Ubuntu, efi booting and Nvidia

I have just set up a Ubuntu 12.10 workstation on a new motherboard (ASUS P8Z77 WS) which has efi instead of the traditional BIOS and installed a NVidia Quadro 600 graphics card.

You can ignore the efi and install your OS as standard if you want. The efi provides BIOS compatibility. However, that would be too easy!

efi booting

Getting the Ubuntu DVD to install in efi booting mode is easy. With the DVD in the drive the efi sees both a efi and regular version of the DVD. Just set the boot order to start with the efi version of the DVD, you get a text display with several options including one to install Ubuntu. At the end of the install Grub2 is installed and configured to support efi booting. You may need to update the efi firmware to get the newly installed Ubuntu to boot.

Nvidia drivers

There is some mention on the web that the nvidia drivers may not work with efi booting. If you rely on Ubuntu to do the correct thing when you apt-get install nvidia-current then you might think that is correct. However, after a bit of investigation, they work fine for me. The major problem is that the Nouveau display driver is getting control of the card before the nvidia one does. You can see which driver is loaded by using

lspci -v

You will get output like this (This example is after fixing things, the “Kernel driver in use” line shows nouveau by default)

04:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation GF108GL [Quadro 600] (rev a1) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
 Subsystem: NVIDIA Corporation Device 0835
 Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 16
 Memory at f6000000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16M]
 Memory at e8000000 (64-bit, prefetchable) [size=128M]
 Memory at f0000000 (64-bit, prefetchable) [size=32M]
 I/O ports at e000 [size=128]
 [virtual] Expansion ROM at f7000000 [disabled] [size=512K]
 Capabilities: <access denied>
 Kernel driver in use: nvidia
 Kernel modules: nvidia, nouveau, nvidiafb

You can remove the offending Xorg driver like this:

sudo apt-get --purge remove xserver-xorg-video-nouveau

However that doesn’t actually remove the nouveau kernel module. A quick fix is to:

sudo rm -rf /lib/modules/3.5.0-18-generic/kernel/drivers/gpu/drm/nouveau

and then rebuild the initramfs

sudo update-initramfs -u

This final command is important as it removes the offending driver from the boot ram disk.

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  1. Chris

    Hey Great post.

    I have been trying to get Ubuntu 12.10 x64 installed for a while now with no success on my ASUS P8Z77. How do you update the efi firmware? I have the latest bios, still no luck. Do you have any other tips?

  2. jad

    The efi firmware and BIOS are the same thing. In fact the BIOS doesn’t really exist (EFI emulates it). ASUS (and others) keep the term BIOS because people are used to it.

    My “BIOS” version (displayed when you press F2 during boot) is 3205.

    To get an efi aware install of ubuntu you need to ensure that the efi version of the install CD appears first in the boot sequence. (There may be other settings that force efi or BIOS that need to be set – I will check next time I reboot.

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