NVIDIA to ATI reconfiguration

on a home-built Ubuntu Linux computer
after a motherboard upgrade
(and video GPU change)

Home > RefInfo menu > Computer topics menu > Ubuntu Installs page > This NVIDIA-to-ATI video GPU reconfig page

!Preliminary! A few more notes or links may be added to clarify 'issues' encountered.

Introduction :

In October 2010, a fan on my home-built desktop computer was making so much noise I could no longer tolerate it. I opened up the case to track down which fan was making all the noise. I traced it to the fan on the EVGA (NVIDIA chip) video board in the PCI slot. I removed the board to try to determine the specific cause of the noise. I finally determined that one or more of the fan blades were probably contacting the mounting screws in the EVGA board. I tried to get to the screws to tighten them with a tiny Phillips screwdriver, but the screws were inaccessible. Unfortunately, on putting the video board back into the PCI slot, I heard a 'pssst' sound. Sure enough, on trying to startup my computer, I got a blank screen and no sound of disk drives powering up. No sign of the Ubuntu 9.10 startup process.

Since I was not sure what was fried:

  • EVGA video card
  • Gigabyte motherboard
  • Athlon 64 X2 CPU chip (dual-processor, socket AM2)
  • Kingston DDR2 800MHz memory (2 gig)
  • some combination of the above

I ended up taking the computer to a local repair shop where the owner-operator was familiar with Linux installs. He eventually determined that both the video card and the motherboard were fried. (He showed me a couple of burst capacitors that I had not noticed on the video board.)

Since the motherboard and CPU chip were several years old technology --- and AMD had come out with processors using the new AM3 socket --- and DDR3 memory now supported faster speeds than the DDR2 format, we decided to essentially do a computer upgrade.

The Gigabyte M57SLI-S4 Socket AM2 motherboard would be replaced by an Asus M4A78LT-M Socket AM3 motherboard with on-board video (integrated ATI Radeon 3000 GPU).

The AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ CPU chip (dual-processor) would be replaced by an AMD X4-630 quad-processor CPU chip.

The Kingston DDR2 memory (2 gig) would be replaced by DDR3 memory (4 gig).

The power-supply (450 watt) and hard-drives (2 80 GB Seagate serial ATA) --- and the two CD/DVD drives --- would stay the same.

The installation of Ubuntu 9.10 on this home-built PC, in late 2009, was described in my Ubuntu Installs web page. The home-built config page link provided there has been updated to this new home-built config page.

I went to the computer shop one day to check on how the upgrade was going. The owner had just got the components installed and was at the point of bringing the computer up to see if the Ubuntu installation would boot up to a login screen.

The bootup gave an error popup indicating something was awry with the video graphics. We managed to login in a generic video mode in which text was rather hard to read. But I could bring up the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file in 'gedit' and could see an 'NVIDIA' device line in the file that would need to be changed.

The User Guide for the Asus M4A78LT-M motherboard indicated that the on-board graphics was based on an ATI Radeon HD 3000 GPU. I left the computer at the shop for the owner to finish making some fan connections. (He added a fan to the front of the case.)

When I went home, I did some Google searches on terms like 'ati radeon 3000 driver linux ubuntu'. I found that ATI has a configuration GUI program for Linux called 'Catalyst'.

On my Cyberpower PC desktop computer (which has an NVIDIA graphics board), on which Ubuntu 9.10 was installed, I brought up the 'Ubuntu Software Center' and did a keyword search on 'ati'. It showed the existence of

  • an 'ATI binary X.Org driver' (fglrx)
  • 'ATI Catalyst Control Center' (amdcccle)

So I was confident that, when I got the computer back, I could remove the 'NVIDIA' statements from the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file and use the 'Ubuntu Software Center', if necessary, to install the 'fglrx' and 'amdcccle' programs.

The following section documents what I did to complete the transition from NVIDIA graphics to ATI graphics.

NVIDIA to ATI reconfig :

Here is how I re-configured my NVIDIA-video-board configuration in Ubuntu 9.10 Linux to accomodate the new Asus motherboard with on-board AMD-ATI Radeon 3000 graphics GPU.

On booting up, I got a window indicating a problem related to an NVIDIA driver. Since my new board did not use NVIDIA graphics, I used 'sudo gedit' in a terminal window to edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file --- to blank out the two lines

  • Driver "nvidia"
  • Vendorname "NVIDIA Corporation"
in a ' Section "Device" ' portion of xorg.conf.

Specifically, in the 'Monitor', 'Device', and 'Screen' sections of my /etc/X11/xorg.conf' file.

      Section "Monitor"
          Identifier     "Monitor0"
          VendorName     "Mag Innovision"
          ModelName      "LT717s"
          HorizSync       31.47 - 79.98
          VertRefresh     60.0 - 75.0
          Option         "DPMS"

      Section "Device"
          Identifier     "Device0"
          Driver         "nvidia"
          VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"

      Section "Screen"
          Identifier     "Screen0"
          Device         "Device0"
          Monitor        "Monitor0"
          DefaultDepth    24
          SubSection     "Display"
              Depth       24
              Modes       "1280x1024@60" "1024x768@60" "800x600@60" "640x480@60"

I left the 'Monitor' and 'Screen' sections as they were and simply changed the 'Device' section to

      Section "Device"
          Identifier     "Device0"
          Driver         ""
          VendorName     ""

On re-boot, this change did not prove to be enough to trigger the choice of a proper setting for screen resolution for my Mag Innovision monitor. It turned out that the default resolution was set to 1600x1200, but the highest that my monitor would support is 1280x1024 --- and I had been using 1024x768 with the NVIDIA-based video card.

    It surprised me that underlying Ubuntu/kernel/AMD-ATI software chose such a high-resolution. On installing Ubuntu 9.10 originally (in late 2009) on this home-built computer --- with the Gigabyte motherboard and EVGA NVIDIA-based video board and the Mag Innovision monitor --- a low-resolution setting, 640x480, was chosen. The usual procedure seems to be to err on the low-resolution side, rather than defaulting to a very high pixel resolution.

I was getting a small popup window, fixed in the center of the screen, apparently from the monitor, indicating an unsupported mode. The popup could not be closed, so I went to 'System > Preferences > Display' and set the mode to 1024x768. Then the popup went away. The desktop icons then appeared in the size that I had been used to.

    (The monitor showed as 'Unknown' in the Display preferences GUI. This is probably because the 'Mag Innovision' brand is not a common monitor brand, and Linux auto-detection routines probably fail to deal with that brand.)

Next, I downloaded the 'ATI Catalyst Control Center' via the 'Ubuntu Software Center'. After the install, the 'NVIDIA X Server Settings' item still appeared in the 'System > Administration' menu, but Catalyst did not appear in that menu --- nor in the 'System > Preferences' menu.

I finally found 'Catalyst' (in 2 forms) in the 'Applications > Other' drop down menu:

  • ATI Catalyst Control Center
  • ATI Catalyst Control Center (Administrative)

I could run the first option, but it would not allow me to go into the 'Display Manager' option unless I used the Administrative form. When I tried the Administrative item in the 'Other' menu, I got a popup saying 'admxdg-su' was not found.

I tried the command 'ls /usr/bin/amd*' in a terminal window and got only one executable for that mask --- 'amdcccle'. So I typed 'sudo /usr/bin/amdcccle' in the terminal window, and that allowed me to use the Catalyst 'Display Manager' option. It simply allowed me to set the Display resolution, which I had already done via 'System > Preferences > Display'.

Later I put 'Catalyst (Admin)' on the desktop as an icon (via right-click on the "Other" menu item and choosing to add the Catalyst-Admin item to the desktop). I used right-click on the icon and the 'Properties' option to change the command from 'admxdg-su -c admcccle' to 'gksu /usr/bin/admcccle'. Then I could use the desktop icon to use Catalyst in the root (admin) mode.

Thus ended the reconfiguring of my home-built PC to accomodate the new ATI Radeon 3000 GPU in place of the NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GS GPU on the fried EVGA video board. I am now a fan of fan-less (noise-free) video chips --- and I am NOT a fan of the EVGA brand.

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Page created 2010 Dec 07.