Ubuntu 10.10 x86 and older nVidia graphics cards

A couple months back, I upgraded a friend’s computer via software update to Ubuntu 10.10. She had been happily running Ubuntu 10.04 on an old Pentium 4 box, with an equally vintage nVidia Quadro4 380 XGL installed in it. Accelerated 2D and 3D was no problem courtesy of nVidia’s legacy drivers.

Well, all that changed after the update, and post-update-reboot we had no window manager. It took close to an hour of fiddling around before I eventually read the small type in the release notes and realised that the nVidia legacy drivers for the Quadro4 380 were not compatible with the updated Xorg server in the Ubuntu 10.10 release.

You can read the whole saga here, but in short, the good news was we were saved at the time by two things; nVidia’s completely awesome effort in the updating of the driver for a vintage graphics card to work with the new Xorg, and the generosity of a community developer who packaged it into a PPA. It’s just a shame that Canonical didn’t place far more emphasis on warning users with older hardware that an OS update might make their system unusable!

Since then, the nVidia driver update has made it into the Ubuntu maverick-proposed repository, as I found out recently when installing Ubuntu 10.10 on another machine of similar vintage (this time with an nVidia Quadro4 550 XGL installed in it). So, only a simple tick-box needs to be checked for the driver to be downloaded and installed automatically:

Ubuntu 10.10 - enable the proposed repository

After doing this, run a software update, and install both the “nvidia-96” legacy driver, plus a couple of additional updates, such that it is handled by the GNOME hardware driver installation utility:

Ubuntu 10.10 software update - install nVidia drivers and utilities

Ubuntu 10.10 software update - install nVidia drivers and utilities

After updating, run the GNOME “Hardware Drivers” utility (“System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers”), and install the driver visible there:

Ubuntu 10.10 Hardware Drivers utility

After a restart, accelerated graphics are back in Ubuntu 10.10. A note of thanks to nVidia – it’s stuff like this that makes me want to buy your products! 🙂


5 thoughts on “Ubuntu 10.10 x86 and older nVidia graphics cards

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Ubuntu 10.10 x86 and older nVidia graphics cards « Dave Koelmeyer -- Topsy.com

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  3. Aaron


    Thank you so much for your post. IT WORKS. I have been losing faith in Ubuntu, struggling with this issue for a couple of weeks. I have an nvidia fx5200 AGP 8x card, and have tried the ‘nomodeset’ and other commands with no luck until now. My display is working perfectly again, with no more black, white or garbled screens. Only difference is that in “System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers” I installed the ‘173 nvidia driver’ with perfect results. I can only hope other users can benefit from your information.

    Thanks again!

  4. Fadıl

    i have Nvidia GT540 M in samsung laptop and
    i am using Ubuntu 10.04 (lucid).
    i have found this driver
    downloaded and loaded but it doesnt work.
    i am thinking i spend too much time for 3D but i couldnt do it.
    whatever i try Nvidia drivers dont come to System->Administriation->Hardware drivers
    anybody have a idea?
    and also i have tried that method(in this site) yeah i know its for 10.10 should i upgrade it 10.10? pls help!


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