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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Solve Graphic Driver Errors & Unity 3D Display Issues in Ubuntu 11.10

Graphic card compatibility issues with Ubuntu are very annoyingly frequent during installation. I've been a sufferer of the same recently when my graphic card drivers crashed and Unity 3D failed to render correctly, Instead it reverted to Unity 2D version which pretty much sucks. Here are some insights into Unity panel issues w.r.t the non-availability or incompatibility of your graphic driver.

Test if unity is supported  :
Type in terminal

/usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test -p 

You need to get an output saying Unity is Supported : Yes. If you don't, there are things that need to be answered which of course will be, in the below steps.

How do you know if Unity 3D is running :
In the terminal, type in


If the output of the above command is Ubuntu, Unity 3D is enabled and running.
If the output of the above command is Ubuntu-2D, Unity is running in 2D mode.

PS: Make sure you are logged into Ubuntu and not into Ubuntu 2D. Verify this prior to login.

Test if Graphic card is detected :
In the unity dash, search for system Info. The System info will show you Processor, Memory, Graphics and other details. If the graphics details displayed is empty, it means that either the graphic card installed is not recognized or you might not have installed a graphic driver at all.

Moving On :
There are three ways of looking at any issue relating to graphic driver installation.

1) Install default binaries provided by Ubuntu (FGLRX drivers) (or)
2) Install Open source drivers to get the graphic card detected & running (or)
3) You either install the ATI binaries from the official ATI site.

You must stick to only one among the above three aproaches, out of which the Second option to install third party open source drivers is the best in my opinion. Here I've explained the first two approaches in detail.

Prior to taking any of the above approach, run this command to install dependencies :

sudo apt-get install build-essential cdbs fakeroot dh-make debhelper debconf libstdc++6 dkms libqtgui4 wget execstack libelfg0 dh-modaliases

1) Install FGLRX drivers provided by Ubuntu (I don't recommend)
To install the FGLRX drivers, search the Unity dash for Additional Drivers, Click on the appropriate FGLRX driver suggested and activate it.

2) Install Open source Graphic Drivers (Recommended)
The below command will remove all traces of Ubuntu's default fglrx drivers (if installed).

sudo apt-get remove --purge fglrx fglrx_* fglrx-amdcccle* fglrx-dev*

Remove the existing xorg.conf 
sudo rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Reinstall the xorg.conf
sudo apt-get install --reinstall xserver-xorg-core libgl1-mesa-glx:i386 libgl1-mesa-dri:i386 libgl1-mesa-glx:amd64 libgl1-mesa-dri:amd64

Configure xorg

sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

Reboot the system
sudo reboot

The above series of commands are most important, necessary and typically are the installation steps involved in using open source Graphic drivers to detect your graphic card.

PS: These open source drivers worked spot on with my Dell system with an AMD Radeon™ HD 6470M - 1GB (For ICC) video card. And should hopefully do the job for you too :)


Pau Torres said...

HI, thanks a lot, i'm a hp dm4-2090la and it works. But i have a question with this hybrid graphics pc's, how can i do to make battery live longer??? in ubuntu only reach 2 hours!

Chennakesava said...

I tried this but the problem remains. I have Dell XPS laptop with nvidia graphics card GeForce GT 420.

Vamsi Emani said...

@Pau Torres

Glad that the post helped.. Coming into battery life thing, this has been a Kernel issue since long.. Even my laptop currently pushes hard to 2 hrs max.. We just need to wait for the kernel update perhaps, hopefully the dev team are addressing this..

Apart from that, resorting to some simple habits will show an impact on battery life like say turning off the wifi/bluetooth, low brightness, et al.. And I believe there are certain applications that improve battery performance to some extent.. You can Google/askUbuntu and install them..

Vamsi Emani said...


Did you follow every step correctly? Just check crosscheck if you have FGLRX drivers or any other graphic drivers prior installed?

Coz this post is meant to install OpenSource drivers.

Firstly, remove all traces of graphic drivers if already installed. And try adapting the above steps.

If it still doesn't, just resort to Ubuntu forums or askUbuntu. I believe I've seen a detailed post in Ubuntu forums regarding installation for nvidia graphics!

Good Luck!

Tony Morais said...

Hi, your tutorial is the first I follow and my intire system dont break out. thanks for it. But even following your instructions the error remain. the only thing diferent (I think) is that there is no xorg.config. I have a dell inspiron n5110 amd radeon 6470m 512m. please

Cato O. Strand said...

Did you get your computer to actually use the gfx card, or is it using the integrated graphics?

When I followed your tutorial it automatically reverts to using the integrated gfx card, and that puts quite a strain on the cpu which in turn means too high temperature..

Anonymous said...

Yep, all good on my new HP DV6. Thank You

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! I was struggling with OpenGL on my AMD Radeon™ HD 6470M card for months. I followed your post and it works now! However, still having one issue. Whenever I boot into Ubuntu 11.10, I get a black screen. To start correctly, I have to replace the "quite splash" with "nomodeset=0" in the GRUB editor everytime. Is there any solution for that?

Anonymous said...

I got the solution for my blank screen issue. I made the Boot Parameter Changes Permanent. Problem solved! Thanks for your help regarding OpenGL and AMD 6470M again!

danielhora said...

I tried this and I got a frozen black screen when booting. Please, help me to recover my system.

DELL Studio 1450
ATI Radeon HD 4550

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Worked for Ubuntu 12.04, Radeon HD 6400M Series

stat30fbliss said...

This worked for me on my HP dv6 with Ubuntu 12.04!

Thanks so much!!!

Anonymous said...

Worked for Ubuntu 12.04, Radeon hd 2400 Series, too.

Thank you for solving my ubuntu :)

Anonymous said...

Worked for me using Intel Sandybridge 2600's HD 2000 card. Many thanks

Cory Meyette said...

Recently installed 12.04 [my first linux distro] on my HP g6 laptop with Intel HD Graphics Family integrated card. System reading no 3D acceleration. Tried your method hoping it would work on mine but to no avail. One thing i noticed is running sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg produces no visible results. After entering command it immediately returns to the command line. Not sure if that is normal or not but I thought I would mention it. System details recognize my graphics card. Lists as Sandybridge. Any thoughts?

Anton Paisov said...

thank you very much, man) helped me with ubuntu 12.04 and Radeon HD 6470M, on hp probook 4730s

Anonymous said...

thank you very much, ubuntu looks much better and even Compiz manager and MyUnity work properly :) (I have Radeon HD7650M on HP probook 4540s)

His Vision TV said...

You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go along with with your opinion. Thanks!
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Unknown said...

Choosing option 2 created enormous problems for me. Option 3 worked great though and I recommend downloading the driver directly from AMD. Because option 2 broke my installation, I needed to force install the official AMD drivers.

Ubuntu 12.04 64bit on a Lenovo B575 with AMD Radeon HD 6310.

mahasiswa teladan said...

hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

thanks !! work for me in my HP pavilion dv6

Ravshan Abbasov said...

Thanks! Works like a charm for 12.04 on Sony VAIO with ATI graphics

SuanandaY said...

Thanks a lot, it fix my problems in 12.04

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Jonatan Tisnado said...

Hi Vamsi:
I get the following error when running #dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg under root.
Unescaped left brace in regex is deprecated, passed through in regex;

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