Installing Proprietary Video Drivers

Ubuntu does not provide the official Nvidia or ATI display drivers because they are closed source and Ubuntu is committed to delivering a totally free (as in speech) distribution. The latest official drivers can be downloaded from http://www.nvidia.com/object/linux.html or from http://www.ati.com/. If you encounter problems with the Nvidia drivers in particular, check out http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=14 for more help. The Nvidia staff do contribute to that forum, so you should be able to find expert help when you need it.

Bear in mind that if you go down the "official" route, there will be certain steps that you have to take.

A much easier way to is to install either the Nvidia or ATI driver using synaptic or apt. Whichever way you choose, you need to have the Multiverse repositories available because both of these are proprietary extensions. For Nvidia, you need to look for the nvidia-gix package; ATI uses the xorg-driver-fglrx package.

If you have installed the nvidia-gix package, you need to run the nvidia-xconfig to activate the driver in your xorg.conf file, as follows:

$ sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf-backup $ sudo nvidia-xconfig

After you have done this, log out of your session and back in again, which forces X to use the new xorg.conf and gives you a fully 3D enabled desktop.

If you went down the ATI route, you have a couple of extra steps to get through. The driver supplied with Ubuntu was developed by X.org, not ATI themselves. Although this driver should work in the majority of cases, you may need to download the official ATI drivers and do a bit of compiling to get them working.

First run these commands:

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get install build-essential module-assistant\ fakeroor dh-make debconf libstdc++5 gcc-3.3-base

These commands download the files that you will need to extract the correct packages from the official driver. Retrieve the driver from ATI and then execute the following commands to generate the package files ready for installation:

$ sudo chmod +x ati-driver-installer*.run $ ./ati-driver-installer-*.run --buildpkg Ubuntu/dapper

After about a minute or so, the process should complete, and you should have a number of deb packages in your current directory. Install them using these commands:

$ sudo dpkg -i xorg-driver-fglrx_8*.deb $ sudo dpkg -i fglrx-kernel-source_8*.deb $ sudo dpkg -i fglrx-control_8*.deb

Almost there! The next step is to build the kernel module to make everything work. Run the following commands:

$ sudo module-assistant prepare,update $ sudo module-assistant build,install fglrx $ sudo depmod -a

The final step is to change a line in the xorg.conf file. First copy it to a safe place using the command cp /etc/xii/xorg.conf /etc/xii/xorg.conf_backup. Open the original as root in your favorite editor and look for the line in the Device section that starts with Driver. Change ati (the default entry) to fglrx and save it.

The last thing to do is to restart X by logging out and back in again, at which point you should now have the ATI drivers installed. You can check this by using the fglrxinfo command at a command line. You should see output similar to this:

$ fglrxinfo display: :0.0 screen: 0

OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc. OpenGL renderer string: RADEON 9 60 0 XT Generic OpenGL version string: 2.0.5814 (8.25.18)

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