Getting the Nvidia distribution drivers installed with Ubuntu 14.10 and possibly later

So do to the fact that my HTPC died, and I didn’t want to restore the OS from a backup, I opted instead to install a fresh (and reasonably modern) version of Kubuntu. Once installed I quickly ran into problems with the binary video driver installation. Yes, yes, I realize that I could simply instruct Kubuntu (or Ubuntu) to utilize the Canonical tracked binary drivers, however they’re always generally behind quiet a few versions, and for this system I like running the bleeding edge.

So my adventure in Nvidia driver installation begins yet again, a road I’ve been down many times…

Assuming you’ve downloaded the latest binary driver from Nvidia and try to install it you’ll immediately run into problems with the binary installer complaining that:

  • X windows is still running
  • The Nouveau module is loaded
  • The compiler can’t be found
  • 32bit libraries are missing (assuming you’re running 64bit OS like I am)

By far the most frustrating of these is Nouveau. Listen I’m all for open software, however the reality is that Nouveau is a poor substitute for the real deal from Nvidia. Would it be great if Nvidia open sourced their driver? Hell yes, however since they’re not willing to I’m stick using it in a binary format… Anyways, below are the steps I’ve used (recently) to achieve success in installing this driver:

  • Obtain the latest driver from Nvidia
  • Remove the packages xserver-xorg-video-nouveau and xserver-xorg-video-all
sudo dpkg -r xserver-xorg-video-nouveau xserver-xorg-video-all
  • Install the linux-headers package matching your kernel and the dkms package
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` dkms
  • Install GCC and make packages
sudo apt-get install gcc make
  • Install 32bit OpenGL libraries (if you’re running 64bit OS)
apt-get install libgl1-mesa-dri:i386 libgl1-mesa-glx:i386
  • Modify your GRUB configuration to set nomodeset on boot
  • edit: /etc/default/grub and find the line starting with: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT. This usually this looks like:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"
  • Add nomodeset to it:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash nomodeset"
  • Save the file and run update-grub
sudo update-grub
  • Reboot

Once rebooted make sure that X windows is shutdown. Usually if X is running on boot in Kubuntu or Ubuntu environments, it’s due to kdm, gdm, or lightdm

sudo stop lightdm

After that, try and run the nvidia binary driver installer and allow it to install the drivers. Hopefully all will go smoothly and your system will be ready to go. Once complete you can simply restart X windows:

sudo start lightdm

Good luck, and if you have problems feel free to let me know in the comments section!

My HTPC finally died…

So over the last few years I’ve been a very simple HTPC setup. It consisted of an Intel E4500, 4GB ram system with a GTX 780 Nvidia card running Kubuntu Linux 12.04.

For storage I booted off a simple USB stick, after 3 years I’ve killed 5 USB sticks with constant writes, caching, swapping etc. Clearly not an ideal environment for a USB stick to operate in but hey, who cares they’re cheap and easy to backup / restore.

That said, this last time around I decided that it was time to upgrade, and I happen to have some spare parts laying around, including a spare case, so that’s exactly what I did.

New system is still running Kubuntu, however upgraded to 14.10, I salvaged the video card and the 4GB of ram, and added another 4GB of ram with new motherboard and E8500 CPU. Additionally the new case and better (and quieter) cooling as well as more room, and of course, the major bonus, I tossed an SSD in for the system disk.

I’ve thought about running Kodi on this system for a while but haven’t had much time to configure it, I did leave myself plenty of room on the SSD for additional operating system partitions in the future.

My little cluster…

So recently I’ve put together a test cluster for testing Lustre (www.lustre.org), which is a file system technology that I work directly on in my day job.  The cluster is a bit interesting as it’s a 5 node, dual E5540, DDR IB system.

In general it works well, however it really burns power so lately it’s not been on all the time.

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