Video Drivers Howto

Since distro-provided driver binaries aren't really an option when using a custom kernel, it's necessary to do things the vendor way. Thankfully, this typically provides better results than precompiled binaries anyway. On true Debian distros1), I recommend sgfxi for easy video driver installation. sgfxi will automatically identify your video hardware, grab the very latest working driver from the appropriate site, patch it against your kernel if necessary, build it and install it neatly. Installing it is also exceedingly simple.

Installing sgfxi

First, get root:

su -

Then download sgfxi to a place in your path:

wget -O /usr/local/sbin/sgfxi

Next, make the script executable:

chmod +x /usr/local/sbin/sgfxi

Finally, run it:


Running sgfxi via sudo

In my case, I prefer to run common maintenance tasks with sudo rather than needing to drop to root each time. In that case, you'd simply give yourself sudo rights to run sgfxi:

Get root:

su -

Edit the sudoers file using 'visudo':


…then add something like the following line:

%video  ALL=/usr/local/sbin/sgfxi

That would give sudo access to recompile the video drivers to any user belonging to the 'video' system group. If you only wanted your own user account to have sudo rights to run sgfxi, you could drop the % and replace 'video' with your own username. Once finished, save the file and exit. Visudo will inform you if you've made a syntax error. Next, drop root privileges, you don't need them anymore:


From now on, you can run sgfxi via sudo from your normal user account:

sudo sgfxi
1) Probably won't work on Ubuntu, Mint, or other Ubuntu-based distros.
howto/video.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/26 14:01 (external edit)
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