Mar 312012

A few weeks ago, I tossed Mint on an old machine to give it a try. Looking for something to replace my Ubuntu 10.04, and I’m not a fan of Unity at all. Mint, with its extensions to Gnome 3, seem to give the best of the new paradigm without changing everything I like about the old.

So last night I backup up my computer, and began the reinstall. I had issues even booting the Live DVD on my main computer. After some internet searching I resolved this by:

  • Pressing e at the bootup screen
  • Adding nomodeset to the configuration line before the —

I was then able to boot, and install the OS. This didn’t surprise me, as I’ve had to do similar tricks over the years to install OSes. Normally when everything is installed, we are good to go.

Oh boy, not this time. So after the install and reboot, I could not get X to load. Using the same trick as above, I was able to get into a GUI, but video performance was lack luster as no drivers were loaded. I attempted to install the restricted drivers, but they would install, and then on reboot, I’d have nothing again. I have noticed similar problems on other computers I have which have NVIDIA cards and AMD cpus. I was determined to find a fix this time. Instead of using the drivers from the repos, or the open source nouveau driver, I decided to go straight to the source, and download the driver from NVIDIA. You can’t install this from within X, and you will also need some extra packages, so before you start, make sure that:

  • You have all of the compilation tools installed: sudo apt-get install build-essential
  • And you have any header or development libraries that are needed for your kernel.

Once that is installed, you need to disable X. You cannot simply kill the X process, because it will start itself back up, and you can’t really run in runmode 3 or 1 as in the Debian world, 2 – 5 seem to be the same, and 1 may not run some of the system services required to install the driver. Many earlier tutorials mention running these commands to stop X for gnome:

  • sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop
  • sudo /etc/init.d/gdm3 stop


  • sudo /etc/init.d/kdm stop

But on mint, you need to use:

  • sudo /etc/init.d/lightdm stop

Once I ran that, I was dropped to a terminal, and I could run the NVIDIA installer as per the instructions. It disabled the nouveau driver and compiled my driver. After a reboot, all was good in the world.

I have a few thoughts on a simpler process. It is possible that the nouveau driver was conflicting with the NVIDIA driver. If I just disabled, or blacklisted the nouveau driver, the restricted drivers install wizard may have worked fine.

Here are a list of the pages I consulted to come to my resolution: