Installing Hardware Drivers in Ubuntu 2 comments

Hardware Drivers are very important for a computer system to run properly to its optimum limits. Real Gaming on Ubuntu would be possible only after Driver installation. This post will cover the basic methods of installing Hardware Drivers in Ubuntu. We will try to make things as simple as possible. When it comes to Laptops, Ubuntu has always configured the present external card easily and  the install was just 1 click away and most of the times, the case is same with Desktops as well but sometimes, things dont work as they are supposed to. For that, we have some mitigation strategies so that your hardware driver installation is not halted because of some bug or the other 🙂

Fundamental Method

This method is the most basic method of installing Hardware Drivers in Ubuntu. This method works for all kinds of cards irrespective of tags (ATI/Nvidia). All you need to do after Ubuntu installation is –

  • Connect to internet and wait for the pop-up to appear.
  • Click on it and it will show “Available Drivers” for the present hardware configuration.
  • Click “Activate” and the drivers will be installed easily. Then reboot the system.

If somehow, you donot see any popup or you loose it or cancel it, dont worry. All you need to do its to browse to System>Administation>Additional Drivers and click “Activate” and the available driver will be installed. After that reboot your computer and enjoy 3D effects Ubuntu as well. This method works 90% of times with most hardware. The images below will make you understand better –

Alter : Synaptic Method

Synaptic Package Manager can also be easily used to install Nvidia/ATI drivers in Ubuntu.


Open “Synaptic Package Manager” from System>Administration and search for ‘nvidia’. Now select ‘nvidia-current’,’nvidia-current-modaliases’, ‘nvidia-common’, ‘nvidia-settings’ and mark them for installation. Apply changes and wait for the processed to complete. That should be it. Reboot your computer and its done.


Open “Synaptic Package Manager” from System>Administration and search for ‘fglrx’. Now select ‘fglrx’,’fglrx-amdccle’, ‘fglrx-modaliases’ & ‘xserver-xorg-video-radeon’ and mark them for installation. Apply changes and wait for the processed to complete. Thats it. Reboot and done.

If the methods used above doesnt work for you, then the below are the best possible approaches to get things done. Be very careful while using them as you might land up in trouble.

Nvidia Driver Installation

Method I – PPA

A good news for all Nvidia card owners is that there is a PPA available that is regularly updated on launchpad. So you can directly use it to install your drivers, just type the following commands in sequence and its done.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nvidia-current nvidia-current-modaliases nvidia-settings

Reboot and enjoy !

Method II – Manual Install

There are some prerequisites for manual install and you need to be very careful while following these steps. First, make sure that your /etc/X11/xorg.conf is backed up.

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup

Next, download drivers for your system from the download page. Open a terminal, and run the following command:

uname -r

and now insert the output into the “uname -r” portion of this command (sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-`uname -r`) carefully as done below:

sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-2.6.38-8-generic

Now, we are ready. For Ubuntu, type

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

OR for Kubuntu:

sudo /etc/init.d/kdm stop

First navigate from the tty to the directory where you saved the install file (I will use /path/to/installer), then set executable permissions on it:

cd ~/Downloads
sudo chmod +x

You can start the install script with the following command:

sudo sh

The installer will now walk you through the steps required. Afater comletion, you can now restart your X11 using:

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm start


sudo /etc/init.d/kdm start

Now you can now change settings for your video setup. In Ubuntu, go to Applications->System Tools->NVIDIA X Server Settings and set your desktop accordingly.

ATI Driver Installation


Method I – PPA

There is a PPA available for ATI users on Launchpad which can be used to install ATI drivers on Ubuntu –

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-radeonhd

and reboot your computer. We didnt had any ATI cards for testing so, we are relying on launchpad and google for this one. Any help would be much appreciated in this case.

Method II – Manual Install

Prerequisites -> Open the terminal and type –

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libqtgui4

Download the drivers from HERE, and open the Terminal and type:

cd ~/Downloads

This is not necessary if you are running Kubuntu or have already installed the libraries. In the Terminal, to create the deb files, type:

sudo sh –buildpkg Ubuntu/maverick

To install the created deb files, type in the Terminal:

sudo dpkg -i *.deb

After that, type in:

sudo aticonfig –initial

Close the Terminal and reboot the system.

If all is right, the fglrx driver that corresponds to AMD/ATI Catalyst 11.2 will be installed and working on your system. To confirm the drivers are working open a Terminal and type:


and you will see your card info displayed. Reboot and enjoy your Ubuntu desktop to its maximum!

Ubuntu 11.04 Compiz effects ->

Unity 3D Workspaces ->

Thats it for now. We will be back with more later on. For any queries regarding Drivers or any other regarding Ubuntu, ask us here freely.

Njoy !

About Cell aka Abhishek

A Technology Fanatic, Open-source lover, a future Entrepreneur, & an Innovative thinker, is presently working as a R&D Engineer in the Wind Turbine Industry.

  • kev

    it doesnt work, when i give in “sudo sh –buildpkg Ubuntu/maverick” it does give a list, nothing more, when i give in the following command “sudo dpkg -i *.deb” it gives me an error?? if they just make some good drivers

  • Andybro

    Synaptics method works on Ultimate Edition 2.9 as the Fundamental Method stopped working