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My laptop computer has a Nvidia video card and runs Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64-bit. During an upgrade yesterday it seemed as a new Nvidia driver version 304 (if I remember correct) was installed. After upgrade and reboot, I opened the Additional Driver tool and found that the Nvidia driver version 304 was in use. So far so good.

However, the Additional Driver tool also reported that there existed a Nvidia driver version 319 and that this driver version was recommended. I then selected to change to this recommended driver, the driver was downloaded and installed, I rebooted the system and ended up with a black screen and a command shell.

How to change proprietary Nvidia video driver using the command line and revert back to the previous version that worked on my system?

(A second question: How can it be that a video driver that apparently does not work was recommended?)

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4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You can use jockey-text to disable and enable Nvidia drivers in Ubuntu.

For example:

  • Run jockey-text --list to get the list of available options.

  • Run sudo jockey-text -d xorg:nvidia_304 to remove the 304 driver.

  • Run sudo jockey-text -e xorg:nvidia_304 to enable the same driver.

  • Run jockey-text --help to see the help manual.

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what about in 13.10? I don't have a tool called jockey. – northben Feb 24 '14 at 14:23
jockey-text is provided by jockey-common: sudo apt-get install jockey-common – bacon Feb 24 '14 at 17:30
14.04 (maybe 13.10 also) replaced jockey-common with ubuntu-drivers-common which has the ubuntu-drivers executable that works differently. – Nick T Jul 23 '14 at 23:01

As per this Ubuntu Community Help Wiki Page, Ubuntu 14.04+ is different:

Ubuntu 14.04 and up

The jockey-text command was removed with the release of Ubuntu 14.04. You can now use ubuntu-drivers to get the list of packages for each driver, and then install the packages using apt-get. For example:

sudo ubuntu-drivers devices

== /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:01.0/0000:01:00.0 ==

vendor   : NVIDIA Corporation
modalias : pci:v000010DEd00000DDAsv000017AAsd000021D1bc03sc00i00
model    : GF106GLM [Quadro 2000M]
driver   : xserver-xorg-video-nouveau - distro free builtin
driver   : nvidia-304-updates - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-304 - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-331 - distro non-free recommended
driver   : nvidia-331-updates - distro non-free

sudo apt-get install nvidia-331

Ubuntu 12.04 (same as mikewhatever's answer)

If you need to change drivers without the use of the X GUI, perhaps because those drivers are not installed, you can with the jockey-text command. For example:

jockey-text --help
jockey-text -l
jockey-text -e xorg:nvidia_current
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I had the same problem using 304/319 drivers from repositories, Nvidia has proprietary drivers on their website, installed from there they actually work quite well, I used this manual to remove remaining drivers and install the correct one directly from Nvidia.

Make sure you pay attention to everything, especially make sure that in /etc/default/grub line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT contains nomodeset, otherwise Nvidia driver does not work.

Also if proprietary drivers do not work and you are stuck in command line, you may always uninstall Nvidia drivers and install the default nouveau driver.

$ sudo apt-get auroremove --purge nvidia-*
$ sudo stop lightdm
$ sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-nouveau
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You can also download the .sh file from nvidia then follow the steps:

  • First press control+alt+f1 - to exit GUI mode

    • sudo service gdm stop (on ubuntu)
    • navigate to the folder you downloaded nvidia drivers
    • ./
    • sudo reboot after install
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