Now, starting with Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, Ubuntu developers introduced a new desktop environment of their own called ‘Unity’. There are two versions of ‘Unity’, one that relies on fancy 3D effects etc and another one that doesn’t use any of those.
The latter is aimed at ‘older hardware’ and it’s called ‘Unity-2d’. But the default version uses a 3D graphics rendering window manager called “Compiz” (which relies on the ‘OpenGL’ library for the rendering).
The thing with 3D rendering is that, in order to get the best “thrill” out of your OS, you’ll have to have the most up-to-date or the best drivers for your GPU. Because if you have a buggy (even if it’s up to date) or non-optimized drivers, then you’ll run into problems plus most probably Ubuntu will forcefully switch you back to the ‘Unity 2d’ that uses no 3D rendering, boooooo ;-).
Now it’s true that starting with the version 11.10, Ubuntu comes with the Kernel 3.0 for the first time (including a lot of individual application updates etc) and most importantly the X.org libraries which is behind rendering/creating the GUI (graphical user interface).
This is also the one that’s behind controlling your GPU, and the proprietary or the open-source GPU drivers actually run on-top of it.
By default Ubuntu does not ship proprietary drivers for Nvidia or ATI, etc. But thanks to a dedicated PPA, we can easily get the latest proprietary drivers in Ubuntu nonetheless!.
So if you want to get the latest proprietary Nvidia drivers in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04, then simply open the terminal and enter the below commands.
Update: This also works in 12.04 Precise Pangolin as well.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
Now, most of the time these official proprietary drivers will be slightly faster than the default open-source ones (not always true actually, since the open source ones do outperform them proprietary ones!, sometimes). And currently this PPA channel holds the latest “295.53 ” Nvidia drivers.
So, if you have a newer Nvidia GPU but still having few issues while trying to run the default Unity 3D desktop with OpenGL rendering alongside with Compiz, well, this might come in handy then!. Good luck.