Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 and GeForce 7800 GT

Note: This issue seems to affect Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty, and Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic, in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. I've seen some anecdotal evidence that it affects earlier releases too.

I recently set out to install Ubuntu 9.10 on my aging old home PC: an Athlon64 3800+, 2 GB RAM, decent (at the time) Asus board. Most importantly, this machine has an NVidia GeForce 7800 GT video card. To my surprise (having installed Ubuntu on numerous other machines of various age), I had a myriad of problems with the install. The symptoms were as follows:

  • Installer would freeze with corrupt looking graphics if I tried to change certain options
  • If I took all defaults in the installer, I could get the OS installed, but it would lock up (again with corrupt looking graphics on screen) when selecting my user name in gdm when X started up

Googling around at length revealed others with similar problems, and the common element was the GeForce 7800 GT video card. Related links:

I don't really know what the root cause is here, but using the above info, here's a work-around: (This assumes you got the OS installed somehow, and are now at the point where you want to login, but cannot due to X locking up.)

  1. Get to a terminal either by recovery booting to the shell (netboot), or by hitting ctrl-alt-f1 at the graphical login screen.
  2. Add the NVidia ppa to get access to their newest drivers:
    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nvidia-vdpau/ppa
    sudo apt-get update
  3. Remove any existing NVidia driver:
    sudo apt-get purge nvidia-glx-*
  4. Install the newest driver:
    sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx-195
  5. Configure the newly installed driver:
    sudo nvidia-xconfig
  6. Reboot and you should be good to go.


  1. After months of frustration, your workaround has fixed my problem. Thank you! =)

  2. Hi, Raymond. Glad I could help! (Sorry I missed your comment when you originally posted it.)

  3. Well here I am with the same card and the newest Ubuntu release 10.04 and I cant get past the point where the files finish loading, The Ubuntu name gets graphically mangled, and my system locks up, hard like you said. Guess the bug is still there. I'm not sure what to do now as the os didn't even finish installing.....