I have a Full install USB flash drive.

I want the drive to work on most computers.

Is it OK to install Nvidia graphics drivers to suit my home computer.

  • 2
    If you don't mind booting in recovery mode on machines without the nvidia hardware. – ubfan1 Jul 29 '18 at 4:39
  • 1
    The classic and common advice is to avoid proprietary drivers (typically for graphics and wifi), if you want portability between most computers. But the linux kernel and the way drivers are selected might change with time. So I suggest that you test how it works with the current 18.04.1 LTS: Install an nvidia proprietary driver, that works in your home computer, and test the system in other computers. -- Finally, please share your result :-) – sudodus Jul 29 '18 at 5:30

Description of the test


I did some testing and the result was quite interesting.

I installed a basic Lubuntu 18.04.1 LTS 64-bit system in a Sandisk Extreme 16 GB in BIOS mode in an old computer from 2008 with built-in nvidia graphics. This computer has an M2N-VM DV motherboard, an Athlon-64-X2-4400+ CPU and a GeForce 7050 PV / nForce 630a graphics chip.

I know that in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS it needed nvidia proprietary graphics to work well, and that in recent versions it works well with the free linux driver 'nouveau'.

I tested the oldest two available proprietary drivers in 18.04.1 LTS as well as the newest available proprietary driver. None of them worked but the system defaulted to a VGA screen, 640x480.

So I stayed with the newest driver,

apt-cache policy nvidia-384
  Installerad: 390.48-0ubuntu3
  Kandidat:    390.48-0ubuntu3
 *** 390.48-0ubuntu3 500
        500 http://se.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic/restricted amd64 Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status

which is good for my Dell Precision M4800 laptop.

Tests in other computers

Then I shut down, and moved the USB pendrive to some computers with Intel graphics and one computer with Radeon graphics. An Intel driver and a radeon driver were seleced automatically for the graphics in those cases.


The proprietary nvidia graphics driver caused problems only in a computer with an nvidia chip, that does not work with that driver. Other kinds of graphics chips/cards work well.


I created small files when running in the different computers in order to keep record of the test data, for example

bash -c 'apt-cache policy nvidia-384;sudo lshw|head;sudo lshw -C display' > dell-m4800.txt

$ cat dell-m4800.txt 
  Installerad: 390.48-0ubuntu3
  Kandidat:    390.48-0ubuntu3
 *** 390.48-0ubuntu3 500
        500 http://se.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic/restricted amd64 Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
    beskrivning: Bärbar dator
    produkt: Precision M4800 (Precision M4800)
    tillverkare: Dell Inc.
    version: 01
    serienummer: 6KH5Q12
    bredd: 64 bits
    förmågor: smbios-2.7 dmi-2.7 smp vsyscall32
    konfiguration: boot=normal chassis=laptop sku=Precision M4800 uuid=44454C4C-4B00-1048-8035-B6C04F513132
       beskrivning: VGA compatible controller
       produkt: GK107GLM [Quadro K1100M]
       tillverkare: NVIDIA Corporation
       physical id: 0
       bus info: pci@0000:01:00.0
       version: a1
       bredd: 64 bits
       klocka: 33MHz
       förmågor: pm msi pciexpress vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
       konfiguration: driver=nvidia latency=0
       resurser: irq:32 memory:f4000000-f4ffffff memory:e0000000-efffffff memory:f0000000-f1ffffff ioport:e000(storlek=128) memory:f5000000-f507ffff
       beskrivning: VGA compatible controller
       produkt: 4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller
       tillverkare: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 2
       bus info: pci@0000:00:02.0
       version: 06
       bredd: 64 bits
       klocka: 33MHz
       förmågor: msi pm vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
       konfiguration: driver=i915 latency=0
       resurser: irq:29 memory:f5400000-f57fffff memory:d0000000-dfffffff ioport:f000(storlek=64) memory:c0000-dffff

You can see that this Dell can use the nvidia driver for the nvidia card and the intel i915 driver for the built-in graphics chip.

The corresponding results from all the tested computers can be extracted from the files via the following grep command line,

$ grep konfiguration *.txt|grep latency
dell-m4800.txt:       konfiguration: driver=nvidia latency=0
dell-m4800.txt:       konfiguration: driver=i915 latency=0
HP-Compaq-Pro-6305-SFF_AMD-A6-6400B-APU-w-Radeon.txt:       konfiguration: driver=radeon latency=0
lenovo-i3.txt:       konfiguration: driver=i915 latency=0
M2N-VM_DV_Athlon-64-X2-4400.txt:       konfiguration: latency=0
NUC6i3SYH-i5.txt:       konfiguration: driver=i915 latency=0
toshiba-i5.txt:       konfiguration: driver=i915 latency=0

You find no driver reported in the output for the computer with the M2N-VM DV motherboard and an old nvidia chip, that defaults to 640x480 VGA graphics with the proprietary driver. (In order to get good graphics in that computer, I must remove the proprietary driver, so that it can use the built-in nouveau driver and produce good graphics.)

  • 1
    Thanks @sudodus: Sorry for the trick question. I tried Nvidia drivers on a Full install flash drive, (based on mkusb disk structure). I was surprised that the Nvidia drivers did not get installed when plugging into a computer with Intel graphics. Back about pre 12.04 there was a app, (switch something), that would manually switch video drivers at boot. I think they changed x and messed things up. Maybe a automatic version got built into Ubuntu. – C.S.Cameron Jul 29 '18 at 17:07

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