How To Install Proprietary Graphics Drivers In Ubuntu & Fedora [Linux]

linux proprietary drivers intro   How To Install Proprietary Graphics Drivers In Ubuntu & Fedora [Linux]Being a Linux user lets you have a pretty cool choice – open source or proprietary software. While a lot of die-hard Linux users will scream at you if you use anything proprietary (and I recommend not using proprietary software unless absolutely necessary, but that’s still your choice), you can still install whatever the heck you want.

There are a good amount of proprietary products that are being made available for Linux, both free and paid, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. But because Linux allows the best of both worlds, you may also be curious about the proprietary drivers that are available.

Why Do You Possibly Need Proprietary Drivers?

In virtually all distributions, only open source drivers that come with the Linux kernel are used out of the box. While this should be perfectly fine for simple use (and it should work on any graphics setup), AMD and nVidia users may still feel the need to use the more powerful proprietary drivers so that games, videos, and more all play as smoothly as possible.

Intel users shouldn’t feel left out. Intel doesn’t offer any proprietary drivers, but instead pushes all of its work directly to its only set of graphics drivers, which are open source and included with the kernel.

Ubuntu

linux proprietary drivers additional drivers   How To Install Proprietary Graphics Drivers In Ubuntu & Fedora [Linux]

Ubuntu users have the easier route to getting these drivers installed. You’ll simply need to open your dash, menu, etc. and look for the Additional Drivers application. This little program will look to see if you have any hardware in your system that could be better supported through proprietary drivers. While it may also include wireless drivers, this is usually the place for the proprietary graphics drivers.

Simply click on which you’d like to install (I’d usually go with the latest), and apply.

linux proprietary drivers software center   How To Install Proprietary Graphics Drivers In Ubuntu & Fedora [Linux]

If you like a more technical route, you can technically find the fglrx package for AMD cards and nvidia-glx-xxx for nVidia cards (where xxx is the version number, like 185), but I recommend using the Additional Drivers application as it takes care of everything, and I’ve run into problems just installing fglrx through the package manager instead of through Additional Drivers.

Fedora

linux proprietary drivers fedora   How To Install Proprietary Graphics Drivers In Ubuntu & Fedora [Linux]

Fedora users have it a little more difficult, but it’s very manageable. First, you’ll need to head over to this site and install the free and non-free packages for your version of Fedora. These packages will add information about the repository which hosts the proprietary drivers, as the default repositories of Fedora are open-source only. Once that completes, you should now be able to search for kmod-catalyst for AMD cards or kmod-nvidia for nVidia cards.

This is a package that keeps track of dependencies and kernel modules, so whenever you install a new kernel it’ll update the drivers as well. Install, restart, and you’re up and running!

Conclusion

While I’d love to see proprietary-quality open source drivers, I highly doubt that something like that will ever occur. For those who need to use all of the horsepower their cards provide (especially when you have a higher end card; weaker/older cards are usually 100% supported), using the proprietary drivers is still the best way to go.

Please note that using proprietary drivers should work fine unless you have an AMD card while running Gnome 3. Until the problem is fixed, your performance while running Gnome 3 will be quite sluggish even though it’ll still run. If you run into this problem or any other issue, you can always uninstall the proprietary drivers and revert back to the open source drivers.

Do you prefer open source or proprietary graphics drivers? Do you think proprietary drivers should be open sourced? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Forrestal_PL

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10 Comments -

barney

I’ll probably get burned for saying it, but the driver(s) issue is why I treat Linux as a toy. It’s fun to play with it, but when I have serious work to do, I revert to Windows. Linux is too fractured to have mainstream vendor support. If I have new hardware (or software) that will not function in Linux, then I have to go where it will function in order to get my job(s) done. I have not the skills, nor time to acquire them, to compensate for inadequate drivers of any sort – nor should I have to have them. That’s the responsibility of the OS and the vendor(s).

Danny Stieben

I know that Linux seems fragmented with all of the different distributions, but they all have at least one thing in common: the Linux kernel. And as far as I understand it, they just need to make it work with the kernel, and it will automatically work with all distributions.

Trevor L

It would be really nice if card manufacturers supported their products on Linux just a little bit more than they do now. I have no problems with them wanting to keep their code private but I do want my video card to work without the rigamarole of installing proprietary drivers. I just finally got my hybrid graphics running under arch, the only issue I have now is HDMI audio.

Danny Stieben

I agree. It’s not that it’s hard to get it to work under Linux, they just don’t care as much.

Rey Aetar

it would be nice if an article is posted on how to install proprietary drivers from packages available in the manufacturers web site its relly a headche installing those manually

Danny Stieben

Ah yes, a guide like that would indeed help. There are guides out there to do that, but it’s always recommended to use the packages meant for a distribution whenever possible. It turns into a massive mess once you install the drivers from their website and then update your kernel.

Shehan Nirmal

It makes me angry when I cannot install my nVidia graphics card drivers on Ubuntu… So I changed my Ubuntu to Hanthana Linux… A fedora distro… It works great with any VGA card.

Igor Rizvi?

Good think the default drivers work like a charm since the day one :)

Sue

Hi Danny,

There’s just one problem — my screen goes black in the middle of installing -any- GUI on Ubuntu Server 12.04. I think it needs the drivers before installing the GUI. Any ideas how I can load those with access only to a command prompt?

Thanks,
Sue in Colorado

Tina

Sue,

In case you are still looking for a solution, may I recommend asking a question at MakeUseOf Answers. This is a quick way to receive some ideas.