How to Install a New Video Card for Ubuntu

Ubuntu provides several options for you to install new video card drivers for your system. Ubuntu supports both ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards, much like a PC, but you will need to check if your ATI card is compatible with Ubuntu prior to installing the proprietary drivers (see Step 4). In some cases, you will not need to install any proprietary drivers, as the native (Linux) driver is sufficient to activate your video card. The Ubuntu community recommends installing NVIDIA graphics cards, because they are better supported under Ubuntu.


    • 1

      Insert your video card into the proper PCI expansion slot while the computer is shut off.

    • 2

      Boot the computer and log in.

    • 3

      Navigate to "System," "Administration," "Hardware Drivers" and click on the box next to the restricted drivers for your video card. If you are installing an ATI card, continue to Step 4.

    • 4

      Download the "AMD Proprietary Linux Release Notes" document (see Resources) and check pages 2 and 3 to see if the ATI video card is supported by Ubuntu. If the card is supported, continue to Step 5. If not, purchase a supported video card and start the installation procedure again.

    • 5

      Navigate to "System," "Administration," "Hardware Drivers" and click on the box to enable the "fglrx" (proprietary) driver for the new video card.

    • 6

      Reboot the computer and log in.

    • 7

      To check whether the fglrx driver is working, open a terminal window and enter the following command: "fglrxinfo". If the driver is working correctly, you will see something similar to the following output:

      display: :0.0 screen: 0

      OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc.

      OpenGL renderer string: ATI Radeon HD 4600 Series

      OpenGL version string: 3.2.9232

Tips & Warnings

  • If you attach your monitor to the new video card and boot your computer, you should see the log-in screen. If this is the case, the video card most likely works natively (without proprietary drivers) under Ubuntu. However, sometimes installing the proprietary driver is necessary for some features to work.
  • To determine the make and model of your video card, open a terminal and type "lspci | grep VGA."
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