Jaunty (Ubuntu 9.04) on Acer 4530 – nvidia drivers

Using the default recommended version of the nvidia drivers (180.44), I found that while running compiz-fusion and AWN my screen would hang every now and then for no reason. It would hang if I played around with the wobbly windows for too long or sometimes even if I just minimized firefox.

The only way to reproduce it seemed to be to use the j2ee version of eclipse ide 3.5 (Galileo) and click on Windows->Preferences. The screen would hang for sure and only way to fix it would be a hard reboot.

After a post on the compiz-fusion forums it looked like the problem was because of the driver I was using. Also, on the nvnews forums, I found this thread which showed that a lot of people were having trouble with the 180.* version of the nvidia drivers.

So, I installed envyng from synaptic and downgraded the drivers to the next recommended version i.e. 173.14.16 which made my browser fonts look like crap and slowed everything down. Atleast it stopped hanging, but I couldn’t bear the slow crawl of the display.

So, I finally bumped into this blog post which explained how to manually install the drivers on Ubuntu.

DISCLAIMER:

  1. I presume you are already using the nvidia drivers but are having frequent performance problems because of the &%#@ 180.* drivers. If you do, then you can use the existing xorg.conf with your new drivers and it’ll work just fine.
  2. I don’t know how to uninstall the drivers. I know the driver installer from nvidia has a –uninstall option, but I haven’t tried it. If you did and it worked for you, please leave a comment.

These are the steps I followed:

  1. Download the latest nvidia drivers. I downloaded NVIDIA-Linux-x86-185.18.31-pkg1.run from the nvidia site. It’s available under GeForce 9Mobile series and Linux x86.
  2. Install envyng-core from synaptic. The text version will be all you need.
  3. Go into console mode using Ctrl + Alt + F1. Before that copy all these steps into a file in your home directory so that you can read them when you’re in console mode. Before going to the next step if you need to get back into X, press Ctrl + Alt + F7.
  4. Login using your username and password
  5. kill gdm/kdm using sudo killall gdm or sudo killall kdm. You cannot uninstall/install drivers unless you kill X.
  6. Use envyng to uninstall the drivers: Type envyng -t and select uninstall drivers.
  7. Backup your existing xorg.conf using:
    sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf_good_backup
    I would highly recommend this step so that you don’t lose your good working xorg config. You will need it after you install the new drivers.
  8. cd to the location where you’ve downloaded the latest nvidia drivers.
  9. Give execute permission by typing:
    chmod +x NVIDIA-Linux-x86-185.18.31-pkg1.run (or whatever your version is)
  10. Run the drivers using:
    sudo ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86-185.18.31-pkg1.run (or whatever your version is)
  11. Follow instruction on the blue screen.
  12. After completing installation, copy your old good working configuration of xorg.conf using the following command:
    sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf_good_backup /etc/X11/xorg.conf
    This is assuming you already had the ubuntu recommended drivers installed before this. If you didn’t then you will probably need to do some poking around to get your xorg.conf working properly.
  13. Reboot and enjoy your new slick and better performing compiz-fusion!

After doing this, I downloaded the jee version of eclipse 3.5 and clicked on window->preferences and it worked fine! Looks like it’s working great!

It has only been a few hours since I installed it and haven’t seen any problems yet. If I do find anything, I’ll update this post.

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