64-bits of Karmic blackout or How to install the latest nVidia Ubuntu drivers in Kubuntu 9.10 without the pain

I’ve been having some problem recently with my AMD 64 Kubuntu PC where sometimes I would briefly get the login screen appear and then both displays would go black.

After pressing all keyboard combinations, there was only one option left but to press the Reset button on the PC! The problem with this problem is it continued to happen unless I booted Kubuntu into Recovery Mode, logged in and then did a manual startx to start X server. Then logout of X and reboot normally.

Such errors are very difficult to trouble-shoot let alone search for possible solutions, so I put up with it for a week and then decided to remove the login window as I’m the only person who uses this PC at home.

In the meantime, my Athlon 64 CPU upgrade arrived to replace my creaking single core 3000+ with a dual-core 4200. It was at this point the problem changed from being just a startup/ shutdown problem to a occasional reboot of X server midway during a session. Not friendly, so time to find a solution.

Two options came to mind:

1. Use the open source nVidea driver. Except it’s rubbish in a dual screen setup like mine.

2. Upgrade to the current certified nVidia driver (190.xx) from their website

Option two looked really attractive, until I discovered there was no Ubuntu deb package available from nVidia. After a quick search for Karmic package, I found http://www.webupd8.org/2009/08/how-to-install-nvidia-190xx-drivers-in.html.

So, this is what I did to upgrade my nVidia drivers:

  1. Uninstalled my current nVidia 180 drivers which shipped with Kubuntu 9.10, by clicking on K Menu > Applications > System > Hardware Drivers and Removing the NVIDIA accelerated graphics driver (version 180)
  2. Re-booted Kubuntu
  3. Enter sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nvidia-vdpau/ppa to add the new nVidia LaunchPad repository
  4. Then as per the sites instructions entered sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nvidia-190-modaliases nvidia-glx-190.

For those not to familiar with command line package management, the first part of the command before && checks for general updates and the second half after the && installs specific packages. It could also be entered as:

sudo apt-get update

I would then recommend sudo apt-get upgrade, to apply updates to any existing packages before adding new packages. When I entered the combined command, because I added a new repository in step 3, Kubuntu did find package updates and I had to cancel the package and install the updates, then repeat the package install again.

I would enter sudo apt-get install nvidia-190-modaliases nvidia-glx-190 to install the packages.

Finally, you have to go back into Hardware drivers (as in 1 above) and select the driver you want to install. Originally, I had intended to install the 190 driver, but saw that the 195 driver was the one recommended and tested by Ubuntu so installed that instead.

So far all has gone well, my dual screen setup is reconfigured, nothing has yet crashed (still early days) and I’m staying away from anything other than the default Compez settings until I’m confident that everything is stable.

As they say, “time will tell”!

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