Is it just me?

As I’ve mentioned before I run SuSE Linux 9.0 Pro for my desktop OS. My PC is one that I home-built with a bit of help from my local hardware guru (Eric). For my video card, I’ve got a BFG GeForce 5600 SE (or was did they call it an Ultra? *shrug*) with 256MB of Video RAM. I’m subscribed to the SuSE-Linux-e mailing list and it seems that I frequently see messages coming into the list about people having all sorts of problems installing the NVidia video card drivers. Now, I know that you can supposedly get the newest drivers from SuSE via YOU and that NVidia has some special instructions for SuSE users on their linux driver download page but really what’s all the fuss about? The first time I installed the drivers the special instructions were out of date and YOU wasn’t showing the current driver; so this is what I did then and do everytime I need to install the NVIDIA drivers1:

  1. Hit Crtl-Alt-F1 to get a text console.
  2. Logged on to my system as root.
  3. Typed in init 3.
  4. Waited for my system to finish rebooting into text-only mode2
  5. Once I’m in text-only mode and logged in as root; if I haven’t downloaded the newest driver yet, I fire up lynx go to NVIDIA’s site and get the driver.
  6. Once I have the driver, I exit lynx (if necessary) and then type sh ./, where XXXX is the version of the driver.
  7. This launches NVIDIA’s special driver installer and I follow all the prompts in it. Their installer will check to see if it can download some extra files that it might be able to use instead of compiling them on the fly, but those files have yet to be out there. Then it works its magic and drops me back to the prompt.3
  8. Back at the prompt, I type sax2. This launches SuSE’s utility for configuring your video card and monitor settings.
  9. I go into the monitor settings and confirm that it’s detecting my monitor correctly (it has every time so far).
  10. Then I go into the video card settings and reselect my card. sax2 always defaults my card to the nv driver and it needs to be the driver for my specific card.
  11. After reselecting my card, I setup my display settings (24-bit color at 1600×12004).
  12. Once I’m satisfied with all my settings; I click Finish.
  13. sax2 then prompts me to see if I want to test my settings before I accept them and I click Yes.
  14. I think it’s while I’m in this test mode that sax2 allows me to adjust the how big of an image that my video card throws onto the monitor. Not the resolution but the actual displayed image; a software version of the controls on the bottom of the monitor that allow you to adjust the image size, orientation and what not. I use sax2 to adjust my screen until the display is centered and fits completely on my monitor (no cut-off edges).
  15. Then I click Ok.
  16. This throws me back to the prompt where I type reboot -n.
  17. When my system comes back up; the new drivers are installed and I’m back in runlevel 5 (graphical, multi-user). Everything looks sharp and my 3D stuff works. End of story. It sounds more complicated than it actually is but from what I’ve been reading on the mailing list; this sure beats the stuffing out of how other people do it. 🙂

1 I’m writing these instructions up from memory so there’s no guarantee that they’re 100% accurate; however they should be close enough for most people to figure out what they’re doing.
2 For some reason my system always hangs at one point during this process; I think it’s while it’s trying to shut down a specific process but the name of that process currently is eluding my memory. When I get to that point, I just hit Crtl-C and my PC will skip past the bad process.
3 Newer versions of the Nvidia driver complain that my kernel was built with RIVAFB support and say that if the RIVAFB module gets loaded that it’ll cause me problems but I just ignore that because I know the module never gets loaded. One of these days, I’ll have to figure out how to reconfigure my kernel so that support isn’t in there. *shrug* That’s a project for another time.
4 Why yes, I do love having a 21″ monitor. *shameless grin*

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