Resolving nvidia card display issue on Ubuntu

Today I purchased a HP Pavilion p6130y desktop as my main development workstation at home. I pulled the Intel X-25M SSD out of my laptop, and put it into this new box as the primary disk, and loaded Ubuntu 9.04 64-bit on it. So far, I am impressed. Things are fast and the machine is also quite.

However, I did notice a display problem. Out of the box, the default resolution was perhaps 1024×768, certainly below 1920×1080 that this Dell display can handle. So I went to System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers to get the latest nvidia driver, because nvidia graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce 9100 GS) comes with this HP on the motherboard. It looked nice initially, but whenever I try to maximize a window, the system would freeze, forcing me to shut down the machine ungracefully by holding down the power button. Opening Firefox would cause the same thing, because my Firefox window opens in full / maximized mode.

I then spent the next few hours trying to figure this out. I opened the display setting window and tweaked the values here and there, hoping that would resolve the issue. I also uninstalled and reinstalled the driver a few more times. I ened up rebooting this machine so many times that I lost count.

Then it occured to me that instead of googling and scaning information that looked pretty irrelevant to my issue, I should try nvidia’s site directly. Sure enough, I could download Linux 64-bit display driver on its site! The download file was a .run file. I followed directions here, but the driver wouldn’t install because X is already running. So I booted into recovery mode, ignored the “telinit 3” (which starts X) prompt, and just followed the directions in the terminal. The process tried to download some kernel files without success, so it compiled. One step also asked for 32-bit compatibility, which I answered “yes”, whether that step was successful was not confirmed. After the driver was successfully installed, I ran “telinit 3” and the display issue went away.

Hope this helps somebody out there.

Update: to install the same driver on Fedora 11, get into the screen where you can edit grub loader entry, press a, space key, 3, then enter. That will start Fedora without X running. Then run “sh”, follow instruction on screen and you will be good to go.

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