Black screen in Ubuntu 11.10 with Nvidia

Ok, so you have a computer with Nvidia graphics card.  You download Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot and install it. All goes well. Then you reboot into your new Ubuntu installation and …after initial boot messages you end up staring at a black screen. You do not get into the GUI, the X11 does not start.

Now, press Ctrl+Alt+F1 to get to the shell prompt in text mode. Log in. Type “startx” and see the messages. Whatever the reason for failure, it will help you diagnose the problem.

Do you see something like this?

FATAL: Module nvidia_173 not found.
(EE) NVIDIA(0): Failed to load the NVIDIA kernel module!
(EE) NVIDIA(0):  *** Aborting ***
(EE) Screen(s) found, but none have a usable configuration.

Fatal server error:
no screens found

Here is the solution:

1. Remove the existing Nvidia driver:

  sudo apt-get --purge remove nvidia
  sudo apt-get --purge remove nvidia-current

(actually you need only one of those commands, but as we do not know which one exactly, just do both)

2. Reboot.

3. Reinstall the driver. Pay attention to have “–reinstall” in the command, it is important!

sudo apt-get install --reinstall nvidia-173

4. Try to launch the X11 by typing


or just reboot.


10 Comments on “Black screen in Ubuntu 11.10 with Nvidia”

  1. Thanks buddy! This is freakin awesome -you saved me so much time!

  2. ~e says:

    I have the same issue (blank screen upon booting). I ended up restoring my 11.04 system, but I will eventually like to upgrade. However, unlike you folks, I am not running Nvidia. I have an ATI (some 6550 variant). If I remove the nvidia drivers, is there still a method to startx in order to complete installing the ATI drivers? Barring that, any ideas what the terminal command is for installing the ATI drivers?

    Thanks for this post. At least I now have an idea of how to isolate the problem. 🙂

    • crcok says:

      You are welcome!

      As soon as I got to see the new changes to Ubuntu user interface I dropped it and returned to my 10.10.
      Maybe there is no reason to upgrade to 11.10 after all…

      Can’t help you with the ATI though. Maybe somebody else has an idea.

  3. Gedvan says:

    Thank you so much for the tip! I had the same problem and I’m browsing now from the command line, with the Links2 web browser 🙂
    I just did the commands. Now I’m going to restart and I hope it works.

  4. Randy M says:

    Nothing worked for me on Nvidia 4200m till I turned off Optimus in the BIOS. Just wanted to share that info in case others are having the same issue.

  5. Mark Wilson says:

    Thanks so much, this has taken me from seriously screwed with a blank screen, to step 2 of being screwed, which I presume is a little less screwed 🙂

    So I tried running startx (Lubuntu 11.10 on a Dell Inspiron 8100, btw) and it wasn’t installed, so I used get-apt to install it. Then I tried uninstalling the nvidia drivers and the computer told me they weren’t installed. Ok, no sweat, I just went and installed via your instructions. Presto! Then when I rebooted, I not only get the Dell splash screen, but the Ubuntu splash screen as well, which I didn’t get before. Then, nothing… just a black screen with a flashing cursor. (Which admittedly wasn’t there before, so see, progress!) Do I need to be a little more patient at this point and give the cpu much longer to load, or is there something I’m missing? Thanks so much!

    • crcok says:

      That’s indeed some progress. One small step at a time. 🙂
      I am sorry that I can not help you further, as my knowledge is limited to what I already had described.

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