Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Distribution: OpenSuse 11.3
X server is the program that draws your desktop - the GUI programs connect to it and issue request like "Draw a button at XY" and "Notify me when button is clicked". In short - you need a new driver module. Your desktop looks ugly, because missing proper driver, X loads a generic driver, which is largely not hardware accelerated. The drivers are specific to the kernel that uses them, so when you change the kernel, you need new driver. Not so different from Windows though, there you also have drivers for 98/Me, NT and Vista. Look in the repository for the nvidia driver matching your new kernel, there should be. If there is, install it and restart at least your X server (Press Ctrl-Alt-Backspace), or better, do a full reboot. If there aren't a precompiled driver, then you have to go the hard way (well, not so hard). Particularly for nVidia, go to nvidia.com and download the driver for your VC model and architecture (x86 or 64). It comes packaged in installer, which does the compilation, putting the module in place and reconfiguring the X server. Unfortunately, as X uses the video card, the nvidia installer will abort the installation if X is running. So, you have to go in console mode. That's a little above "complete newbye", so a little theory before step-by-step guide. The system has several so called "run levels", in which different services are started. Much like Windows's "Normal", "Safe mode", "Safe mode with network"... Besides, Linux has the concept of Virtual Terminals - sharing the screen among different login sessions. Conventionally, first 6 of them are used for console login, from the 7th above - for the X servers (yes, you can have more than one running, with different configuration, user, etc. if you want. For example, I start separate X with more lightweight config on the next VT when I play a game with a heavy 3D) You can switch between the VTs with a hotkey - Alt-F1...Fn, when you are in console mode, or Ctrl-Alt-Fn, when you are in graphical desktop. Usually, in runlevel 3, the system starts services for console sessions, and in 5 - it starts the X server and shows a graphical login screen. Most modern distros boot in 5 by default. So, now step-by-step:
1) go to nvidia.com, and download the driver package
2) still at the driver download page, READ the README.
3) to compile the driver, you'll need a compiler and the kernel header files. Install the packages "gcc" (GNU Compiler Collection) and "kernel-source"/"kernel-headers"/kernel-devel", i don't know exactly how it's named in Fedora, in my distro it's "kernel-source". Look for the version numbers, they must match the version of your kernel.
4) press Аlt-F1...F6 to switch to some of the text-mode VTs. You'll see login prompt - login as "root"
5) type the command "init 3", to switch to runlevel 3
6) "cd" to the directory where you downloaded the driver package
7) run command: "sh NVIDIA-Installer....."
8) follow the instructions...
10) if something went wrong, post what it is