GUIDE: Which drivers to install when using an Nvidia, ATI or Intel video card on Ubuntu

This guide could be usefully in further future for newbies joining Linux distribution Ubuntu. Which could be allot since Steam is migrating focusing it’s gaming platforms to Linux.
I will divide this in several sections that try to address some concerns that we end users have when using this video cards. To make the text smaller and not have to repeat myself a lot I have created the following acronym:
ANI – When you read this it refers to any Ati/AMD, Nvidia or Intel Card.
The questions are found in this order:

  • 1. Can I use the latest ANI on an older version of Ubuntu?
  • 2. What is the difference between using the ANI driver from the official site, the one that comes by default with the system or the one that comes in the PPA repositories?
  • 3. What PPAs are recommended when using any ANI video card?
  • 4. How should I know which ANI package I should install?
  • 5. How to install an ANI driver?
  • 6. What is the difference between the different Proprietary Drivers?
  • 7. What common bugs are solved by using the latest ANI drivers?
  • 8. How to know if my ANI video card is supported in Ubuntu?
  • 9. My ANI video card does not install (Installation problems)

So the following are the top questions asked related to this video cards:

1. Can I use the latest ANI on an older version of Ubuntu?

Ubuntu 11.04 / Ubuntu 11.10
In 11.04 and 11.10, the latest video cards will not work properly using the default drivers. If the video card appeared several months after the release of Ubuntu 11.04 or 11.10, the default drivers will probably not have support. It might be necessary to do an upgrade/update of the system or even add a PPA that gives support for current and future video cards for this versions of Ubuntu.
For example, in the case of the GTX 560, it gained support with the Nvidia 275.xx versions. Since Ubuntu 11.04 came with support for the 270.xx series, your Nvidia card will not be detected or at least not work correctly (Not fully work). Your only solution is to use the one from the Nvidia Site (Not recommended) or to use one from one of the Nvidia PPA maintained for Ubuntu (The PPAs that offer Nvidia, Ati and Intel updated packages are the x-swat and xorg-edgers PPA). This only applies to 11.04. For 11.10 and above it works correctly (Except in some situations provided below) since the 275.xx drivers had already appeared by then.

Read moreGUIDE: Which drivers to install when using an Nvidia, ATI or Intel video card on Ubuntu

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