How to Install the Latest Nvidia Driver on Ubuntu 12.04

A simple guide for users who want the latest version of drivers

Nvidia is starting to get serious about Linux and they are releasing more and more powerful drivers, but newcomers to this operating system will find it hard to install the newest version available.

We have prepared a short tutorial on how to quickly install the latest version of Nvidia drivers, 304.51. Moreover, this guide will help users install any subsequent versions Nvidia will release.

Most likely, online repositories won’t host the latest version of a video driver because it could prove to be unstable and users could end up ruining their systems.

This situation happened recently, with Ubuntu’s repositories. They were hosting an Nvidia driver that caused major problems with video cards from the 7000 and 8000 series.

There are two ways to install the latest drivers, one which is easier, but requires users to have an internet connection active, and the second is a little more cumbersome, but which does not need an internet connection.

The first method will require the addition of a PPA, followed by a system update, and finally by an installation.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

The above commands are useful if you already have the Nvidia driver installed and just want to upgrade it. If you want to install the driver, on a clean system for example, then replace the third step presented above with the following one:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-current

It’s that simple. From now on, whenever Nvidia releases a new driver, just hit the update command and a new version will be installed.

The second method is a little problematic for two reasons. One, because you will need to install the drivers from a terminal after stopping the login manager, Light DM, and secondly, because you will need to repeat this process every time the Linux kernel is updated by the OS developers.

First, download the latest Nvidia drivers to a familiar location, such as Downloads. Log out of the account and press CTRL-ALT-F1 in order to bring up the terminal. Enter the following commands:

sudo service lightdm stop

cd ~/Downloads

sudo chmod a+x


The name of the file will vary from one release to another. Follow the instructions and the new Nvidia driver will be installed. The problem is that with this method, the driver is compiled specifically for the Linux kernel you’re running, so if Canonical decides to update the kernel, this procedure must be done all over again.

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