Tuesday, 10 July 2012

HOWTO: nvidia-173 on Mint 13 (and Ubuntu 12.04 Precice)

I tried to install Mint 13 on an ancient PC with a Geforce 6200 graphics card. 

It didn't work. 

The symptom was that Cinnamon would be missing all panels and the window borders were missing. All that was visible on the desktop was the wallpaper and default icons.

It was possible to right-click the desktop and open a shell.

I then installed Mate desktop which worked, but was horribly slow.

I determined that the problem was with the nvidia-current driver, and that for the older 6200 adapter I needed to use the legacy nvidia 173 driver.

I couldn't install that due to an unresolvable dependency error. AAARGH!

I downloaded the binary from the nvidia website but that refused to build the kernel modules without providing any useful error feedback. AAAARGH again!

Eventually I found some clues on the 'net suggesting downgrading to the version of X from oneiric repository. 

This is how you do that.

Add this repository to your sources list file.

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ oneiric main

Edit your apt preferences file;

# vi /etc/apt/preferences

Add a section as follows;

Package: xorg xserver-xorg*
Pin: release a=oneiric
Pin-Priority: 1050

This will instruct your package manager to always use the oneiric repository for xorg and xserver* packages

Update your sources and do an upgrade;

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

Explicitly install the x server packages along with the nvidia-173 legacy package.
sudo apt-get install xorg xserver-xorg-input-all xserver-xorg-video-all nvidia-173 nvidia-settings

Update: If you take a look at which driver you using in the "Additional Drivers" utility it may report that "This driver is activated but not currently in use". This is an error in jockey which is not reporting the driver status properly.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I've been trying out Maya Cinnamon on a slightly older laptop with GeForce FX Go5200 graphics and have discovered that the Nouveau driver sucks big time on my card. With nvidia-173, Cinnamon still doesn't work well, but at least the Gnome classic environment does.

I did run into one small glitch, though: when I rebooted after downgrading Xorg, X failed to start. I discovered that somehow during the downgrade, /usr/bin/X got deleted. I fixed it by going to /usr/bin and typing "sudo ln -s Xorg X". Then I restarted MDM with "sudo service mdm restart". I'm now up and running with nvidia-173.

Anonymous said...

The current version of that nVidia driver, 173.14.36, works with the component in Xorg that prior versions of it did not. The .36 release actually works with version 1.13 of them, as well - which is (I think) the one used in Ubuntu 12.10 and Mint 14.

So you should be fine (now) installing the driver without jumping through hoops. Unless Ubuntu, after "breaking dependencies" by deciding to use a version of Xorg for which there was no driver available (lol), has provided some kind of "workaround" in the interim which will force systems containing the older graphics cards to use older versions of Xorg, IDK.

r233967 said...

The following simple steps worked for me for version 12.04.02 on March 19, 2013.

- Install 12.04.02 (DO NOT enable auto login).
- When the install finishes rebooting, you will be at the login screen (DO NOT LOGIN).
- CTRL-ALT-F1 to get to a command-line.
- login at the command prompt
- sudo apt-get install nvidia-173-updates (DO NOT INSTALL nvidia-173)
- reboot
- enjoy