Chapter 6. Configuring X for the NVIDIA Driver

Table of Contents

Using nvidia-xconfig to configure the X server
Manually Editing the Configuration File
Restoring the X Configuration after Uninstalling the Driver

The X configuration file provides a means to configure the X server. This section describes the settings necessary to enable the NVIDIA driver. A comprehensive list of parameters is provided in Appendix B, X Config Options.

The NVIDIA Driver includes a utility called nvidia-xconfig, which is designed to make editing the X configuration file easy. You can also edit it by hand.

Using nvidia-xconfig to configure the X server

nvidia-xconfig will find the X configuration file and modify it to use the NVIDIA X driver. In most cases, you can simply answer "Yes" when the installer asks if it should run it. If you need to reconfigure your X server later, you can run nvidia-xconfig again from a terminal. nvidia-xconfig will make a backup copy of your configuration file before modifying it.

Note that the X server must be restarted for any changes to its configuration file to take effect.

More information about nvidia-xconfig can be found in the nvidia-xconfig manual page by running.

    % man nvidia-xconfig

Manually Editing the Configuration File

In April 2004 the X.Org Foundation released an X server based on the XFree86 server. While your release may use the X.Org X server, rather than XFree86, the differences between the two should have no impact on NVIDIA Linux users with two exceptions:

  • The X.Org configuration file is /etc/X11/xorg.conf while the XFree86 configuration file is /etc/X11/XF86Config. The files use the same syntax. This document refers to both files as “the X config file”.

  • The X.Org log file is /var/log/Xorg.#.log while the XFree86 log file is /var/log/XFree86.#.log (where # is the server number -- usually 0). The format of the log files is nearly identical. This document refers to both files as “the X log file”.

In order for any changes to be read into the X server, you must edit the file used by the server. While it is not unreasonable to simply edit both files, it is easy to determine the correct file by searching for the line

    (==) Using config file:

in the X log file. This line indicates the name of the X config file in use.

If you do not have a working X config file, there are a few different ways to obtain one. A sample config file is included both with the XFree86 distribution and with the NVIDIA driver package (at /usr/share/doc/NVIDIA_GLX-1.0/). The nvidia-xconfig utility, provided with the NVIDIA driver package, can generate a new X configuration file. Additional information on the X config syntax can be found in the XF86Config manual page (man XF86Config or man xorg.conf).

If you have a working X config file for a different driver (such as the “nv” or “vesa” driver), then simply edit the file as follows.

Remove the line:

      Driver "nv"
  (or Driver "vesa")
  (or Driver "fbdev")

and replace it with the line:

    Driver "nvidia"

Remove the following lines:

    Load "dri"
    Load "GLCore"

In the Module section of the file, add the line (if it does not already exist):

    Load "glx"

If the X config file does not have a Module section, you can safely skip the last step if the X server installed on your system is an X.Org X server or an XFree86 X release version 4.4.0 or greater. If you are using an older XFree86 X server, add the following to your X config file:

Section "Module"
    Load "extmod"
    Load "dbe"
    Load "type1"
    Load "freetype"
    Load "glx"

There are numerous options that may be added to the X config file to tune the NVIDIA X driver. See Appendix B, X Config Options for a complete list of these options.

Once you have completed these edits to the X config file, you may restart X and begin using the accelerated OpenGL libraries. After restarting X, any OpenGL application should automatically use the new NVIDIA libraries. (NOTE: If you encounter any problems, see Chapter 8, Common Problems for common problem diagnoses.)

Restoring the X Configuration after Uninstalling the Driver

If X is explicitly configured to use the NVIDIA driver, then the X config file should be edited to use a different X driver after uninstalling the NVIDIA driver. Otherwise, X may fail to start, since the driver it was configured to use will no longer be present on the system after uninstallation.

If you edited the file manually, revert any edits you made. If you used the nvidia-xconfig utility, either by answering "Yes" when prompted to configure the X server by the installer, or by running it manually later on, then you may restore the backed-up X config file, if it exists and reflects the X config state that existed before the NVIDIA driver was installed.

If you do not recall any manual changes that you made to the file, or do not have a backed-up X config file that uses a non-NVIDIA X driver, you may want to try simply renaming the X configuration file, to see if your X server loads a sensible default.