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I just ordered the Nvidia GTX 560 card, which should arrive tomorrow. I have a dilemma, though. Should I keep using the driver which is available in "additional drivers" in Ubuntu (10.10), or should I install the driver from the nvidia site?

NOTE - The methods to install explained here apply to all Nvidia, Ati & Intel video cards

The latest driver available at the nvidia site:

LINUX X64 (AMD64/EM64T) DISPLAY DRIVER
Version:
280.13 Certified
Release Date:
2011.08.01
Operating System:
Linux 64-bit
Language:
English (U.S.)
File Size:
52.4 MB

I should point out that I don't need the card to unleash its full potential in Ubuntu (I have Windows for gaming, other HDD), I just need it to work properly, that meaning the power saving should work (I don't want the card to overheat for no reason), also I would like the fans to work at proper speeds, etc.

So which driver is the best for me?

share|improve this question
    
"Which driver should I install when using an Nvidia, Ati or Intel video card" In my expirience, with AMD you don't even want to think about anything else then the standard drivers that Ubuntu uses. With Nvidia you can use theirs for more efficiency. I have no expirience with intel drivers. –  Dr_Bunsen Apr 6 '13 at 12:09
    
+1 to Dr_Bunsen's comment. ATI drivers are painful, at least for pre HD 6k versions. Have had good experiences with NVidia drivers. –  Brandon Bertelsen Apr 19 '13 at 20:33
    
using nvidia 460 and these steps, it automatically adds some bumblebee-stuff thats only for laptops/hybrids, had low graphics and all kinds of errors until i purge system of bumblebee. Clearly a bug –  Emil Mar 4 at 5:18
    
@Emil The solution has been added to the answer below at the end of Section 7. –  Luis Mar 7 at 16:45

7 Answers 7

up vote 76 down vote accepted
+100

This Answer is oriented towards learning if your Video card is supported, the difference between drivers (sources). what drivers to install and how to install them

  • 1. Can I use the latest driver on an older version of Ubuntu?
  • 2. Difference between video cards & drivers: Official site, Ubuntu's Default, PPA?
  • 3. What PPAs are recommended when using any video card?
  • 4. How to know which driver or package to install?
  • 5. How to install a driver?
  • 6. Difference between Proprietary Drivers?
  • 7. How to know if my video card is supported in Ubuntu?

For Troubleshooting Nvidia Problems or Overclocking Settings please see this answer which covers:

  • 1. What common bugs are solved by using the latest drivers?
  • 2. My video card is not installing (Installation problems)
  • 3. Tuning and Tweaking by Video card

Top questions asked about video cards:

1. Can I use the latest driver on an older version of Ubuntu?

Ubuntu 12.04+

Since 12.04+ video drivers are maintained and updated more often. It is easier to handle and solve the problems that showed with older ones. You most likely won't need additional PPAs unless you have the latest Nvidia card.

2. Difference between video cards & drivers: Official site, Ubuntu's Default, PPA

I recommend them in the following order according to problems found, how the "out of the box" experience feels to end users, how compatible they are and how it will feel once you have it set up:

Intel - Works out of the box. Most will work with no problems. Great for using a Video Beam. Just plug it in. The benefits relate to how fast the Intel video card is. In general you should not have any problems with them.

NVIDIA / ATI - Great Performance. It works out of the box for most cards by using their open source drivers but if you install their proprietary drivers it will much better since it will use the full capability of the video card. Most cards work excellent with Unity.

In the case of laptops, if you had 3 laptops to choose from, and they all were the same except for the video card, I would first go with Intel, followed by Nvidia and lastly by Ati. This is based on how well the laptop will perform in general, how long it will last, heat problems and more.

In the cas of Desktop PCs, I would choose Nvidia over Intel and Intel over Ati.

In general, Ubuntu will work without problems or at least with a minimum of tweaking. The performance gain in the past months for all 3 and the amount of fixes they have received just lets us know that there will be fewer problems for each new version of Ubuntu.

As I mentioned before, there are at least 3 ways to install a driver. You can either download the driver from the Official site, use the one that comes with Ubuntu by default (Either open source or proprietary) or add a PPA and use the one that comes with it (There are more ways but I will not cover compiling drivers).

For Intel you either use the drivers that come with Ubuntu (Which can be updated every time you update the system), add a PPA that will offer the latest version of the Intel Drivers or the one I am recommending is to use the Intel Graphics Installer. This solves issues when using Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge or newer/older Intel graphics cards.

For Nvidia and Ati/AMD, you have 3 options, you can either use the driver that comes from the Official site, use the one that comes in a PPA or use the one that comes by default with Ubuntu (In the form of the Open Source one or the Proprietary one).

The differences can be summed in the following points:

-- Official Site --

  • Offers the latest driver
  • Installation is through the terminal
  • When an update appears you have to manually download the new package
  • It has more issues than any other method (Specially for Nvidia)
  • It is the 2nd recommended way for Ati/AMD and the last one for Nvidia
  • Drivers for Ati/AMD are much better than the ones that come by default

-- PPA Repositories --

  • Offers the latest driver hours/days after it's official release
  • Installation is either through terminal or GUI
  • If you have a previously installed driver it will update the package automatically
  • When an update appears you will be notified to update using the Update Manager
  • It is more stable and tested than the official ones
  • It has less issues than using any other method (Less issues for all video cards)
  • It is the 1st recommended way for Ati/AMD and Nvidia. Intel drivers that come by default are excellent.

-- Default Ubuntu Drivers --

  • For every new release the drivers get better and better (Specially for Intel)
  • Gets updated less frequently than a PPA
  • In most cases the drivers will work out of the box (Nouveau for Nvidia)
  • Not up to date when compared with the official site or a PPA
  • More stable for Intel
  • Development is going well for all video cards.
  • It is by far, more tested in Ubuntu than any other way (PPA or Official)
  • Easier to update

3. What PPA is recommended when using any video card?

Xorg Edgers - The name implies that it is bleeding edge but don't let that fool you. Since 12.04 it has progressively become more and more stable. When using 12.10 (Or even the 14.10 Alpha) for cases like Intel and Nvidia, the video card runs much better and offers better performance. It updates more quickly with a time frame between 1 to 5 days (The last versions have all come out on the same day as the official one). Note that if the drivers (Proprietary or Open Source) than come with Ubuntu are working correctly, there is no need to add this PPA.

To install simply run the add-apt-repository command in the terminal as shown:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa   
sudo apt-get update   
sudo apt-get upgrade   

This would update the system taking into consideration any packages the PPA offers. If you already had an Nvidia, Intel or Ati driver installed, this would also update that driver.

4. How to know which driver or package to install?

Depending on how many video cards you have and if they are integrated or not, the installation method and packages to install will change.

COMPUTERS WITH A SINGLE VIDEO CARD

Nvidia right now has several package versions for different generations of Nvidia cards:

  • Nvidia 1xx - For older Nvidia Cards ranging from Geforce MX up to the 9xxx series.

  • Nvidia 2xx - For older Nvidia Cards ranging from Geforce MX up to the 9xxx series.

  • Nvidia 3xx - For newer ones. Goes from the Geforce 6xxx series up to the latest ones. Note, for the Geforce 600 series, you actually need the 313 or 319 series because of better support, HDMI enhancements and more. I recommend the 319.

If you are using an older Ubuntu version you might see Nvidia package version like 185.xx, 275.xx and others. With the latest Ubuntu versions, this gets a bit of cleaning up and simplifies the amount of packages.

Starting with Nvidia 319.xx, both Nvidia Optimus and the common PCIe drivers are integrated into one, so if you install the Nvidia-319 package or newer, you will get the driver for the Integrated Nvidia cards and also for the PCI ones.

COMPUTERS WITH A SLI SETUP

Now if you have 2 or more video cards in SLI mode you can do the following:

  • For NVidia cards, when creating the Xorg.conf add the following to the line:

     sudo nvidia-xconfig --sli=On
    

COMPUTERS WITH A TWO VIDEO CARDS IN HYBRID MODE

In case you have for example, a laptop that has 2 video cards integrated. One Intel and the other Nvidia, using the methods provided by the other settings is not recommended. At least for any video drive lower than 319.17 (Which is the version that comes with Hybrid support). You would need to follow the install procedure for Bumblebee (Optimus) packages which were made for Hybrid scenarios like this, where the user has 2 video cards from 2 different companies and where one video card is typically used for lower power usage and the other for gaming.

Lastly, Ubuntu has a neat way of recommending which driver to use depending on your video card and drivers available (This is why I also recommend adding the PPAs first). Simply type:

 ubuntu-drivers devices

It should show you a list of driver packages available for your hardware, including but not limited to the video card. If you wish to see which driver is recommended for your video card then simply type the following:

 ubuntu-drivers devices | grep recommended

For example, in my case, since I have an Nvidia 560 ti I got the following:

cyrex@cyrex:~$ ubuntu-drivers devices
== /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:01.0/0000:01:00.0 ==
model    : GF114 [GeForce GTX 560 Ti]
modalias : pci:v000010DEd00001200sv000019DAsd00002227bc03sc00i00
vendor   : NVIDIA Corporation
driver   : nvidia-313 - third-party free
driver   : nvidia-313-updates - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-310-updates - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-310 - distro non-free
driver   : xserver-xorg-video-nouveau - distro free builtin
driver   : nvidia-304 - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-304-updates - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-319 - third-party free recommended

cyrex@cyrex:~$ ubuntu-drivers devices|grep recommended
driver   : nvidia-319 - third-party free recommended

This way I know I need to install the nvidia-319 package.

5. How to install a driver?

The method used will be depend on how many video cards you have and which type of video cards you are using. The following are some of the ways of installing an Nvidia video card:

NVIDIA (Old Drivers that need the headers)

For Nvidia, many times you need to first install the header files of the kernel version you are using at that moment for the driver to install correctly. So you would first need to execute the following line:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic  

And then install the package related to the driver (nvidia* for Nvidia cardss). In other cases you might need to go a little further and install the sources and specific header files, for example:

sudo apt-get install linux-source linux-headers-3.5.0-16-generic  

which installs the linux-source package and the specific header file assuming you have in this case the 3.5.0-16-generic kernel version.

To check which version you have at any given time type uname -r which should give you the specific kernel version in use.

NVIDIA

For Nvidia, it depends on the video card and package needed for it, if the video card is old then most likely you will end up running an Nvidia 1xx driver, like the following line:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-173

(Again, assuming you added the PPA)

or one of the following:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-304

sudo apt-get install nvidia-graphics-drivers-304

If you have one of the latest Nvidia cards (For example an Nvidia 2xx Series and above), then it is recommended to install the latest package which at this moment is:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-313

If you have an Nvidia Geforce 600 Series card or Titan, I highly recommend using the 319 series:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-319

Of course, the newer the version, the more fixes it brings and issues it solves related to graphics corruption, HDMI support, thermal support and more on the latest Nvidia cards. If you are having VGA/HDMI issues where it works in one mode and not in the other, then go with the nvidia-313 or newer to solve this issue. Specially when using TVs.

Note that Fan Control and any other Nvidia features that are not found on the nvidia-settings app, are not Ubuntu related, but Nvidia related. I would recommend, asking the Nvidia developers in the official Nvidia forum about features you may want to include (Fan Control, Overclocking features, etc...)

HYBRID (Intel/Nvidia)

The exception for both here is when you have 2 video cards (Like a laptop with an Intel video card and an Nvidia card). In this cases I would suggest the following links:

NOTE: Before doing the following remember to first remove any installed Nvidia Packages:

 sudo apt-get purge nvidia*    
 sudo nvidia-uninstall

For Bumblebee (NVIDIA Optimus) you can use the following PPA:

     sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
     sudo apt-get update
     sudo apt-get install bumblebee

6. Difference between Proprietary Drivers?

This is more of an Nvidia question, but as I mentioned in Difference between Additional Drivers (Nvidia) there is some information that you should know:

In general there are 3 options:

  • The Open Source Nouveau which runs by default if no other Proprietary driver is installed.

  • The Proprietary driver (Tested)

  • The Proprietary driver (Experimental)

Depending if "you feel lucky punk!" you can go with Nouveau which works well in most cases but it is not recommended if you want to start testing out Windows Games with Wine or Ubuntu games that use extensive OpenGL (Specially now that Steam is available in Ubuntu).

Then you have the Tested Proprietary drivers. This will work stable and give you considerable more FPS for your card than Nouveau.

Lastly you have the Experimental Proprietary drivers. This will work good in most cases (Using them right now and they work perfectly). This drivers bring a considerably higher performance. You should feel the change when playing L4D2 or see it with unity on how fast Dash and other Compiz features react.

Depending on which one you want, you can go with Open Source Nouveau, Proprietary Tested one or the Experimental one. Note only that either of the Proprietary drivers is recommended for the latest Nvidia cards (Series 6000 and above). Nouveau is more general in that regards but will not offer powerful 3D performance.

7. How to know if my video card is supported in Ubuntu?

Here are a couple of hints to know if your video card is supported in Ubuntu:

  • If the video card existed BEFORE the release of the Ubuntu version you are using, it has a 99% change it will be supported.

  • If the video card appeared less than 6 months AFTER the release of the Ubuntu version you are using and you kept that Ubuntu version updated, then you have a pretty good chance it will be supported.

  • If you added one of the PPAs I mentioned above then you have a 99.99% chance that it will be supported.

  • Checking the Nvidia/Ati/Intel site for support might yield a quicker answer, but in almost 100% of all cases, your video card will be support either by the open source driver or by the proprietary driver. In most cases, it will be the proprietary driver.

  • Using the latest Ubuntu version will also improve your chances of having your latest video card supported.

In general, I make it a rule of thumb that if you have the latest video card or almost one of the latest video cards, you will need the latest drivers (Nvidia and Ati mostly). So always install the latest drivers through the PPA or the Software Sources that come with Ubuntu (Jockey in older versions of Additional Drivers).

NOTE - Ubuntu might show in the Graphics option in "About This Computer" the value Unknown. If this is happening, please install the mesa-utils package.

For Tweaking, Troubleshooting or other type of information please read the answer provided here: http://askubuntu.com/a/431824/7035

share|improve this answer
2  
This completely saved me and I really think that this documentation should go on Ubuntu's site or somewhere more accessible. It took a few days to search through and find this (especially the tool that recommends the proper driver which was my whole issue from the start) –  shaneonabike Aug 20 '13 at 16:17
2  
I tried to edit this but could not (there's a size limit :/) Anyway, people should note that X SWAT is no longer available after Quantal! –  shaneonabike Aug 21 '13 at 13:03
    
@shaneonabike Thank, will update. –  Luis Aug 21 '13 at 16:43
    
Outstanding. Saved me a lot of time. Your effort is really appreciated. –  Eric Lindauer Aug 31 '13 at 4:27
1  
I vote this answer of the year. :) The last time I had to deal with Ubuntu + nVidia was back in 2007 and I was worried I'd have to go through the same issues. Thanks to Luis's post, the installation went so smooth. –  Waldir Leoncio Sep 15 '13 at 11:15

Wanted to throw my caveat out there on the subject after spending last 2 days with this.

I've been using Ubuntu for years. Last week I retired my old quad core AMD 940 based pc and built a new AMD 8350 8 core with asus mobo and for a video card since I don't play games I bought a new GTX 650 gpu card.

After installing the GTX 650.. it worked fine with the Noveau driver but I wanted to use the video cards HDMI port and for whatever reason that didn't work w/my HP w2207h monitor.

NOTE:  I'd actually never tried the hdmi port on that monitor before so I don't know if 
it ever worked as that monitor is now nearly 4 years old.

So I first installed the Ubuntu NVIDIA "Current Proprietary" tested.

Still no HDMI but the unity desktop etc all still worked ok.

Thinking maybe I should try the linux driver directly from NVIDIA I went to their driver section, searched for the linux GTX 650 card and downloaded that .run file - where is going to be some long driver name.

Next step for those new to ubuntu/unity

Press ctrl + alt + F1 puts me in a terminal

Next before you will be able to apply the NVIDIA driver you have to kill the LIGHTDM that is still running in the background.

       $ sudo service lightdm stop

Once lightdm is stopped you have to change the .run file to be executable:

       $ sudo chmod +x ./<nvidia>.run

then finally execute the new driver install program.

       $ sudo ./<nvidia>.run

this will start and ask you multiple questions you will have to answer.

when its done you reboot.

Now my warning.

Before you start doing all of the above you should either have a 2nd computer/laptop available so you can look up how to reverse the above if you have problems -or- you should have printed out all the info you need INCLUDING:

the command line you would need to "purge" the new Nvidia driver

       $ sudo ./<nvidia>.run --uninstall

once done you must install some video driver BEFORE you reboot unless you left the Noveau driver installed (re you didn't remove it -- which most say is not required to have tried the above NVIDIA proprietary driver).

Next... make sure you know the command line required to reinstall the Noveau driver if you have to.

So why did I post this?

I was quite careful installing the NVIDIA websites latest driver for the GTX 650 card.

However, after a reboot my Ubuntu 12.10 Unity desktop was crazy with various problems.

  1. I use synaptic but couldn't use it because launching it would just minimize it to the Unity tool bar on the left from which I couldn't make it appear on screen
  2. I couldn't launch the "System Settings" from desktop or from cli. It did the same thing as synaptic
  3. I found my mouse might or might not appear on the screen when I logged in. If not I'd have to do a shutdown ... not a reboot... to get it bac

Because I had not taken the time to prepare myself with how to remove that driver and reinstall a working one from the command line (remember I couldn't use the System Settings tool ?? ... it was a real pain to get back to my previously working system.

So do as the Boy Scout model says "be prepared" before you start down this road.

Worst of all for me... Even with NVIDIA's latest driver installed I could NOT get the HDMI port on the GTX 650 to display to my monitor. To double check I attached the HDMI cable to a 2nd much newer HDMI capable Monitor and still got NO SIGNAL with that.

So I am back to square one still trying to get my HDMI port to work BUT... glass 1/2 full I did learn alot in the process.

Hope this helps others.

share|improve this answer
    
Boy... never I never learn! My writeup above stated I had built a new PC and had just bought a new GTX 650 Nvidia graphics card which I could NOT connect using HDMI to 2 diff monitors. Today I thought well maybe its the NEW HDMI cable I'd just bought so I swapped HDMI cables with one from one of my TVs ... and it worked. So the new HDMI cable was no good. –  bmullan Jan 28 '13 at 19:36

Install the driver:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
sudo apt-get update

Install mesa-utils to display graphics info:

sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

glxinfo | grep OpenGL

Restart the computer:

sudo shutdown -r now

Resolving problems:

Configure a /etc/X11/xorg.conffile to get all resolutions. Info about configuring xorg.conf Use gtf to create a mode line

Making a file called xorg.conf and putting it in /etc/X11. X will read the config file and try to accept your statements. It will then auto config anything you don't explicitly say.

Running nvidia-xconfig creates a fishbone with basic configuration. Similar commands for other binary drivers may exist.

sudo service lightdm stop
sudo X -configure
sudo mv xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf
sudo start lightdm

This will create xorg.conf.new file in your current dir. Now you should do the following:

  1. kill x server
  2. generate a new xorg.conf file
  3. rename and move
  4. return to GUI

Better GUI (arandr) for manipulating resolutions etc:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install arandr
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Here is a detailed asnwer on how to get it done. It will list 2 ways of installing the latest Nvidia drivers on Ubuntu 12.10 to 14.04. Its best if you have synaptic installed on your system, because you will need it to install some files. If its not installed, just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the command(s) below:

sudo apt-get install synaptic

All the steps listed require the use of Terminal. To open it, just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard

The first way:

First thing to do is Update your Ubuntu distribution

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Reboot if required.

Download the latest driver for your distribution from Nvidia

Install linux-source + linux-headers-generic + dkms (Using Synaptic Package Manager)

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Install Build Essentilas, gcc and g++

sudo apt-get install build-essential gcc g++

Reboot your system at this point.

Once system is backup and running, edit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf, and add the following lines to the end of the file

blacklist vga16fb
blacklist nouveau
blacklist rivafb
blacklist nvidiafb
blacklist rivatv

Save and exit the file.

Remove any current Nvidia drivers

sudo apt-get remove --purge nvidia*

Remove any xserver-xorg-video-nouveau drivers

sudo apt-get --purge remove xserver-xorg-video-nouveau

Edit grub file

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

From the line that has GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX remove "quiet splash" and replace it with "text"

Update grub using the following commands

sudo update-grub
sudo update-initramfs -u

Reboot your system at this point. Once system reboots, it will be in text mode. Login to your system, and then do

sudo su

(enter your password)

cd Downloads

(providing that the Nvidia downloaded file was savwe there)

sh xxx.run 

(where xxx is the Nvidia file name) Click OK If a message comes up regarding the driver, click on yes (its very important that you click yes) Wait for the installation to finish, then

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

From the line that has GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX remove "test" and replace it with "quiet splash" then do

Ctrl+xyenter to save the file and exit.

Update grub using the following commands

sudo update-grub/
sudo update-initramfs -u

Reboot, and you're set.

The second way:

Just press Ctrl+Alt+T on your keyboard to open Terminal. When it opens, run the command(s) below:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa 
sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get install nvidia-340

enter image description here

Both methods have been tested with Nvidia Driver Version 340, and they both work OK. Many updates have been done after the fact, and everything works OK.

share|improve this answer
  • Download the driver and place it in your home directory

Download for 64bit: http://www.nvidia.com/object/linux-display-amd64-295.53-driver.html

Download for 32bit: http://www.nvidia.com/object/linux-display-ia32-295.53-driver.html

  • Do: ctrl + alt + F6 (Warning: This will switch you to a TTY, no GUI)
  • Login using your username and password
  • Type: sudo service lightdm stop
  • Type: sudo ./NVIDIA*
  • Type: sudo reboot

The driver should work with no problem now (I just did this with my GTX 570)

Test the driver by opening a terminal: (ctrl + alt + T)

  • Type: glxinfo | grep direct It should report back: direct rendering: Yes
  • To adjust your NVIDIA settings Type: nvidia-settings

NOTE: The script should blacklist the nouveau driver by default. If the NVIDIA driver isn't working, try to do this manually:

  • Type: sudoedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

Append the following lines:

blacklist nouveau
options nouveau modeset=0
  • Type: sudo reboot
share|improve this answer

The problem you're running into is that you don't have the linux source, so you can install the nvidia driver. I believe what you want is the linux headers for your kernel version.

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic should install the correct headers, which then will allow you to continue from where you left off.

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This answer is oriented towards resolving common Nvidia bugs (Black screen, drivers not working in general, low FPS, etc...)

  • 1. What common bugs are solved by using the latest drivers?
  • 2. My video card is not installing (Installation problems)
  • 3. Tuning and Tweaking by Video card

1. What common bugs are solved by using the latest drivers?

Common bugs shared by all video cards are:

  • Missing Unity launcher or panel
  • Missing options inside Nvidia Settings
  • Desktop does not appear (Black screen)
  • Top/Bottom of the screen are cut out
  • Video looks cut into pieces
  • Higher Resolutions are not usable (Not found)
  • Video shows with VGA but not with HDMI (And Vice Versa)
  • Suspend not working on Laptop when closing Lid
  • Fan speed makes a lot of noise or is always at full speed
  • Heat Problems
  • nvidia-xconfig not creating xorg.conf correctly

If you happen to have any of this, or similar in some aspects, it is generally a good idea to add one of the PPAs and update your video drivers to the latest they can manage. In almost all cases, the problem is solved after updating and rebooting. For this cases I also recommend using the Xorg Edgers PPA. Of course you also need to know which package to install. If you have an Nvidia Riva TNT, for the love of god, do not install the latest Nvidia 313 package. In that case you would need the oldest one, the nvidia-173 for example.

With the above mentioned, I also invite you to take a look at some of the questions related to video cards:

Which ATI/AMD, or Intel, or NVIDIA Graphics for Unity?

What is the correct way to install propetary ATI Catalyst Video Drivers (fglrx) directly from AMD?

How to correctly enable Desktop Cube in Unity 3D?

Enable HDMI audio for an Nvidia card

How do I enable desktop visual effects?

NVIDIA drivers not working after upgrade. Why can I only see terminal?

Desktop does not show when I installed nvidia drivers!

Black screen on latest Nvidia/Ati Cards when starting LightDM/Ubuntu

HDMI/VGA connection cuts borders of screen or creates blurry text

/etc/X11/xorg.conf doesn't exist?

Installing latest Nvidia from Xorg PPA gives black screen

Now some pointers I want to mention:

  • For NVIDIA Cards, it also helps to create the xorg.conf file using the nvidia-xconfig command line. Just go in the terminal to type the following and then reboot:

     sudo nvidia-xconfig
    

    Know that if nvidia-xconfig throws one of the following errors you most likely need to delete the existing xorg.conf file first before executing the nvidia-xconfig command again:

    • VALIDATION ERROR - It can mention section missings, incorrect information in a section, not closed sections or simply requiring at least 1 section to proceed.

    • WARNING - It can mention several errors in values regarding any parameter found in a section, for example not specifying explicitly a value for a parameter.

    • FATAL SERVER ERROR - After running nvidia-xconfig you can get in small cases a "no screens found" error which most likely means that the recommendations mentioned above like installing the PPA were not applied first or a possible module is still working (Either the nouveau is loading or an nvidia driver installed using the Nvidia driver package from the nvidia site.

    • ERROR - You will get an error similar to Unable to write to directory '/etc/X11' if you executed the nvidia-xconfig command without sudo. If the error persists via the nvidia-settings you need to delete the xorg.conf file first.

    For all the cases where you need to delete the xorg.conf file, please make sure to backup any changes to did to it before deleting it.

  • Reinstalling the driver solves several issues. For example, if you are using the nvidia-313 driver package, then do the following to reinstall it:

     sudo apt-get install --reinstall nvidia-313
    
  • Reinstalling Xorg also helps in other cases:

    1. Remove existing xorg using the following command

      sudo apt-get remove --purge xserver-xorg
      
    2. Install xorg using the following command

      sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg
      
    3. Reconfigure xorg using the following command

      sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg
      
    4. After this it is recommended to reinstall the video driver if you are using Nvidia or Ati as mentioned above.

I have to add that if you suffer from Black Screen aftering installing the Nvidia drivers from the PPA and rebooting (And you don't have a Hybrid System) then your problem might be the need to remove the bumblebee and primus packages along with the bumblebee.conf file. Follow the steps provided in Installing latest Nvidia from Xorg PPA gives black screen for this or simply run the following lines:

    sudo apt-get purge bumblebee primus   
    sudo rm -fr /etc/modprobe.d/bumblebee.conf
    sudo reboot

2. My video card is not installing correctly (Installation problems)

Most installation problems related to Ati or Nvidia can be solved by following the steps provided in Can not install Nvidia driver but in short I can summarize that in the following steps assuming you have one of the following issues:

  • Installed the official Nvidia drivers and have a problem updating or removing them
  • Screen looks wrong/corrupted
  • Unity does not load of fails to load
  • Can not access the GUI environment in no way

If you have installed the official Nvidia Drivers, follow all steps below after having started Ubuntu in Recovery Mode. If not, skip to step 2:

  1. If you installed the Nvidia driver from the Nvidia site or the Ati driver from the official AMD site, then type the following on the terminal (In this example assume you have the Ubuntu 64Bit with the 304.51 version of Nvidia):

    sudo sh NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-304.51.run --unistall
    
  2. If you have install any nvidia package like nvidia-current or nvidia-current-updates remove them. Same goes with Ati drivers. sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current for example.

  3. ANY change you did to blacklist the Nvidia/Ati driver for instance or changes to any other files related to the Nvidia/Ati drivers should be reversed. This is just in case you went ahead and started editing like crazy (Which happens I know ^^).

  4. Delete or backup/move the xorg.conf file. You will not need this file right now.

  5. After doing all the steps above then Reboot the PC and make sure it loads with Nouveau and not with any Nvidia drivers for Nvidia cases or with ati drivers and not with fglrx for Ati/AMD cases..

  6. If right now you KNOW you are running Unity with the Nouveau driver (Or Ati open source driver) or if you just happened to get a video error, or it just fails to correctly load LightDM, do not worry, all 3 options will end the same way. When rebooting, in the GRUB menu, select the "Recovery Mode". After the recovery mode shows you the recover options, choose the root option or the Failsafe X option. In this modes and after all previous steps have been done, install the nvidia/ati driver using the PPA I mentioned above. Always try to install the latest driver if you have a recent video card: sudo apt-get install nvidia-313 for Nvidia cards or sudo apt-get install fglrx for the latest Ati/AMD Cards. Remember there should not be anything installed before doing this in regards to Nvidia/Ati drivers (Except obviously the Nouveau drivers).

  7. Now reboot and all should work.

NOTE - In Step 6, if it looks as though the PC is stuck loading just press CTRL+ALT+F1 to go to the TTY1 terminal and do step 6 from there.

Other common installation problems involve resolution. You can check and change the resolution via terminal in the following way:

  1. Open the terminal and type xrandr this will show you all possible supported resolutions (This depends on your video card and monitor/tv). Take note on the order they appear listed. The first line that shows the resolution is line 1, the next one is 2 and so on for all resolutions supported. A value of 0 will reset the resolution to the default one after you actually set a resolution.

  2. Type xrandr -s X where X is the line number as mentioned above. So it would look something like: xrandr -s 1.

    Lastly for users that have reported not seeing the Unity Launcher/Panel after updating the Kernel and/or Nvidia version, the first thing to do is to check if the Unity Plugin is enabled. For this go to the Compiz Config Settings Manager (Am assuming it is already installed) and go to the Unity Plugin. Check to see that the checkbox for it is activated. If not then activate this option and follow the on-screen suggestions.

3. Tuning and Tweaking my video card

For Nvidia Video Cards follow this steps:

  1. In the terminal type: sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

  2. Find the device section and add the following line:

     Option "Coolbits" "4"
    

it should look something like this:

     Section "Device"
         Identifier     "Device0"
         Driver         "nvidia"
         VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
         Option         "Coolbits" "4"
     EndSection

Now save and reboot. You should now see (Depending on your video card model) a new option about Fan Speed like this:

![enter image description here][6]

A brief explanation of CoolBits:

CoolBits enables various unsupported features, such as support for GPU clock manipulation in the NV-CONTROL X extension. This option accepts a bit mask of features to enable. Which means a value of 0, 1, 2 or 4.

CoolBits = 1 - When "1" (Bit 0) is set in the "Coolbits" option value, the nvidia-settings utility will contain a page labeled "Clock Frequencies" through which clock settings can be manipulated. "Coolbits" is only available on GeForce FX and Above.

CoolBits = 2 - When "2" (Bit 1) is set it will attempt to initialize SLI when using GPUs with different amounts of video memory.

CoolBits = 4 - When "4" (Bit 2) is set the Thermal Monitor page will allow configuration of GPU fan speed, on graphics boards with programmable fan capability.

The default option is 0 (unsupported features are disabled).

As of Nvidia 337.XX the following options are available:

CoolBits = 8 - When "8" (Bit 3) is set the PowerMizer page in the nvidia-settings control panel will display a table that allows setting per-clock domain and per-performance level offsets to apply to clock values. This is allowed on certain GeForce GPUs in the GeForce GTX 400 series and later. Not all clock domains or performance levels may be modified.

CoolBits = 12 - When "12" (Bit 3 + 2) this will be the same as activating the effects of Coolbits 8 + Coolbits 4. So you will get the new overclocking features and the fan control.

enter image description here

This options can also be activated by issuing the following command:

   nvidia-xconfig --cool-bits=4

WARNING: this may cause system damage and void warranties.

I also want to add that the information for Proprietary drivers are typically saved in the home folder. For example the information saved by nvidia-settings is stored in ~/.nvidia-settings-rc which you can access by typing the following:

nano ~/.nvidia-settings-rc

I mention this because if the xorg.conf is not used, then how is the settings for Ati or Nvidia working. The reason is that X can automatically detect and configure many options of xorg.conf like input/output devices and Video cards. This did not happen automatically before, but since 2010, X can handle many options and detect them without any problems or the need to configure a file for them.

Note that, many of this are still present but divided into more specific files in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/

For example, some video cards do not show the Unity Launcher or top panel unless xorg.conf is present. In other cases, users that want to tweak their video card, may need the Coolbits option which is added to xorg.conf. This are the reasons why nvidia-xconfig exists. To provide an additional level of support in case X does not detect or offer all the options for the video card.

Another trick is to run update-pciids so it updates the PCI Id List. On very rare cases, the ID is not found or detected incorrectly for the video card (Actually any PCI device) so this will help solve any problem related to it.

In some cases it also helps to change the Texture Filter value to Fast in the OpenGL Plugin inside the Compiz Config Settings Manager.

Lastly, changing the Image Settings options to "High Performance" in the OpenGL Settings of the Nvidia Settings Panel can help in some cases.

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