Monday, April 8, 2013

Adventures in Ubuntu Land

Maybe "Misfortunes in Ubuntu Land" is a more accurate title. I guess it all depends on attitude.

Recently, I attempted to update the graphics driver on my ubuntu machine. There were several good reasons to undertake such a task.
  • I recently installed the steam client and was hoping to get as much performance out of my GTX560Ti. 
  • Along those same lines, I've been doing some basic development with jMonkey on a different machine and wanted to see how it runs on my ubuntu box.
  • I tried using VLC to create desktop videos on ubuntu. VLC appears to be recording and saves a file, but when I try to watch it: wham! 'unknown file encoding' error. I was hoping that perhaps a video card driver update might miraculously solve that issue as well.
  • YouTube video quality seems sub par when watching on my ubuntu box and I thought a video driver update might also prove to be beneficial in that regard.
Despite all these fantastic reasons for running on the latest and greatest nvidia driver for my card, I was thwarted in my attempts. Here's what I tried. It wasn't terribly tricky, but notwithstanding, mah machine got borked!

System Settings -> Software Sourcess -> Additional Drivers (tab)

I picked the top most option (since 'tested' seemed like a safe bet). After selecting the new driver and clicking apply changes, nothing seemed to be visibly different, so I rebooted.

Upon login, I noticed both task bars (left and top) were no longer present (although my two desktop icons still showed). Ctrl-Alt-t brought up a terminal, from which I launched chrome, intent on searching the internet for some clues.  As soon as Chrome came up, the gui manager (unity?gnome?) took a turn for the worse, and my keyboard input no longer functioned in either the browser or the terminal. Help!

Luckily, Ctrl-Alt-F1 still dropped me into the gui-less console where I was able to run the following command:
 sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current
Once the prompt promptly returned, a command line reboot brought me back up happy as can be, back from the dead. I plan to attempt the driver reinstall again at some point in the future, but after I've done some more thorough research on the matter. Until then, we'll just keep things nice and vanilla.

revert an nvidia driver     revert from ctrl-alt-f1

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