NVIDIA Problems with my ATI Graphics Card

Posted on Sunday 29 May 2011

So once again I’ve proven to myself that Ubuntu – my favourite operating system STILL isn’t ready for prime time! 👿 I would have thought that after two years of getting things “better” they would have gotten some of the basic stuff right! I mean I ranted about problems with ATI Cards and Ubuntu TWO YEARS AGO…. and it hasn’t improved any where near where it should have. My title really does say it all…. What?! 😯

I’m thinking that I should change my graphics card…. it’s an ATI Radeon X700 Pro ( or to be specific – an RV530 Graphics Card from ATI. ) Sure it’s a little dated, but still has 256MB graphics capability and is a highly rated card. Plus if it’s a bit dated it should be “known” – shouldn’t it???

So it all starts with a “simple, little, upgrade” – who knew? I decided it was time to upgrade my Ubuntu from 10.04 ( Maverick Meerkat ) to 11.04 ( Natty Narwhal ). Each upgrade of Ubuntu gets better with certain things, but unfortunately breaks other things in the process. Why they won’t stick with what they liked and decided on in the last version boggles the mind however and can lead to grief. In my case, a lot of grief….. once again . 😡

The first tip off was when the upgrade abruptly announced that it couldn’t handle the new windows manager Unity and reverted to the original Gnome desktop. A bit alarming but okay, I wasn’t sure I wanted Unity anyways, especially since their next upgrade after this is already announced as the latest Gnome 3 version…. so why bother, I wasn’t “overly” concerned…. for the most part things “seemed” to be working…. that is until I tried something a little more graphics intensive…. sigh.

The first thing that tipped me off was my attempt at updating my beta version of Memoir44. A brilliant little board game that they are working on putting on the 3 main computer platforms: Windows, Apple and Linux. It started generating a bunch of graphics error messages and then aborted. So I started digging, and digging and digging and found that all my other graphics intensive programs also no longer ran…. yeah of course they don’t any more!

Running glxinfo (a great test utility to see what is going on behind the scenes showed me an error I hadn’t seen in TWO YEARS – see above )….

Xlib: extension “GLX” missing on display “:0.0”.

I was stunned and started searching to see if anyone else had this problem, and there were a few, and have always been a few out there who run into this for all sorts of reasons. So I started checking all my software, making sure all the right pieces were still in place. Now remember I have an ATI graphics card, that’s important for later…

I even tried installing that temperamental FGLRX software and removing it, and installing the open-source Radeon version and doing the same thing, and nothing, absolutely nothing worked! I was stumped, stymied and greatly frustrated. No matter how I tried to change things and rebuild my Xwindows environment…. nothing really “fixed” my problem! I always got the same stupid error… hundreds of them…

Xlib: extension “GLX” missing on display “:0.0”.

A funny thought eventually hit me,  it really came out of the blue. Is it possible that somehow I’ve gotten Nvidia ( a completely different and incompatible type of graphics card than what I have  – ATI remember ) software installed. I did a quick apropos command ( a quick way to check to see what you have manual pages for ) – i.e. “apropos nvidia” and found a bunch of manuals for all sorts of stuff….. and I thought – What the….??

So I removed them, and guess what? It actually fixed my problem….. but/and strangely the manuals are still there, so I’m not sure what is going on with that….

So here is what I did – in case you have/had the same problem.

  • $ sudo apt-get remove –purge nvidia* ( this grabbed all sorts of nvidia “stuff” and deleted it all – save for the manuals…. )
  • $ sudo apt-get remove –purge fglrx* ( making sure there wasn’t any of that around after intentionally installing it trying to fix things … )
  • $ sudo apt-get install –reinstall libgl1-mesa-dri libgl1-mesa-glx libglu1-mesa mesa-utils ( reintsalled the GL tools just in case they got whacked in all this … )
  • $ sudo apt-get install –reinstall xorg xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core ( reinstalled the Xserver portions – making sure all is well… )
  • $ sudo apt-get install –reinstall xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-radeon ( reinstalled the open source drivers for my card… )
  • $ sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg ( brought back the default xorg.config… )
  • $  spat in my hand and spun around twice…. ( why take chances… )
  • Restarted the computer… ( with fingers crossed… )

And Voila Unity popped right up and glxinfo and glxgears ran fine! For that matter so did all my other programs and my upgrade to Memoir44

So, it begs the obvious question. How did nvidia drivers get there in the first place? To be truthful, I really don’t know, but my gut tells me that it happened during the upgrade. So either the upgrade assumes you have nvidia ( I sure hope that’s not the case! ) or for whatever reason it reads my card and says – hey nvidia!! Which again is soooooo wrong! Any other ideas?

Alas, once again however it shows that Ubuntu, for the non computer type, can be a very VERY inhospitable place. Which shows that it still isn’t ready for the average user…. I don’t know, you think they’d focus more on making it work right the first time, instead of adding new bells and whistles and major changes every 6 months.

Wouldn’t you?!














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