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Nvidia drivers in Linux Mint 17

Nvidia does not have a good reputation in the Linux community, even Linus Torvalds himself has expressed dissapointment with the company. And as I have found out, installing drivers for any of their GPU cards is not as straight forward as you hope it would be. But nonetheless, I have gotten my Linux Mint OS, or applications to be more precise, to use the dedicated Nvidia GPU instead of the intel GPU which is part of the CPU.

 

First a little history

Somewhere beginning 2014 I switched from Windows 7 to Linux Mint 17 as my main, and in fact only, laptop and desktop OS. I am mostly working with rpm package based distributions but I wasn't really content with the desktop experience CentOS 6 or Fedora 19 and 20 were giving me. Then on one day windows wouldn't boot anymore, I'm still not sure what happend, but the ssd was a blank. At that point I had had it with Microsoft. I couldn't read the productcode on the underside of my laptop anymore and I didn't have an installation medium for that matter either. I had just, a week earlier, decided to experiment with Linux Mint 17 after my favorite tech-site tweakers.net had posted that there was a new release of this particulair distribution. 

The main reason I liked this distribution was because it uses Cinnamon as its prefered and main windows manager. And the second, perhaps even more importaint, reason was that is was based on Ubuntu. 14.10 LTS in this case. That means there will be long term support for this release and Ubuntu is perhaps the most used Linux Desktop distrubution, which makes troubleshooting and googling that much more easy. Mint is not a fork by the way, it is a derivative, that means that they build the distribution based on a release from Ubuntu (there is a release based on Debian as well, for those who would like to go or be more bleeding edge). This makes it as good as interchangeably compatible with the Ubuntu release it is based on. The repositories it uses are in fact Ubuntu ppa's. Again this makes installing software and troubleshooting that much more easy.

I'll go into all this a little more in another article. 

Last friday I recieved a new laptop, a BTO 15CL56. Specifications include the following; Intel i7 4712Q, 2 x 8GB Corsair 1666 DDR3 SODIMM's, a 250GB Samsung 840 SSD and a fullHD 1920x1080 matt 15.6Inch display and a brand new Nvidia GTX970M with 6GB DDR5 vram.

I have spent the better part of the weekend to get the Nvidia to work with any application. I even installed the latest stable and beta drivers downloaded directly from the Nvidia website. Both these proprietary drivers resulted in a FUBARed x server every time.

The thing I did to get the card working on this laptop is as follows;

First check out the PPA page to see if the packages are ready: xorg-edgers PPA. Check out the package version of “nvidia-graphics-drivers-343″.

Once the driver is made into the PPA, you can run below commands one by one to install it in Ubuntu 14.04 or Ubuntu 14.10 and therefore in Linux Mint 17 as well:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install nvidia-343

Now this won't active the Nvidia PGU straight away, to use is you need the bumblebee package, bumblebee is the linux implementation of optimus for windows.

Install it in the following order (it seems to matter);

sudo apt-get install bumblebee

sudo apt-get install primus

sudo apt-get install bumblebee-nvidia

Now reboot your system and login again.

To run an application using the GPU put primusrun in the command line in front of the executable. For example

primusrun java -jar minecraft.jar or primusrun wine battlenet.exe

 

If in the future new drivers are released you can check the site again for the version you are looking for and install them with;

sudo apt-get install nvidia-{version number}

 

 

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