Recently I upgraded some of my computer hardware to the latest (and greatest?) motherboard, CPU, memory, graphics card, etc. I had expected that using these new hardware with the latest in Linux (in general) would be easy – but I was wrong! Totally wrong! Boy, did I tear off my hair in despair in getting some Linux distributions to work with these hardware. To provide a short answer to the reason why: drivers!!! Some of the hardware are so new that proper drivers are not provided as standard – indeed some of them do not have Linux drivers (yet?). If they are available, they have to be downloaded from the manufacturer's web sites and installed separately to get the hardware to work properly under Linux.
Having solved the proper way to get these hardware and software to work nicely with each other, I came to realize that some users out there may face the same problems as me – hence the purpose of this article. It all about getting a specific graphics card – the Nvidia “Maxwell” based PCIe GTX 750Ti graphics card to work with a specific Linux distribution - the Linux Mint 17.2 (Rafaela). With a bit of tweaking the same procedures can apply to all “Maxwell” based Nvidia graphics card (GTX 750, GTX 960, GTX 970, GTX 980) with any Ubuntu-based Linux distributions.
A partial list of the new hardware is as follows:
- Gigabyte GA-Z97-HD3 Motherboard
- Intel Core i5-4590 CPU
- Kingston DDR3 HyperX PC-1600 16GB RAM
- Gigabyte (Nvidia) GTX 750Ti PCIe Graphics Card
- You are doing a fresh install of Linux Mint 17.2 on a blank (unformatted) HDD or SDD
- You are about to install the 64-bit version of Linux Mint 17.2 (codename: Rafaela)
- You have somehow downloaded the .iso file and that you have either burned the .iso file to a DVD or, even better (highly recommended), created a bootable USB drive
- The display cable (i.e., the cable connecting your PC's display port to the actual display) is connected to the Nvidia GTX 750Ti output port
- You have set up the BIOS for both UEFI and legacy boot. See here for a concise explanation of the pros and cons of UEFI vs legacy BIOS. (Thank you Michael Johnson)
- Insert the USB boot media (containing the Linux Mint OS) into one of the USB port and switch on the PC. Press the “F12” key after the POST beep and the boot menu will appear. Note that there are 2 items listed for the Linux Mint USB boot drive – one using UEFI (the word “UEFI” will appear in the name) and one using the legacy USB. Select which one you prefer. (Note that if you use the UEFI option, you will get a GPT type HDD or SDD and 3 partitions will be created under normal circumstances – one of which will contain the UEFI boot information.) Then press the “Enter” key.
Note that if you forgot to press the “F12” key (or you respond too late after the POST beep) and you are using a blank, unformatted HDD or SDD, you will boot automatically using the UEFI mode (see item 2 below). On the other hand, if your HDD or SDD contains a bootable OS, the PC will automatically boot this.
NOTE: If you using a DVD to install Linux Mint 17.2 and you have not inserted the DVD into the optical drive, then switch on the PC and press the “F12” key after the POST beep to enter the boot menu, open the DVD drive tray and insert the DVD, close the tray and wait for a few seconds until the light on the DVD drive stop flashing – then select the DVD from the boot menu and press the “Enter” key. This will only allow you to set up a legacy based install. If you wish to have a UEFI based install, then place the DVD into the optical drive as described above then press the reset key to restart the PC. Then let the PC boot up to the GRUB menu.
- If you have selected UEFI, the next window that will appear is the GRUB menu – press the “e” key to edit the boot parameters which will be displayed on-screen. Place the cursor on the line starting with “linux” and position it after the “}” and before “quite” (at the end of the line), and insert a space, followed by typing “nomodeset” (without the quotes). Then press the “F10” key to start the boot process.
If you have selected the legacy mode, the next window that will appear is the Mint menu with a message that says automatic boot will start in x seconds (where x = number of seconds remaining before boot) – press any key to stop this automatic boot process and then press the “Tab” key to edit the boot parameters which will be displayed on-screen. Place the cursor after the “lz” and before “quite” (at the end of the line), and insert a space, followed by typing “nomodeset” (without the quotes). Then press the “Enter” key to start the boot process.
- The Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop will appear – the resolution of the screen will depend on whether you have selected UEFI or legacy mode.
On a UEFI mode the screen resolution is set at 1024x768 on a hardware “laptop” screen. Note that you cannot change the resolution of this screen. On a legacy mode, the screen resolution is set at native resolution on a hardware detected screen.
Note that, for both cases the message “Running in software rendering mode” will appear on the top right corner of the desktop. Do not be alarmed by this message – remember that we have not installed the driver for the GTX 750Ti yet and this message serves to remind us of that fact. You can dismiss the message by simply clicking on it.
- Then double click on the “Install Linux Mint” icon and the installation process will start – just follow the on-screen instructions. Since installation of the OS is purely personal and subjective, it will not be described in this article. At the end of the installation, reboot your PC. Then press the “F12” key after you hear the POST beep. The boot menu should appear.
If you are using UEFI, select the UEFI name (“ubuntu” in this case) and press the “Enter” key. Quickly press the “Shift” key and keep it pressed while the PC boots and the GRUB menu should appear - release the “Shift” key. Press the “e” key to edit the boot parameters which will be displayed on-screen. Place the cursor on the line starting with “linux” and position it after “ro” and immediately before “quite” (at the end of the line), followed by typing “nomodeset” (without the quotes). Then press the “F10” key to continue the boot process. Note that failure to modify the boot parameters as stated, will result in the PC booting up to a blank screen. If this happens, press the PC reset button and try again.
If you are using legacy boot, select the HDD or SDD and press the “Enter” key. Quickly press the “Shift” key and keep it pressed while the PC boots and the GRUB menu should appear - release the “Shift” key. Press the “e” key to edit the boot parameters which will be displayed on-screen. Place the cursor on the line starting with “linux” and position it after “ro” and immediately before “quite” (at the end of the line), followed by typing “nomodeset” (without the quotes). Then press the “F10” key to continue the boot process. Note that failure to modify the boot parameters as stated, will result in the PC booting up to a blank screen. If this happens, press the PC reset button and try again.
- After logging in, the Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop reappears - with the correct resolution but with the warning message, I might add.
If you are using the 32-bit version of Linux Mint 17.2, click on the "Menu", then select "Administration" and lastly click on "Driver Manager". Enter your password and select "Nvidia-346" (as of October 2015) or higher - then click on the "Apply Changes" button. Wait till the green progress bar reaches the end and the "1 proprietary driver in use" message appears. Close the driver manager window and skip the following paragraph and go to step (6).
If you are using the 64-bit version of Linux Mint 17.2, launch a terminal and execute the following:
sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
sudo apt-get update
The above commands serves to add the 32-bit architecture to the 64-bit repository and then update the repository. Note that this is required by the Nvidia driver. Now execute the following from the terminal:
sudo apt-get install nvidia-346
This will install the actual Nvidia-346 driver – the latest as of October 2015. If the driver is successfully installed, you should see the “DKMS: install complete” message. You should not see any error messages – just ignore any warning message about utf8 locales (if any).
Note that this will only install the driver – not the Nvidia settings for the driver. To install that, execute the following from the terminal:
sudo apt-get install nvidia-settings
Close the terminal when done.
- Restart the PC and the login screen will appear – log in and the Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop will appear with no warning message. Note that you are now using the proprietary driver “Nvidia-346”. To see the information on your GTX graphics card, click on “Menu”, then select “Administration” and lastly click on “NVIDIA X Server Settings”. A window showing all the information on your GTX card will appear.
NOTE: If you find that shutting down or restarting your Mint PC takes a long time (and it will “beep” at you during the process), it does seem “normal” since this behaviour was present in several Linux Mint 17.2 PC with the same hardware which I helped to set up. Why this is so is something that I am still investigating.
Congragulations! You have now successfuly installed Linux Mint 17.2 with the Nvidia GTX 750Ti graphics card. Enjoy!