Mageia 2 upgrade + legacy Nvidia 96xx Graphic Card = Trouble

Mageia 2 is out! Updated packages, new versions for pretty much everything! A long time Linux user, from Mandrake to Mandriva, I made the switch to Mageia pretty much as soon as it was made available, on both my personal desktop and laptop.

After upgrading to Mageia 1 on my old desktop, I ran into some problems with the nvidia drivers. (Note: if you run into a problem with GNU/Linux, talk about it. In my case, I sent a bug report. Mageia 1 included Xorg 1.10, which was not yet supported by the legacy nvidia96xx drivers I needed to use for the old GeForce 4 Ti 4200 that was in there. The support from the mageia QAs, developers and packager was great. Since I’m not using my desktop PC so much anymore, I was fine with reverting to the “nv” driver for a while, and as soon as NVIDIA released new proprietary 96xx drivers, they got pushed to the “Updates Testing” repository, and shortly afterwards, to the official Updates repository.

When Mageia 2 came out, I first upgraded my personal laptop using the live update method. It went rather smoothly, and the system seemed pretty stable. I also checked the errata, and didn’t see anything too bad. I figured I could safely update my desktop too, right? But after all this time, I forgot to check the Xorg+nvidia driver compatibility…

And once again, the latest version of Xorg is not compatible with the NVIDIA 96xx drivers. So after the update, I got a “Command prompt surprise” basically indicating that X failed to start.

Checking mageia’s repository, I saw that the nvidia96xx package had been removed. So the QA did know that the driver wouldn’t work. And inspecting the xorg.conf file told me that the distro tried to upgrade me to the nouveau driver, which is also a good approach (without knowing that it is not exactly working with my card, I still have to check whether I should report the issue to the nouveau team or the gnome team…)

So I went back to using the legacy ‘nv’ driver for a while, and I’ll wait for new NVIDIA 96xx drivers to be released (one can only hope…).

But all this could have been easily avoided:

  1. Knowing I had problems with Mageia 1, I should have thought about checking which X version was included in Mageia 2, and check the NVIDIA proprietary driver’s status.
  2. Or I could have burned one of the LiveCD images. I would immediately have seen the display issues, warning me not to upgrade yet…