By default Ubuntu will use the open source video driver Nouveau for your NVIDIA graphics card. This driver lacks support for 3D acceleration and may not work with the very latest video cards or technologies from NVIDIA.

An alternative to Nouveau are the closed source unified NVIDIA drivers, which are developed by NVIDIA. This driver provides excellent 3D acceleration and video card support.

NVIDIA drivers provided by the Ubuntu repositories

What package one would use depends on the version of Ubuntu one is using, and what graphics card one has installed.


Usually you will see a notification and/or an icon in the top panel, reminding you that restricted drivers are available.


By clicking the icon you will be taken to a dialog where you can choose which version you want to install, choose the recommended driver.


If you are using an older version of Ubuntu, or if you aren't notified about additional drivers, you can launch the installation yourself.

  • Go to System -> Administration -> Additional Drivers

  • Once the drivers are downloaded and installed, reboot your computer.

Note: In older version of Ubuntu, Additional Drivers are called Hardware Drivers.

Note: In older version of Ubuntu, newer graphic adapters may not be supported with the repositories provided driver.

Note: In newer version of Ubuntu, older graphic adapters may not be supported with the repositories provided driver.

Removing Nouveau (advanced/expert users)

Nouveau, an open source driver, is installed by default. It's possible to remove it completely, but it is not necessary and therefore not recommended.

If you still desire to remove it, you can do so by entering the following command in a terminal:

sudo apt-get --purge remove xserver-xorg-video-nouveau

Installation without X / from the console

If you need to change drivers without the use of the X GUI, perhaps because those drivers are not installed, you can with the jockey-text command. For example:

jockey-text --help
jockey-text -l
jockey-text -e xorg:nvidia_current


Installation Fails

  • If the restricted driver remains unactivated after attempting to activate it in the Additional Drivers dialog, you may not have the appropriate linux headers installed to compile the driver. Ensure that the linux-headers-XXX and linux-restricted-modules-XXX packages are installed, where XXX matches the version of the kernel you are using.

  • If the activation hangs on download/install dialog, you can install the driver using System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager, make sure you pick the latest driver version recommended by the Additional Drivers tool and all its dependencies. Then go to the Additional Drivers tool and activate the driver you just installed.

Driver Not Active

  • X has not been configured to use the new driver. Open a terminal, run sudo nvidia-xconfig, and restart X (reboot works).

Boot Splash Screen Issues

  • Open up a Terminal and install the Startup-Manager:

sudo apt-get install startupmanager 
  • Launch the Startup Manager from System -> Administration -> Startup-Manager.

  • In the Boot options tab, change the resolution to something your monitor can handle (1024x768 is usually enough for the boot screen to look nice).

  • Change the color depth to 24 bits and press the Close button, reboot your system.

Can't Save Settings

nvidia-settings can't write to xorg.conf if it hasn't been started with administration privileges. Make sure you start nvidia-settings with the following command:

gksudo nvidia-settings


If you use an old NVIDIA driver, hibernation & suspend may not work, there is a workaround however.

  • We need to edit xorg.conf, open a terminal and enter the following command:

gksudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf
  • In the section called Section "Device" add Option "NvAGP" "1", you should end up with something like this:

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "my id"
    Driver         "my dr"
    VendorName     "my vendor"
    BoardName      "my board name"
    Option         "NvAGP" "1"
  • Blacklist the intel_agp module from being loaded by the kernel. This is done by editing blacklist.conf, open a terminal and type:

gksudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

Then add the following line:

blacklist intel_agp

Reboot your system.

OnBoard Graphics Chipset

Low/Missing Screen Resolutions

Often screen resolutions on offer are far lower than those offered with the open source driver. The NVIDIA binary driver seems to be very weak at reliably probing this information from the monitor and relies on additional information in xorg.conf.

To fix this you can add more resolutions by entering the following in a terminal:

xrandr --addmode S-video ...

Replace the dots with the desired resolution. For further details and potential workarounds see X config resolutions.

Low Resolution Icons and OS Features

If you have problems with low resolution icons, shortcuts and menus placed strangely, and especially desktop size not matching your monitor, this may be due to a bug with multiple monitor setup. If you've previously setup a second monitor and have it plugged in but not turned on, Ubuntu/Xubuntu may be counfounded by this. The simplest method to resolve this is to remove the redundant cable from your machine and reboot. Additionally, install arandr (GUI for xrandr editing) and setup two profiles, one with the secondary monitor and one without. Removal of redundant cable when not in use is nonetheless still recommended. (this problem experienced in Ubuntu then Xubuntu. May affect other variants)

Screen Blanks/Monitor Turns Off

Using a laptop with a GeForce Go card, or connecting the sole display via DVI on a dual-head system sometimes results in the screen not receiving a picture. This is caused by the driver outputting video to the VGA port on the graphics card, instead of DVI.

The usual hint that you have this problem is when you hear the startup sound but nothing appears on the screen. If you do not hear any sound, you are more than likely experiencing unrelated problems.

This is a bug about displays on digital outputs being blank when using NVIDIA driver, and can be resolved by editing your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file:

  • Switch to the console by using ctrl+alt+F1, or reboot and select recovery mode from the GRUB menu.

  • Open and edit xorg.conf like this: sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf.

  • Find the line that says: Section "Screen"

  • Insert a new line that says Option "UseDisplayDevice" "DFP".

  • Save the file. If you had to restart into recovery mode, type reboot, otherwise restart your display using sudo /etc/init.d/gdm restart.

Problems with Video Playback

If you have problems with video playback in e.g. mplayer, gxine, or mythtv frontend with a legacy card, it may be due to too high a color depth (e.g. using NT6 Vanta/Vanta LT "nvidia" driver, I experienced flickering vertical bars & blue screen flashing). To fix this, manually edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and change DefaultDepth to 16.

See Also

CategoryHardware CategoryX CategoryXwindowSystem CategoryVideo

BinaryDriverHowto/Nvidia (last edited 2014-01-03 01:18:25 by penalvch)