How to install Nvidia GeForce FX 5500 on Ubuntu 11.04

Nvidia Tux GeForce GNU / Linux

Yesterday I was at a friend of mine who has recently installed Ubuntu 11.04 to his already oldish Desktop computer.

The system was 1.4Ghz (amd) with 512 RAM and some kind of Dell Trinitron 19 inch monitor
Even though he tried hard to make his NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 ‘s drive to work properly with Ubuntu Natty Narwhal, he just has messed it even more.
As I always like helping people and I’m joyful for people who want to migrate to Linux, I took some time to make his NVIDIA GeForce work with this Ubuntu release.

First I tried to make it work by using some of the official NVIDIA Linux drivers located on nvidia.com following some online tutorial for Ubuntu claiming that it works but actually it didn’t, so finally after a bit of experimentation I found a way to make this video card work.
Here is how:

1. Install the following Ubuntu packages

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install nouveau-firmware nvidia-173 nvidia-173-kernel-source
nvidia-cg-toolkit nvidia-common nvidia-current nvidia-glx-173 nvidia-settings
...

2. Load in the kernel and set to be auto loaded on boot nvidia’s driver kernel module nvidia-173

root@ubuntu:~# depmod -a;
root@ubutnu:~# modprobe nvidia-173
root@ubuntu:~# echo nvidia-173 >> /etc/modules

3. Stop temporary (Gnome dipsplay manager) gdm

root@ubuntu:~# service gdm stop
...

4. Use nvidia-xconfig to generate a working version of /etc/X11/xorg.conf for Nvidia

root@ubuntu:~# nvidia-xconfig
..

nvidia-xconfig will generate new /etc/X11/xorg.conf configuration corresponding to the Nvidia GeForce Fx 5500 and will move the old xorg.conf to xorg.conf.backup.

5. Start the gdm manager to be running again

root@ubuntu:~# service gdm start
...

Now the Xserver will start in a terrible mode of 640×480, probably because Ubuntu was unable to define correct VerticalSync and HorizontalSync for the 19 inch Dell Trinitron monitor or for some other weird reason, to fix this it’s quite easy though.
The fix to the NVIDIA GeForce 5500 running in 640×480 mode is done straigh via Gnome menus.

6. Use Gnome’s System -> Preferences -> Monitors to set raise up the Xserver resolution

Navigate to Gnome’s menus:

System -> Preferences -> Monitors

Gnome System Preferences Monitors Nvidia GeForce 5500 Ubuntu

Here you will have to select more appropriate resolution and a different refresh rate, which in my case was 1024×768 and further on to store the settings press the Apply button.

One oddity here was that according to the Monitor Preferences the refresh rate was running on 54 Hz which I don’t believe was the case as I guess it’s some kind of Gnome or Ubuntu bug. I changed the 54 Hz Refresh Rate to 50 Hz as using the 54 Hz refresh rate as the screen had a minor vibrations observable if one takes a thorough look on the screen.

Setting the NVIDIA GeForce 5500 driver to work with 50 Hz Refresh Rate in Gnome loooked like the Windows‘s 85 Hz RR and looked quite nice so I left it this way.

Finally to test the newly installed driver 3D acceleration I used glxgears.

7. Install glxgears in order to be able to test that 3D acceleration on Nvidia works fine

root@ubuntu:~# apt-get install mesa-utils

After installing mesa-utils which nowdays contains glxgears executable one needs to execute the glxgears binary.

root@ubuntu:~# glxgears

Immediately after a window containing the glxgears should popup on the screen, like shown in below screenshot
Benchmark 3d Acceleration Linu glxgears

glxgears showed 3d acceleration works fine as the performance for 3d rendering shown was quite good and therefore 3D acceleration was running fine.

And that was it now the video works like and my friends, can enjoy the fun to have a generally virus Free OS 😉

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One Response to “How to install Nvidia GeForce FX 5500 on Ubuntu 11.04”

  1. Kscheer says:
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    Please help.  I have tried many other methods trying to get my FX5500 video card to work in Ubuntu 14.04.  Nothing works.  When I tried to install the Ubuntu packages listed in step 1 above, I got error messages stating "Unable to locate package nvidia-173-kernel-source" and "unable to locate package nvidia-glx-173".  My goal is to utilize the S-video out feature of my video card to display Ubuntu 14.04 on my Vizio television.  The FX 5500 card had been working well for this using Windows XP.  My computer is an old hp Compaq dx2000 MT with a 32 bit Pentium 4 processor.  All of my Nvidia driver install attempts have resulted in a black screen on both monitors upon rebooting.  Very frustrating to reinstall Ubuntu multiple times so as to be able to reattempt.  What should I try next?  I am very hopeful that your method might work for me too.  How can I get these missing packages.  I am pretty new to Linux CLI commands – an eager "newbie".

     

     

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