Installing nVidia drivers

It's been a while since I've actually worked with a 3D accelerated graphics card on any Ubuntu system. For a number of reasons, I finally decided to go out and get one. My choice ultimately fell on a card using the GeForce 9400GT, with 1GB of memory. I had the store technician install it for me, and we tested it briefly and it worked okay.

Next question was: how to install the driver?

What I suppose is the recommended solution is to use the Hardware Drivers application of Ubuntu. This is available from System->Administration->Hardware Drivers. This brings up the window:

Unfortunately, this approach has almost always never worked for me the past few times I tried it. When I click on "Activate", it brings up another window to tell me that it's downloading the driver from some repository. It never actually does.

So instead, I just went to the nVidia driver download page. It was helpful enough to give me the options I needed for my card.

The driver came in the form of a 21MB self-extracting file The site provides additional instructions to run the program.

Unfortunately, these instructions are not complete. When installing this driver from a stock Ubuntu installation, the installation process -- text-based by the way -- will complain that you have an X server running, and that you need to turn this off.

I got around this problem by going into console mode (press Ctrl-Alt-F1), logging in, and shutting down the Gnome Display Manager.

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm shutdown

Then, I once more ran the nVidia driver installer.

The installer will attempt to find a kernel module suitable for Ubuntu but it will fail. Its next recourse is to recompile the module, and this it managed to do without any more hitches.

From here on, you won't be able to modify the display settings using the Ubuntu utility. You'll have to use the nVidia utility, accessible from System->Preferences->nVidia X Server Settings. Clicking this will bring up the utility.

Other than bringing it up, I really didn't make any modifications anymore. My system is working so far, and I'm getting a resolution of 1440x900. (Until you install the driver, you're stuck at 800x600). My glxgears test gives me a result of around 4900 fps, which is the highest I've ever seen on any of my machines.

Here's hoping the card will give me many years of gaming goodness.