Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.
Edited, Nov. 12, 2008: The updated modaliases package for 8.10 allows me to move from the default nv driver to the restricted driver without compiling anything; it’s possible that by updating your system and installing that package you can avoid the steps below. I still have to add the “UseDisplayDevice” option to xorg.conf, but that’s not Ubuntu’s fault, and as far as I know it’s only specific to laptops that use the 440 or 420 cards. Have fun!
All right. I appreciate that there are great minds at work on these things — the Nvidia drivers and the Ubuntu distribution — but to leave me stranded in no-accelerated-graphics land was downright cold. That’s not neighborly.
So, with a little creativity, a beta driver and a borrowed post from a long time ago, I can tell you fellow 96xx-ers how to build the proprietary driver for your beloved video card, and avoid waiting a long six months for the next round of software releases. And avoid buying a new graphics card, which I would not condone under any circumstances.
First, drop out of any X environment you might be running, and stop that doggone GDM too. Press CTRL+ALT+F2, then
sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop
Next, uninstall anything you might have tried thus far. That means the old nvidia-glx-96 driver or anything related, as well as the restricted modules for your system.
sudo aptitude remove --purge linux-restricted-modules-generic nvidia-glx-96
You might be prompted to remove linux-generic or something like that too; it’s okay, take it out. Now install the toolchain, the generic headers, pkgconfig and the development files for xserver-xorg-dev.
sudo aptitude install -y --without-recommends build-essential linux-headers-generic pkg-config xserver-xorg-dev
Now download the full driver — the larger of the available files — from the Nvidia web site. Save and make executable with this command.
chmod +x NVIDIA-Linux-x86-96.43.09-pkg1.run
Finally, tell it to build, and not to annoy.
sudo ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86-96.43.09-pkg1.run -aqsN
If you get errors, rerun it in the interactive mode so you can troubleshoot it. Now in case you don’t have an xorg.conf file,
sudo touch /etc/X11/xorg.conf
You might already; I had one but it was a 0kb file. Here’s the magic.
sudo nvidia-xconfig --add-argb-glx-visuals --allow-glx-with-composite --composite -d 24 --no-logo --render-accel
That’s for my 440 Go and probably for the 420 too; others should adjust that as required. (My 440 still needs the “UseDisplayDevice” “DFP” option added though.) Finally, reboot, and you should get …
Ta-da. And an obligatory tip of the hat to both camps — the Nvidia driver authors and the crew behind Ubuntu — just for making it all work, even if some assembly is required.
My display automatically snapped to the accelerated desktop as soon as I rebooted. And remember that you’ll probably have to repeat this process with kernel updates, but it’s a small price to pay for the spinning cube on an 8-year-old computer.