How to Install latest Intel GPU drivers in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin?


When compared to ‘Nvidia’ or ‘ATI’, Intel is still a bit behind when it comes to designing GPUs. However they too have pretty decent GPU products that give mediocre performances which suits for basic computing tasks.

And interestingly, unlike both Nvidia and ATI, Intel is drifted towards the open source system and releases their GPU drivers under two main open source licenses (‘MIT’ and ‘GNU GPL v2′). And because of this, Intel is less criticized by the core GNU/Linux OS developers, but then again, according to some experts, there are few Intel GPU products that ‘lack’ proper documentation as well ;-).

Usually, it’s the gamers who go crazy about the getting the latest GPU drivers, but for both performance improvements and fixing bugs, you should update your Intel GPU driver nevertheless.

If you use Ubuntu then these updates do take their time to get into the Ubuntu’s official OS update repositories (until they’re properly tested and proven to be stable, I think), but if you can’t wait till then, then you can use following PPA provided by ‘Stefan Glasenhardt’ for that.

This only supports Intel i810 chipset and up. Others such as GMA 500 … are not supported. And also remember that, these are ‘hot’ updates and might contain bugs, so please use it at your own risk.

‘Stefan’ seems to be updating his PPA quite frequently (updates usually arrive within few days Intel has released them) which is why I prefer this PPA.

It holds packages for Ubuntu 10.04, 10.10, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot and 12.04 Precise Pangolin. But its the current release of Ubuntu (currently it’s ‘12.04 LTS’) that will receive the up-to-date drivers (as of writing this post it holds the ‘8.04’ version of the 3D package and version ‘2.20.2’ of the 2D package which were released only a few days ago). Other Ubuntu users will get older drivers (newer than the ones included by default in the OS anyway).

So, to install these Intel GPU drivers in Ubuntu, open your Terminal and enter the below commands.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:glasen/intel-driver

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-intel

Then reboot your PC to finish up the installation (if you know of another PPA that holds up-to-date packages for those older versions of Ubuntu, then you’re welcome to let me know).

Optional …

If you use Ubuntu 12.04, then you can enable the ‘SNA’ feature (disabled by default) of Intel Sandy Bridge architecture which improves both 2D and 3D performance. For that, enter the below command in your Terminal window to open the text editor with administrative privileges.

gksudo gedit

Then, copy and paste the below text content into text editor.

Section “Device”
Identifier “Card0″
Driver “intel”
Option “AccelMethod” “sna”
EndSection

Now, click on the ‘Save’ icon and rename it to ‘xorg.conf’ and save it in the ‘/etc/X11/’ location and close the text editor window. Now reboot your PC to apply the changes. That’s it.

If that gives you problems, then enter the below command and once opened removed the text that you entered above. Then save your changes and reboot your PC.

gksudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Oy, it crashes my OS!. How to downgrade it to the official packages?

Step 1:

Well it’s pretty simple actually. First have to remove the added repository. For that, use the below two commands.

sudo apt-add-repository --remove ppa:glasen/intel-driver

sudo apt-get update

Step 2: Then, before performing the downgrade, we gotta figure out the last official version of your package. For that, open your Terminal and enter the below command.

apt-cache showpkg xserver-xorg-video-intel

Step 3: Then have a look at the last three lines of the output you get. The one that’s listed just before the last line is the one that we need (the one that has ‘ppa’ in its name is the one that we manually installed and the one that has ‘1ubuntu …’ is the official one).

Now simply copy its name (highlighted in the below screenshot in Red) using your mouse.

Step 4: Then, enter the below command into the terminal and replace ‘2:2.17.0-1ubuntu4 ‘ with the one that you just copied.

sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-intel=2:2.17.0-1ubuntu4

Then press enter and confirm and it’ll downgrade to the one that was there before the manual installation. Again, to finish thing up, make sure to reboot your computer. That’s it, good luck.

4 thoughts on “How to Install latest Intel GPU drivers in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin?

  1. Cason

    Gayan, it said in the office Intel Linux Driver that backlight would be fixed–not what kind of fix but it didn’t help, my backlight switched back to full strength on reboot.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Yes, the official Intel driver also gave me few issues as well. So for now, it seems that it’s better to stay with what is given through Ubuntu :).

  2. Cason

    Update: Gayan, I have a workaround which might work for you since you also got Intel HD3000.

    In my case, upgrading to latest Intel driver and adding SNA to xorg.conf prevented me from booting up to Unity. I had to immediately “banging” on Shift key during bootup to access CLI and removed SNA. After SNA is removed, you should be able to login to Unity desktop again.

    For the fix, all you have to do is:

    1) Downgrade to the official 1ubuntu driver (for my case — 2:2.17.0-1ubuntu4.3)
    2) Restart
    3) Add SNA feature
    4) Restart (just to make sure) – is it neccessary?
    5) Update to latest Intel driver, then restart.
    6) Use the command to see if SNA is active: grep SNA /var/log/Xorg.0.log
    7) If it shows:

    cason@Casonade-U31SD-XH51:~$ grep SNA /var/log/Xorg.0.log
    [ 3.449] (II) intel(0): SNA initialized with SandyBridge backend
    cason@Casonade-U31SD-XH51:~$

    6) Voila! You are using SNA!

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