Mandriva: no 3D effects with Nvidia GeForce 6800GT card

Q I have successfully installed Mandriva Linux 2007 and am trying to enable 3D desktop effects. When I click on the 3D icon under Configure Your Computer/Hardware, everything is greyed out, with a message at the top saying 'Your System does not support 3D desktop effects'. I have an Nvidia GeForce 6800GT, which ran perfectly with Mandriva 2006. What can I do to get the 3D desktop working?

A The most likely cause of this is that you are using the free nv driver for your graphics card. This driver does not support any sort of 3D acceleration - you need Nvidia's own drivers for that. These can be downloaded from www.nvidia.com as a single file that you run to install them. However, you will need several other packages installed before you can do this. At the very least you will need the kernel sources to match your running kernel. Mandriva no longer includes these on its DVDs, so you will need to add Mandriva's online repository to the Mandriva Control Center before you can install it. You may also need a compiler installed. The Nvidia installer comes with precompiled modules for a few kernel variants, but compiles them on the fly for others.

Once the drivers are installed, you will have to edit your X configuration to use the new drivers. The Nvidia installer requires that you do all of this without X running, working entirely from a virtual console. Fortunately, there is a much easier way. The Penguin Liberation Front (PLF) is the "official unofficial" repository for Mandriva, containing a number of non-free (as in speech) packages and others that cannot be included in the main distro because of legal complications; such as libdvdcss, needed to watch encrypted DVDs. The first step to easy Mandriva software installation is to add this and the official Mandriva repositories to your system. Go to http://easyurpmi.zarb.org and select suitable mirrors for the Mandriva and PLF sources; those closest to you are usually best. Click on Proceed and it will display a screed of text for you to type in a terminal, but even that is easy.

Open a terminal from the Mandriva menu with System > Terminals > Konsole and type su to become root, then drag your mouse over the text in the browser so that all of the text in the box, and nothing else, is highlighted. Now place the mouse over the terminal window, press its middle button to paste in the highlighted text and press Enter. You'll need to be online to do this and it will take a few minutes as it downloads lists of available packages. Now fire up the Mandriva Control Center (System > Configuration > Configure Your Computer), go to the software section and type 'nvidia' in the search box. Select the package (it is currently nvidia-8774-4plf but the numbers may change as the 9000 drivers could be out by the time you read this), and click Apply.

If any other packages are needed, they will be installed automatically - you only need to select the one package. Finally, go into the Hardware > Graphical Server section of the Control Center and select the Nvidia option for your graphics card. When you reboot you will be using Nvidia's drivers in all their 3D glory and you will be able to set up the 3D desktop effects. Have fun!

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