Ubuntu and NVidia

NVidia graphics cards have been very reliable in Linux, at least on my experience. I usually use proprietary drivers since they offer good 3D performance and they have very easy to install. In Ubuntu you can use an easy-to-use Jockey tool (Additional Drivers under System – Administration) to install these driver. So far there has not been any problems

However, quite recently there was a problem. And a huge one. After installing the proprietary drivers and rebooting the system just hanged up. Blank screen, nothing works. In my case I have GeForce GT 330M, i7 quadcore processor, 8 GB memory and then… all I get is 2D graphics with Nouveau drivers.

And Nouveau was actually part of the problem. It is nowadays “fused” into the stock Ubuntu, and it just cannot co-exist with NVidia drivers. Sometimes they might, but this depends on hardware, chipsets, graphic card etc. So Nouveau had to be blacklisted to prevent it from loading during boot up. That is quite simple process, just put a file named nvidia-installer-disable-nouveau.conf into /etc/modprobe.d/ which has following lines:

blacklist nouveau
options nouveau modeset=0

But this was not enough. You should not use Additional Drivers -tool to install NVidia drivers since the drivers it will install are too old, and they may not work at all (depends on hardware). In my case the solution was the most recent 64 bit driver NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-260.19.44 from NVidia www-site.

NOTE! I have tried this solution only on 64 bit Linux. I do not know if this solves any problem on 32 bit Linux! There is separate 32 bit Linux driver package available on NVidia site.

If you happen to have installed older NVidia drivers already, then you have to uninstall them first. If you used Jockey to install them, then you can uninstall them with that too. Just go to System – Administration – Additional Drivers, and deactivate NVidia driver. But if you installed them using some other method, then you have to uninstall them from command line (depends on how you installed it). When you have uninstalled NVidia, then you can proceed with new drivers.

It has to be installed from command line without X running. Just reboot into failsafe mode (press shift during power up and then choose failsafe) without graphics (meaning, root prompt). When you have root prompt you have to bring your system to init level 3 with

telinit 3

Then go into the directory where you downloaded NVidia driver and run

sudo sh ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-260.19.44.run

Follow the on-screen instructions and menus, and vóila… you have working NVidia drivers. Then just reboot normally and enjoy.

Not to mention better 2D and 3D performance, I noticed that boot up procedure was much quicker, also. With Nouveau drivers boot up took lo-o-o-ng time. And at least in my case, Nouveau proved to be unreliable. If whole system crashes twice during same day under normal use, it is not suitable for productive work. Besides, it also seemed to affect audio system. While I was using Nouvaeau drivers there were noticeable sound distortions (extra noise etc.) while playing music. With NVidia drivers sound is clear.


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