June 8th, 2002, 04:02 PM
nVidia drivers tutorial
If any of you out there have a high end nVidia video card and are running linux, you may not be geting the most out of your video card. I recently went out and bought a new video card with an nVidia GeForce4 chip in it, and was saddened to find that I still couldn't play tux racer on it. So I did some research. The nVidia web site was very helpful and provided the basis for most of the material that I'm including. I'm simply consolidating and interpreting the material and adding my own insights to make it a little easier for everyone else. The main problem I had was that nVidia didn't have a download available for my particular version of the kernel, so I thought I'd share how I got it to work.
nVidia's README can be found at:
For my purposes I needed to download the glx driver and the source rpm for the kernel driver. These direct links should help the rest of you...
GLX RPM for most linux distros (Excluding SuSE):
Source RPM for the kernel driver:
There are always dependencies of course (listed in the README file), but the main dependency is an XFree version of at least 4.0.1, which should be fairly easy to satisfy.
Then I moved to the directory where I had downloaded the files. Since nVidia didn't have the correct kernel version for my system, I had to rebuild the rpm from the source rpm with the command:
rpm --rebuild NVIDIA_kernel.src.rpm
For some reason this didn't seem to work. It kept giving me errors that didn't really tell me what was wrong. After doing some searches on Google, I eventually found out that you have to have the rpm-build package installed. Well, I had no idea such a thing even existed, but once I installed it, the rebuild command worked beautifully.
Unfortunately, the rebuild command didn't put the newly created RPM in my current directory, so I had to go find it. I eventualy found it at:
Then I simply copied the rpm back into the directory with the GLX rpm and installed them both:
rpm -Uvh NVIDIA*.i386.rpm
Both packages installed cleanly, though the packages did tell me that they were replacing a few files and told me where they copied the originals too. It didn't seem very important, so I moved on. I haven't ever had any problems with my video drivers since then, so I guess it was ok.
The next step was to edit my XF86 config file to tell it to use the new drivers.The file I had to edit was "/etc/X11/XF86Config-4" but the readme said that if this file didn't exist then the file to edit was "/etc/X11/XF86Config". Since I was using the nv driver that comes with linux, all I had to do was search for the text "nv" and change it to "nvidia" so that it would point to the proprietary drivers. Then, following the documentation, I went to the Module section and made sure that there was a line that said 'Load "glx"' and removed the lines that said 'Load "dri"' and 'Load "GLcore"'
Then I started X to check my work and it worked beautifully. Since then, I've come across a couple interesting things that you need to note:
1. You will be forced to look at the nVidia logo for about two seconds every time you start X. Who cares? Not me, but some people might.
2. You must be willing to taint your kernel. For example, if you do an lsmod after loading the nvidia kernel, you'll notice "Tainted: P" because the kernel has been tainted by a proprietary driver. If you care about using only open source drivers, then these drivers are not for you. I personally don't care about taining the kernel, I just found it unusual.
3. You must be willing to put up with graphics speeds that are a lot faster than the speeds you would get from the drivers that come with linux. I tend to think that this is the easiest part to hande.
I hope this helps the rest of you get the most out of your NVidia card. Have fun playing tuxracer or whatever else you find enjoyable. If any one knows of any other great graphically intensive games in linux, let me hear about them. On second thought, maybe you shouldn't. Tux racer is just way too addictive and I don't know if I have time for more games. Anyway, best of luck to you...
June 8th, 2002, 04:26 PM
sweet, I have a GF3 card running Mandrake, I'll try it out when I get that computer working (stupid Asus a7v266-e(!) gave out on me...) thanks though.
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June 11th, 2002, 09:23 AM
Good tutorial - and nice to see someone else advertising their work in their signature! I wonder where you got that from? lol
Keep it up str34m3r!
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Sir Winston Churchill.