Howto Get the Best Performace from the GMA 500 Video Chipset

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Author Note:- Im Modifying these procedures and Including New steps, and tweaks that have been proven to work thus far. This should work for any system having a GMA500 Video Chipset. Although it was written using a Dell Mini 10.
Credit goes to sammyboy405 user in Ubuntu forums.If you want more fixes and updates on this check this ubuntuforum thread

Before Starting this Make sure you have the Latest Kernel. As of right now its .15 But if there is one Higher Make sure you have it before performing the steps below.

First lets check to make sure you have the latest Kernel version before we proceed.

From the Terminal run the following command

uname -a

This will display your Kernel version. If it is or Higher You are done. And continue down below. If it is not then do the following steps

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade


go back into a terminal

uname -a

Make sure your Upgrade happened. If it did and you want to get rid of your old Kernel you can do

sudo apt-get autoremove

Once you have latest kernel in place follow this procedure

Add this to your repository

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu-mobile.list

add these 2 lines

deb jaunty main
deb-src jaunty main

Save and exit

Now you need to authenticate the keys

gpg --keyserver --search-keys ubuntu-mobile

Press 1 and Enter

gpg -a --output /tmp/pub.asc --export C6598A30

sudo apt-key add /tmp/pub.asc && rm /tmp/pub.asc

Now that your Ubuntu-Mobile Key is added do the Following.

The Following Packages need to be Installed Most are Dependences.

* psb-firmware -- Binary firmware for the Poulsbo (psb) 3D X11 driver
* psb-modules -- Kernel module built for -generic or -lpia kernel
* psb-kernel-source -- Kernel module for the Poulsbo (psb) 2D X11 driver
* psb-kernel-headers -- Kernel module headers for the Poulsbo (psb) 2D X11 driver
* xpsb-glx -- X11 drivers for Poulsbo (psb) 3D acceleration
* poulsbo-driver-3d -- Metapackage for the 3D Poulsbo (psb) X11 driver.
* poulsbo-driver-2d -- Metapackage for the 2D Poulsbo (psb) X11 driver.

From a Terminal run the following commands

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install poulsbo-driver-2d poulsbo-driver-3d psb-firmware

Reboot your system

Make sure you have NO USB devices Hooked up as this will cause conflicting results with the poulsbo-driver-3d drivers. (see fix below for stability)

Once rebooted open a terminal and make a back up of your xorg.conf file.(fresh install may have a null xorg.conf file this is normal and ok)

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.bak

Open up your xorg.conf and add the below contents inside it.

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Make the Section "Device" Look like this :

Section "Device"
Identifier      "Configured Video Device"
Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
Option "DRI" "off"
Option "MigrationHeuristic" "greedy"

(Optional) add the following to the bottom of your xorg.conf file this will allow you to be able to do a CTRL+ALT+Backspace to restart your GUI/X11 session.

Section "ServerFlags"
Option  "DontZap"       "False"

Reboot one last time and you should be rocking and rolling. Now what this did is allow the 3d Drivers to be installed and are in Partial use. Compiz and any other 3d Software "May" Not work I haven't 100% tested it. But modifying your xorg.conf with the above setting will allow you to be able to use External USB Devices with out random freezes.

If you have a fresh install you may need to recheck your xorg.conf file after you reboot as when the xserver configures itself it may put back the default settings. Those that had xserver setup before hand you should be fine. But if you feel that something isnt right, you may want to go and check your xorg.conf file again and be sure that the options are still there.

Leave out the xorg.conf if you don't plan on using anything USB. Although since your keyboard / touch-pad is technically USB I still had random Freezes Have 3d Enabled.

So I Highly Recommend using my xorg.conf example. I have had great success with it.

For those who are getting DRM errors after Upgrading from / to a new Kernel after doing the Old Procedures I had listed here do the following.

sudo apt-get install psb-kernel-source

Reboot and then you should be good to go again. You may want to add the 3d to give you some extra performance. If so just start from the top of this message and start from the beginning like you where installing for the first time. and that should do the trick.

Working with compiz and 3D effects

Open A Terminal

sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

You should find a line that looks like this (your root UUID and kernel version will/may vary)

kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.28-14-generic root=UUID=c34d1d57-59d3-4f6f-abc1-fd83aea4 ro quiet splash

Change it to this (bold is to emphasize what needs changing)

kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.28-14-generic root=UUID=c34d1d57-59d3-4f6f-abc1-fd83aea4 ro quiet nosplash mem=786mb

This tells grub to force the kernel to recognize only 786mb of the installed 1GB, leaving 238mb free for the graphics adapter to use. The “nosplash” option prevents any sexy graphics being displayed during boot.

Now for Compiz.

sudo gedit /usr/bin/compiz

Look for the following line

WHITELIST=”nvidia intel ati radeon i810 fglrx”

Change it to this:

WHITELIST=”psb nvidia intel ati radeon i810 fglrx”

Now your going to need to edit a line in your xorg.conf file. Doing this will allow for 3d effects.

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

add the following line

Option "IgnoreACPI" "yes"

Save and exit the file

Now Reboot.

Once Rebooted

click System -> Preferences -> Appearance and click the Visual Effects tab. I chose “Normal” just to get things started.

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10 Responses

  1. Anonymous-coward says:

    UXA gives better performance than EXA.

  2. Psycho Game says:

    Is this method only working on the GMA 500, or has anybody tested if these changes also have effect on other Intel graphics cards?

    Psycho Game

  3. Psycho Game says:

    Sorry to bother, everybody can just ignore my question before.
    I already found an answer at phoronix.

    Psycho Game

  4. Hello there .. I recently bought a dell mini 12 on which I installed kubuntu 9.04 .. I followed this tutorial but after I ran

    sudo apt-get install poulsbo-driver-2d poulsbo-driver-3d psb-firmware

    I pressed restart but a black screen was showing and the machine didn’t restart at all .. then after booting once again I still see a black screen .. also there was a problem in autheticating the keys related to the previous steps .. where did I go wrong ?

  5. plonstic says:

    Mohammed Abbas > You must set the xorg.conf file

  6. Alright, I found a script somewhere helped me install the drivers correctly .. many thanks ..

  7. admin says:

    For Karmic Users try this

    Simplified GMA-500/Poulsbo drivers installation:

    Install Ubuntu, reboot into recovery mode and use one of the following script:

    1) FTP-based (no ppa repositories):

    wget && sh ./


    2) PPA-based (UbuntuMobile & Milone):

    wget && sh ./

  8. Rob says:

    I had a headache getting my dell mini 10 (model 1010) working-now working well with compiz and smoother video than windows (HD video only currently working smoothly in bursts). these are my tips:

    – install ubuntu 9.10

    – do all the updates

    – *don’t* install ubuntu-restricted-extras (I have a feeling this was causing me problems)

    – reboot in recovery mode (I’m currently on kernel 20). You may need a wired net connection at this point to avoid faffing with wifi stuff

    – run this (from above): wget && sh ./

    – sudo reboot

    should all work. mplayer will moan about not having codecs-let it automatically install them and restart mplayer. I’m hoping this will work for all other videos I have.


    – compiz works fine but disable it for smooth video playback by typing: metacity –replace & (sometimes goes wrong if too many windows open). To re-enable compiz type: compiz –replace &

    I tried freeing more memory for the graphics by editing /boot/grub/grub.cfg (karmic uses grub2 so hopefully sussed correctly that I found the right config file). I added mem=900mb to the boot line (see previous in thread) but it didn’t improve performance.

    On previous attempts on older kernels a kernel upgrade killed the graphics driver. So beware of kernel updates (I could still boot OK by selecting the previous kernel though).

    I got nowhere with Ubuntu 10.04 beta using the above methods (1st April 2010)

    I hope Intel sort this out soon – this rubbish is wasting good people time that they should be spending on true improvements to linux..

  9. Rob says:

    the wget command I just put in my post has been partially automatically hyperlinked – just copy/paste the full command from wget to the end of the line (its the same command as in the previous post anyway)

  10. Theo Bub says:

    Hi folks, running into trouble doing this, I am stuck at the first reboot after installing the drivers via apt. After the reboot the screen goes black and I can’t even get a console.
    Trying to make it work on a Vaio VGN-P630A on ubuntu 10.04.

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