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Old 06-28-2008, 10:48 AM   #1
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Registered: Feb 2008
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Nvidia Riva TNT video card - which driver (Suse10.3 / 11.0)


I have an old Gateway G6-450 with an Nvidia Riva TNT graphics card.

I am very confused, and would appreciate some advise...

I'm currently running openSuse 10.3.

When I try to compile the Nvidia driver for this card

sh -q
followed by
sax2 -r -m 0=nvidia

everything appears to be "fine" when in GUI mode. However, the second I exit SAX2, my screen becomes a "mess" (all sorts of strange shapes, colors, etc).

As I mentioned, when I am in runlevel 5, the display appears to be ok (as well as during the initial boot of Suse 10.3, when pressing Escape for more information). During shutdown, the screen becomes a "mess" again.

When I use sax2 with 0=nv, I do not experience this issue.

Has anyone else experienced a similar problem? Should I be using the nvidia or nv driver? If the former, do I need to do any "tweaking" to fix the runlevel 3 problem?

This leads me to my next problem... I am trying to update to Suse 11.0. However, no matter what display mode I choose (except for Text & VESA, which provide text that reminds me of a VIC-20), I have a similar problem as mentioned above -- I cannot read the screen due to weird shapes & colors on it. This occurs no matter what option I choose from the Suse 11 menu (I cannot even perform a media check).

When I select a menu option, I get a progress bar of "Loading Kernal", followed by really big text (I don't recall exactly what the text reads), followed by the "messed-up" screen.

From what I can tell, it appears that Opensuse11 is using some sort of NVidia graphics driver that is incompatible with the RIVA TNT card.

Any thoughts on how I can "force" the nv driver (for example) when trying to install Suse11 ?

I realize that this post could have been posted in a number of forums (Hardware, etc), but I didn't know which category it would best fit.


Old 06-29-2008, 06:06 AM   #2
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If SuSE has normal installer options like other distributions have, it should allow you to install it in text mode too. That way you'll get past the graphics driver problem, and after setup you can log in (in text mode, if graphics don't work all right) and modify Xorg configuration to use 'nv' driver if 'nvidia' does not work.

I'd say upgrade your graphics card (older GeForce cards don't cost more than candy nowadays, if you find them), that might help. Though if the hardware is that old and you don't want to spend any extra money, TNT cards should work all right too..but since they're so old, what's the problem with using 'nv' instead of 'nvidia'? I take it you can't run too heavy 3d hardware accelarated software anyway, so what's the point in trying to use a driver the purpose of which is to provide 3d hardware accelaration? After all, the 'nv' driver does provide everything needed for "normal" daily use - no hardware 3d accelaration, of course, but with that card it doesn't mean much anyway.

I've found that even thoug the graphics drivers can be installed by downloading the file from their website and running it, it often works better if the distribution provides a package or a special tool to install the drivers - sort of like the .deb file on Debian that installs the driver, or better yet, Restricted Drivers Manager on Ubuntu that deals with proprietary drivers of that sort without any pains (that I know of). Not sure if SuSE offers a similar approach (allowing you to install the driver by installing a package from the package manager rather than doing it manually, making upgrading the driver a pain too), but you should check it out..

I'd just stick to the 'nv' driver with that card. If you need anything beyond it, consider spending a few coins on a slightly newer GeForce, for example. No need for it to be the newest&hottest, but it wouldn't hurt if it was newer.
Old 06-30-2008, 09:10 AM   #3
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Registered: Feb 2008
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Thanks for your reply.

I did a "live" update to openSuse 11.0 because of the graphics issue that I mentioned above (and yes, the problem was also there in text mode).

The "live" update worked -- but now I cannot boot to runlevel 3, nor does the boot screen (even ESC for more information) display properly -- I have all of the "garbage" that I mentioned above.

Once the X server starts, everything appears to be fine.

I am using the "nv" driver. It appears that something must have changed with the new kernel... I'm sure that I'll eventually find a work-around.

The hardware is 10 years old ("state of the art" when purchased) -- quite frankly, I am a little disappointed that I'm having so many difficulties with 11.0 -- it almost seems as though support for older hardware has been abandoned.

I'm planning on buying a new machine soon, and have no plans on buying a new video card for an obsolete CPU.
Old 07-04-2008, 04:10 PM   #4
Registered: Apr 2006
Distribution: sabayon, opensuse
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If you install Nvidia driver rpms in Yast there are two versions for each kernel, one version marked "G01" for the more recent cards and the other one for older cards.
Then as usual "init 3" and "sax2 -r". Any luck?
Old 07-05-2008, 12:05 PM   #5
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no luck -- it just appears that this version, unfortunately, isn't intended to work with 10-year old hardware... :-(
Old 07-05-2008, 12:19 PM   #6
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I had one of those video cards, and was never able to get it working properly. A low-end geForce 5K series board costs very little, and it works fine. That was my solution. Just not worth the hassle to fight it.
--- rod.
Old 07-12-2008, 04:32 PM   #7
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Registered: Feb 2008
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Here is an update.

I have come to the conclusion that the kernel or Grub boot loader (probably the former) is not properly detecting my video card.

I was playing with the nVidia legacy drivers -- more specifically, the ones for the GeoForce, just to see what would happen if I installed them.

When the X server started, I had the same "garbage" on my screen that I had during the openSuSE boot. (I had the hardest time reverting my system back to using the nv driver, so I could at least use the system in X).

Is there a boot option that you can use to tell the kernel which video driver to use when the X server is NOT running? Methinks that the kernel is seeing my video card as a GeoForce, thus the "garbage" issues.

Also, I was looking in Yast2 at the PCI ID Setup in System Settings. Is there anything that I can change in there that will force the kernel to use a different driver for the video card?

Once again, I am using a Riva TNT video card, vintage 1998. I am not looking on dumping any money into this system. Just looking for a way to tell the Kernel, when NOT running X, to use a specific video driver for its text (and Splash screen) display.

Thank you
Old 07-13-2008, 04:36 PM   #8
Registered: Apr 2006
Distribution: sabayon, opensuse
Posts: 56

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Re your initial post:

>When I try to compile the Nvidia driver for this card
>sh -q
>followed by
>sax2 -r -m 0=nvidia
>everything appears to be "fine" when in GUI mode. However, the second I exit SAX2, my screen becomes a "mess" (all >sorts of strange shapes, colors, etc).

The NVIDIA-blabla script will eventually write your x-config file, so do not touch sax2 after runngin the NVIDIA scritp
BTW, I always execute the NVIDIA script w/o the -q (no idea what q does)
Old 07-13-2008, 11:14 PM   #9
LQ Newbie
Registered: Dec 2006
Posts: 23

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nvidia-installer patch

I had to run this patch to compile a suitable module for my kernel. Not sure if that helps. I have what is detected as a Vanta/Vanta LT. I want GLX/Composite support, I don't care if it's slow but the combination doesn't seem to work.


garbled, nv, nvidia

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