I'm trying to get an NVIDIA 970M GPU working after something went wrong with the drivers. I've tried purging and manually wiping the system of everything nvidia/cuda related and reinstalled both from the ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa and from the NVIDIA installer.

Both approaches fail to get the system to use the NVIDIA GPU (as evidenced by nvidia-prime which I use to switch to the NVIDIA GPU, but after reboot it always returns to the onboard intel GPU).

  • What I'm trying to understand now is exactly what configuration in ubuntu is used to configure which graphics drivers are actually loaded?

  • How do I actually query the kernel to understand what drivers it thinks are available, and which drivers it is using?

  • Are there logs other than dmesg (with show nothing special) that I should be looking at to debug this?


> sudo lshw -C display
  *-display UNCLAIMED     
       description: 3D controller
       product: GM204M [GeForce GTX 970M]
       vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
       physical id: 0
       bus info: pci@0000:01:00.0
       version: a1
       width: 64 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pm msi pciexpress bus_master cap_list
       configuration: latency=0
       resources: memory:f5000000-f5ffffff memory:e0000000-efffffff memory:f0000000-f1ffffff ioport:e000(size=128) memory:f6000000-f607ffff
  *-display
       description: VGA compatible controller
       product: 4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller
       vendor: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 2
       bus info: pci@0000:00:02.0
       version: 06
       width: 64 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: msi pm vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
       configuration: driver=i915 latency=0
       resources: irq:29 memory:f6400000-f67fffff memory:d0000000-dfffffff ioport:f000(size=64)
  • 1
    There may be settings in UEFI that control default video. #What is installed dkms status Did you purge before installing another driver? sudo apt-get purge nvidia-* New driver does not totally erase an older driver, so you have conflicts and nothing works.askubuntu.com/questions/412452/… – oldfred Mar 30 at 22:31
  • Currently dkms status shows bbswitch, 0.8, 4.4.0-116-generic, x86_64: installed nvidia-390, 390.48, 4.4.0-116-generic, x86_64: installed I'll run it again to be sure it's clean after I try another purge. This looks correct based on what I just installed. – David Parks Mar 30 at 22:34
  • Do not know for sure, but thought bbswitch was what was used before nVidia Prime took over the switching process? – oldfred Mar 31 at 13:35
  • 1
    Please edit the output of sudo lshw -C display into your post. This will provide the graphics hardware and drivers in use. – Elder Geek Apr 13 at 19:17
  • Added as suggested. – David Parks Apr 13 at 20:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted
+50

Some log files you can view:

  • dmesg | grep -i nvidia
  • journalctl -b | grep -i nvidia
  • cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep -i nvidia
  • cat /var/log/nvidia-installer.log #......... Does not exist on my system.

You can also review Q&A's like these:

TL;DR - History of my GTX 970M

I have the same nVidia GTX 970M GPU on an Alienware 17R3 laptop with Skylake i7-6700HQ processor.

I found booting with a live USB the Nouveau graphics work OK and the Intel onboard GT2 HD 530 iGPU is not used.

Initially I installed with Ubuntu's System Settings, Additional Drivers, proprietary drivers version 384.

Much to my chagrin I discovered no sound from the HDMI port because Dell in it's infinite wisdom decided to power off the sound card aspect in the nVidia GTX 970M GPU. This led to lots of hacking into systemd to force sound on. It also probably led to my next problem.

Later I decided to try upgrading proprietary driver version 384 to 390. That was a big mistake because it totally broke the system. I went back to using Intel iGPU graphics instead.

Still later I tried using Nouveau drivers with somewhat limited success. So back to trusted old Intel i915 display driver again.

There are other problems getting screen tearing fixed in initial nVidia 384 driver which although time consuming I was rewarded with no more screen tearing. But the performance of the GTX 970M feel short of the Intel iGPU. For example resizing windows was slower and lagged on the screen.

No one has answered your questions:

  • What I'm trying to understand now is exactly what configuration in ubuntu is used to configure which graphics drivers are actually loaded?

  • How do I actually query the kernel to understand what drivers it thinks are available, and which drivers it is using?

  • Are there logs other than dmesg (with show nothing special) that I should be looking at to debug this?

So I thought I should throw in my 2-cents worth based on my experience--stick with the Intel iGPU to maintain your sanity. Currently I'm working on upgrading 16.04 to 18.04 and have done it 4 times on a test partition. I find the boot process much cleaner with Plymouth starting earlier and finishing later. I will get my nVidia working on a test clone and repeat the recloning process to get it working. This is highly preferable to mucking up my 16.04 LTS installation again!

  • Wow, thanks for this, this is very helpful and exactly what I was hoping for! I use the GPU for more than just graphics (scientific computing) and it's worked well in the past. But it was the upgrade from 384 to 390 that blew the config for me too. It's good to hear a related experience. I also experience the screen tearing, annoying, but eh. – David Parks May 5 at 19:03

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