Sunday, November 4

Setting up video drivers (nVidia 8600M GT)

nVidia Logo

Update 2/25/08: Udi has again brought to my attention that there is a fix to force the nVidia 169.09 to work with the 8600GT. An entire thread has been dedicated to the topic here. I have not personally tested this method, but when I do I will write a new post on how to update to the newest driver.

Update: It has been brought to my attention by Udi that the nVidia 169.09 linux driver has trouble displaying images on Dell laptops. Make sure that you use the older, more stable 100.14.19 driver.

One of the first problems I ran into after the initial install was the video. I hadn't installed xserver yet so I grabbed it from the debian repositories (note: Make sure you disable your cd repositories if you used a net install cd):

> sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg

For a temporary fix to get the video running immediately (I wanted to check other issues such as bluetooth and wifi), I configured the driver to use 'vesa' (note: You do not need to use the 'vesa' drivers. You can install the kernel headers from bash and wget the binary nVidia drivers. Again, I did this because I wanted to test other things on the system before I started messing around with video drivers). While vesa is great because of its compatibility, it offers no hardware acceleration. Now I had to reconfigure the xorg.conf with the settings I wanted:

>dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

To change to vesa, I switched my driver from 'nv' to 'vesa'. All of the other options work on default. To get gnome to restart, I commanded:

> sudo/etc/init.d/gdm restart

Vesa works (at 1024x768), but again, it does not provide any sort of graphics acceleration or crisp visuals I would expect from a high end video there. After fiddling around with GUI, I decided the binary nVidia drivers were probably the best way to go (You can download it here). The only other dependency I needed to get my nVidia drivers working were the kernel headers. To check my kernel version, I typed:

> uname -a

It then spat out:

> Linux goz 2.6.22-2-686 #1 SMP Wed Oct 3 00:12:50 UTC 2007 i686 GNU/Linux

Now I had to grab the kernel headers for my kernel from the repositories. I prompty entered:

> sudo apt-get install linux-headers-2.6.22-2-686

Now I navigated to folder that nVidia drivers are in and typed:

> sh

After promising I would not sue them for destroying my computer with their drivers, the drivers compiled against my kernel. Now I needed to reconfigure the xorg.conf to work with the nVidia drivers. I went back to a clean shell with ctrl+alt+f1, logged in and typed:

> sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

Now with working nVidia drivers, I changed the 'vesa' driver to 'nvidia' . I made sure all options were on default and when I was prompted for screen resolutions, I checked '1200x800'. Finally, I restarted gdm:

> sudo /etc/init.d/gdm restart

The nice nVidia logo popped up (It is possible to turn this off from nvidia-settings) and I was off to use gnome with hardware accelerated 1280x800 resolution.


Emmanuel said...

Hey this tutorial is great, my problem is... I had to unninstall all existing drivers before, and i also had to unninstal the linux-restricted-modules wich were installed with the Ubuntu installation, after I did that my wireless card stopped working :(..

JayT said...

That could be from a variety of problems. You may want to try and reinstall the drivers for your wireless card.

If you want some specific help you are going to need to leave some more specific information (e.g. Distro, Wireless Card, etc).

Udi said...

Hi, great blog, it really helps a lot! But I have a problem with my driver. I've got a Vostro 1500n, with an nVidia 8400 GS card, and after compiling it against my Debian kernel it gives just a white screen, with a stripe fading grey and black. I've used the 169.09 driver not the one that is written here, could this be the problem?

JayT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JayT said...

I have heard the newer nvidia driver has been prone to breaking things in Wine, but not in general. When you recompiled your kernel, did you remove some specific video modes in the configuration?

Also, you may want to try the built in nvidia driver or the vesa driver just to confirm that it's the driver that is broken and not your video card. However, from what you said it sounds like the driver is buggy or there is some kind of hardware conflict.

Udi said...

Yes, it seems that the newer driver doesn't work on Dell notebooks. I've tried the previous driver and it works like charm. So use the 100.14.19 version instead of the 169.09.

JayT said...

Great. I'm glad you fixed it. I'll make a note of it in the blog post.

Udi said...

In this forum topic there is a solution for the 169.09 driver on Dell laptops issue. You have to save the edid.bin file with the previous driver, install the newer, modify the xorg.conf, and there you are with a working updated driver ;).

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