No Cursor in Ubuntu 11.04 with a Legacy Nvidia Card

I tried to revive an old laptop by installing Ubuntu on it. I first tried Lubuntu, a lightweight distro of Ubuntu. The installation ran smoothly. However, when the system came up, the cursor was gone. I could still use the mouse, but there was no cursor. It was really annoying, as I can barely work without a working cursor.

I tried a lot of different stuff and finally decided to install the official Ubuntu 11.04. That did not work either.

Finally, I found a solution. The problem with the missing cursor is a bug of the nouveau driver. You can install the latest Nvidia driver to fix it, if your Nvidia card is supported. Mine is an old card, and it was not supported by the latest driver. What worked for me was simply uninstalling the nouveau driver. Here is what I did.

  1. Switch to the console by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F1.
  2. Stop the X server by using this command in Ubuntu. If you use Lubuntu, replace gdm with lxdm.
    sudo service gdm stop
  3. Uninstall the nouveau driver.
    sudo apt-get --purge remove xserver-xorg-video-nouveau
  4. Reboot the machine.

Note that this would let you use a generic video card driver. It works, but the performance is not great. As an alternative, you can visit the Nvidia Linux page and see if there is an updated driver for your card.

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