch to one of the virtual console, say ctrl+alt+f1.
  • Login with a username who has sudo rights i.e. you should be able to run sudo apt-get install command.
  • Run the command you noted in the first step on the terminal, you see.
  • After installation, you can type exit to logout and press Alt+F7 to go back to the gui login screen.
  • Use the ubuntu gui.
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he want to install nvidia proprietary driver. Not open source. The above steps will install nvidia open source driver – Web-E Jun 29 '12 at 15:17

Press Ctrl+Alt+F1 and log in. Press Ctrl+Alt+F7 to switch back to X.

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The Ctrl-Alt-F1 produces a terminal that results in the same complaint about X Terminal. To take the error message literally, I guess the problem is the X Server. – H2ONaCl Jun 29 '12 at 14:45
This won't stop x – Web-E Jun 29 '12 at 15:16
Run sudo service lightdm stop after login to stop X. Run sudo service lightdm start to start X again. – Florian Diesch Jun 29 '12 at 16:10
Ctrl-Alt-F7 takes you back to Unity. – H2ONaCl Aug 22 '12 at 8:30

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