1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

Using The Nouveau Driver In Ubuntu 9.04

Michael Larabel

Published on 24 April 2009
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 1 - 5 Comments

As we reported in December, the Nouveau driver is available in Ubuntu 9.04. Unlike Fedora 11 where the Nouveau driver is being enabled by default on NVIDIA hardware, the Nouveau driver will be an after-installation option to Ubuntu users. In this article are the simple steps on how to enabled the Nouveau driver in Ubuntu and what you can expect from this open-source, community-spawned graphics driver.

The Nouveau developers have been working on both the DDX X.Org driver with 2D and X-Video acceleration and then the 3D driver that is using the Gallium3D architecture. In the Ubuntu 9.04 release, only the DDX driver is an option but hopefully come time for Ubuntu 9.10 we will see the Gallium3D support in Ubuntu's Mesa stack. Mesa 7.5 is here, but by the time of the Karmic Koala we will ideally see Mesa 7.7/7.8 at least. The 3D support in Nouveau also varies quite a bit depending upon the NVIDIA ASIC and other factors.

Similar to the 3D situation, the Nouveau developers have mode-setting support in the traditional DDX driver but also they have already worked quite a bit on kernel mode-setting support. This Nouveau kernel mode-setting support is not yet in a released kernel and we probably will not see it be pushed into a mainline kernel until Linux 2.6.31 or more likely would be 2.6.32. It is possible we could see Nouveau kernel mode-setting in Ubuntu 9.10, but with the Jaunty Jackalope release it is limited to traditional mode-setting.

Acquiring the Nouveau driver on an Ubuntu 9.04 system just requires running sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-nouveau. Besides fetching the xf86-video-nouveau driver, there is also a Nouveau-specific version of the libdrm that is needed as well as the Nouveau kernel module. Until there is the Nouveau support in a released kernel, there will be the nouveau-kernel-source package on Ubuntu for providing this support. The nouveau-kernel-source package uses DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support) for automatically rebuilding the kernel module when you have upgraded or otherwise changed your Linux kernel.

Once the necessary packages are installed, the Nouveau driver needs to be set in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file by adding Driver "nouveau" to the graphics card's device section. After that, reboot and you should be running with the Nouveau driver. An easy way to ensure you are running the Nouveau driver is by running cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep NOUVEAU and then look at the output.

Even a novice Linux user can do this setup process within just a few minutes. While there is no 3D support for Nouveau in this Ubuntu release, the Nouveau driver is at least more actively being worked on than xf86-video-nv, which is the default NVIDIA driver in Ubuntu. While xf86-video-nv is the official open-source NVIDIA driver, it's 2D-only, ill maintained, contains a very slim set of features, and the code is intentionally obfuscated. In fact, there really have only been a few commits to the xf86-video-nv driver in the past several months.

The Nouveau driver still has a ways to go before seeing a stable release or the driver being feature-complete for any product generation, but they are making great progress and it is beginning to be picked up by more Linux distributions. General questions about the Nouveau driver can be asked in the Phoronix Forums.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. CompuLab Intense-PC2: An Excellent, Fanless, Mini PC Powered By Intel's i7 Haswell
  2. From The Atom 330 To Haswell ULT: Intel Linux Performance Benchmarks
  3. AMD Radeon R9 285 Tonga Performance On Linux
  4. Apotop Wi-Copy
Latest Linux Articles
  1. AMD Moves Forward With Unified Linux Driver Strategy, New Kernel Driver
  2. MSI: Update Your BIOS From The Linux Desktop
  3. NVIDIA vs. AMD 2D Linux Drivers: Catalyst Is Getting Quite Good At 2D
  4. 15-Way GPU Comparison With Mesa 10.3 + Linux 3.17
Latest Linux News
  1. NVIDIA's NVPTX Support For GCC Is Close To Being Merged
  2. KDE's KWin On Wayland Begins Using Libinput
  3. Khronos Releases OpenVX 1.0 Specification
  4. Linux Kernel Working Towards GNU11/C11 Compatibility
  5. Ubuntu 15.04 Is Codenamed After A Monkey: Vivid Vervet
  6. Following GCC, Clang Looks To Default To C11
  7. Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
  8. Linux 3.18-rc1 Released One Week Early With Many Changes
  9. The VC4 Gallium3D Driver Is Still Moving Along For The Raspberry Pi
  10. Direct3D 9 Support Might Land Within Mainline Mesa 3D Drivers
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
  2. HOPE: The Ease Of Python With The Speed Of C++
  3. Bye bye BSD, Hello Linux: A Sys Admin's Story
  4. NVIDIA Presents Its Driver Plans To Support Mir/Wayland & KMS On Linux
  5. AMD Is Restructuring Again, Losing 7% Of Employees
  6. Open-Source AMD Fusion E-350 Support Takes A Dive
  7. Upgrade to Kaveri, very slow VDPAU performance
  8. ChromeOS Drops Support For EXT2/EXT3/EXT4 File-Systems