Towards the end of November, I upgraded (read: completely rebuilt) my Linux partition from 8.04 (Hardy Heron) to 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex). I’ll have more to say about the latter in a future post, but after the upgrade I was immediately faced with two problems. One, the inability to establish a VPN connection, that was critical to my ability to use this as my primary work computer and the second, an issue with my title bars that, though extremely annoying, was really just aesthetic.
The solution to the VPN issue is detailed in an earlier post and today I finally got around to fixing the title bar issue. It took me a while because, though the solution itself is relatively simple, I had a lot of trouble finding the entire solution in one place. Thus, the birth of this post.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but unfortunately I neglected to take a screenshot before fixing the problem. Nonetheless, I’ll try to keep my description well under a thousand words.
Frequently and inconsistently, my active title bar would go grey and the appearance would fracture. I don’t know how to describe it any better except to say that if Picasso himself had painted a title bar in shades of grey, it would have probably looked much like mine. Cubist, indeed.
The problem, in a nutshell, is with the NVIDIA video driver. If you don’t have an NVIDIA video driver, you probably don’t have this problem. Intrepid Ibex ships with three proprietary NVIDIA driver versions: 96, 173 and 177. I don’t remember which was installed by default, but I encourage you to trust me when I say that not one of them worked.
First, of course, you need the right driver. I read somewhere that version 180.06 worked as expected so that’s the one I downloaded. I’ll save you the suspense and tell you that this version did work for me. It can be downloaded from the NVIDIA site, but be sure to select the 32 bit or 64 bit version, as appropriate. I downloaded it to my desktop. Once you have the appropriate driver:
- Close everything except for a terminal window. I do mean everything because you’re about to stop the X Windows process.
- In the terminal window, type sudo killall gdm and hit Enter.
- Once the screen goes black, hit Ctrl+Alt+F1 to switch to a new terminal.
- You should see a terminal prompt so switch to the directory where you downloaded the driver file. My command was cd ~/Desktop.
- It may be sufficient to just use sudo here, but just to be sure, I dropped into a root shell by typing sudo -s and hitting Enter.
- Execute the driver file. If you didn’t rename the file, the terminal command should look something like this: ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-180.06-pkg2.run.
- Follow the prompts through the installation process. You may see some scary messages about the driver having “no precompiled kernel interface”, but allow the install to do what it needs to do (it’ll ask to check for one and, failing that, it will ask to compile its own). I let it go about its business and had no problems at all.
- Once the install is complete, you can probably just type startx and hit Enter, but again, I wanted to be really, really sure, so I did a full reboot. If you used sudo -s as I did and choose to simply restart X, I’d recommend logging out of the root shell first or else you’ll start X as root.
That’s all there is to it. So far, everything looks good, but I have noticed one thing that looks odd to me:
Seems Ubuntu thinks I’m still using version 177. As I said in my last post, Ubuntu is pretty solid, but not everything “just works”.