Does the hardware on your Ubuntu system need proprietary drivers work at peak performance?  Today we take a look how easy version 10.04 makes it to install them.

Ubuntu 10.04 finally automatically recognizes and installs drivers for most hardware today, it even recognized and configured Wi-Fi drivers correctly every time in our tests.  This is in contrast to the past, when it was often difficult to get hardware to work in Linux.  However, most video cards still need proprietary drivers from their manufacturer to get full hardware video acceleration.

Even though Ubuntu doesn’t include any non-open source components, it still makes it easy to install proprietary drivers if you wish.  When you first install and boot into Ubuntu, you may see a popup informing you that “restricted” drivers are available.

You may see a notification asking you if you’d like to install optional drivers from your graphics card manufacturer when you try to enable advanced desktop effects.  Click Enable to directly install the drivers right there.

Or, you can select the tray icon from the first popup, and click Install drivers.

Alternately, if the tray icon has disappeared, click System, then Administration, and select Hardware Drivers.


This will open a dialog showing all the proprietary drivers available for your system, which may include drivers for your video card and other hardware depending on your computer.  Select the driver you wish to install, and click Activate.

Enter your password, and then Ubuntu will download and install the driver without any more input.  After installation you may be prompted to reboot your system.

Now, you should be able to take full advantage of your hardware, including fancy desktop effects with hardware acceleration.

If you ever wish to remove these drivers, simply re-open the drivers dialog as above, select the driver, and click Remove.  Once again, a reboot may be required to finish the process.


Ubuntu has definitely made it easier to use Linux on your desktop computer, no matter what hardware you have.  If your video card or other hardware require proprietary drivers, it makes them available and simple to install.  And, best of all, all of your drivers stay updated with your software updates, so you can be sure you’re always running the latest.

Matthew Guay
Matthew Guay is a veteran app reviewer and technology tip writer. His work has appeared on Zapier's blog, AppStorm, Envato Tuts+, and his own blog, Techinch.
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