Ubuntu and Aging Nvidia Graphics Cards: Compositing in 5 Steps

I’ve got a pretty old Nvidia Quadro FX 1400 video card in an older IBM that I use as my primary workstation at home. It only has 3GB of RAM, about 4TB of storage, and a dual core Intel Pentium 4 CPU at 3.60GHz. It’s plenty fast for my needs. I typically run Sublime Text 3, a terminal window with a few tabs, and Chrome Beta with many tabs.

I also use Docky, I’d really like to find a good replacement for it, but that’s something for another post.

1. Install the 304 nvidia driver.

Just fire up Synaptic Package Manager and search for “nvidia”. It’ll list a lot of stuff, but install the nvidia-304 and nvidia-304-dev packages. After installation is done, go to step 2.

2. Select the nvidia-304 driver.

Go to “Settings Manager”, then click “Additional Drivers”. Select the 304 driver, select the one labeled as “(proprietary, tested)”. Look at the screenshot for a detailed view.

3. Apply the nvidia-304 driver.

Click Apply, right below the driver list. Enter your password, and let it do it’s thing. It may take a while.

4. Generate xorg.conf.

Do this with ‘sudo nvidia-xconfig‘. It’ll write a new file to /etc/X11/xorg.conf. It will also make a backup of an existing xorg.conf if there’s one there to backup.

5. Reboot.

That’s it, you should have compositing working after a reboot.

Be aware that updates can break all of this. After applying almost 200 updates, it reverted me back to the nouveau driver. I had to go through these steps again to get back to the nvidia-304 driver.

It’s possible that step 1 isn’t necessary. I think the nvidia-304 driver would probably get installed when you do step 2. I didn’t try, though.

I’ve often downloaded drivers right from nvidia.com, but was having a terrible time getting them to build this time. Instead, I just went with the nvidia drivers provided by, um, well, whoever provides them, I guess. Using the nvidia-304 driver found in the Ubuntu repositories seems to be working quite well, so I’ll probably never have to do the manual download from nvidia.com again.

This applies to Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander, and more specifically, the Xubuntu flavor. But, it should work on any of the various flavors of Ubuntu.

Did I mess anything up? If so, please leave a comment here, or you can leave a comment on the Hacker News thread.


Packt Columbus Day Sale

Packt is having a Columbus day sale. Every e-book and videos are 50% off. The sale has been extended through Monday, October 21. It’d be a great opportunity to get an e-book of WordPress Multisite Administration while it’s half off. You could get it for $8.50 using the promo code COL50.

All Packt e-books and videos are on sale for 50% off, so chances are pretty good that you could find something you’d get some use out of. I wrote more about what books you can find over at Medium.com.


WordPress Multisite Administration E-Book Giveaway

Now that WordPress Multisite Administration has been published, I’ve got some free copies in e-book form to give away. I’ll also be giving away some hard copies of the book, but that won’t be until a little bit later on.

So, if you’d like to win a free WordPress Multisite Administration e-book, just leave a comment here. The first 5 people to leave a comment will receive the free e-book. Make sure to leave your real name and actual email address. If I try to email you and it’s an invalid address, you’re disqualified and I’ll just move to the next person.

If you think you’ve got friends who may be interested, please, forward them here!

The cover of the book is below.

WordPress Multisite Administration


WordPress Multisite Administration

WordPress Multisite Administration is avaialable for pre-order from packtpub.com. I won’t go into the details of the book here, I’ve touched on it previously. Packt will be publishing WordPress Multisite Administration tomorrow (maybe it’s today now), Monday August 26.

A few days ago the folks at Packt sent me over the book cover for approval, there’s a copy of the book cover attached to this post. My daughter Sydney really liked it, and I didn’t see any reason to argue with her.

I’ll have a few books to give away, am not sure if I’ll be doing that on this blog, on Twitter, Google+, or what. Either way I’ll post something about the book giveaway here. I think I’ll have 3 physical books and 1 ebook to giveaway right away after publication.

I really enjoyed working with the technical editors, who gave great advice throughout the editing process. And, as I suspect is normal, the people at Packt were all wonderful to work with. Communication was great and I think I was able to deliver everything on deadline, if not before. Although there may have been a couple times I had to ask for an extra day or two, which they were always willing to happily accommodate. It was laid-back and just generally a fun experience.

In a month or two I should have news on another book. It’ll be another WordPress book most likely, but could possibly be about one of the newer, more design focused CMS offerings, which there are lots of these days.


I’m Writing a WordPress Book

So, I’m writing a book for Packt Publishing. The book is going to be called WordPress Multisite Administration. I bet (hope) you can guess what the topic of the book is. 🙂

WordPress Multisite Administration will be available in both traditional book form, and e-book form.

It will be a great resource for folks wanting to try WordPress’s multisite functionality out. It’ll be relevant to various use-cases, such as a simple team blog, or a private blog network, similar to WordPress.com.

I’m very, very excited for the opportunity and the people at Packt have been awesome to work with. I’ll post more details here as the book gets closer to being finished, it’s still in very early development.

If you’ve got any suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered in the book, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.