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How to Install or Upgrade Mesa Drivers on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

With the release of modern graphics cards, it’s easy to forget that before they were standard in most gaming laptops and consoles – there was Mesa. The open-source software implementation translates API specifications into vendor-specific drivers so you can use high-end applications with your PC even if it has older hardware!

Most Linux distributions feature Mesa drivers, given they are free and open-source before any proprietary drivers options, however for most Linux distributions that focus on stability first, you may find your Mesa drivers needing an update when new releases support newer graphic card hardware and technologies.

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to upgrade or install Mesa Drivers on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS with two PPA options that support Intel, Radeon, NVIDIA ect.

Update Ubuntu System

Before you begin, make sure your Ubuntu desktop is up-to-date using the following command.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Install Dependecies

The easiest way to find out your Mesa drivers for the tutorial is to install the following utility package.

sudo apt install mesa-utils -y

The above package will be used further in the tutorial.

Determine Mesa Drivers Version

Before proceeding with installing or upgrading your Mesa drivers on your Ubuntu system using any of the two options in the tutorial, first, you should check what you are currently running using the following command.

glxinfo | grep "OpenGL version"

Example output:

Install/Upgrade Mesa Drivers (Radeon, Nvidia) on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

As the above screenshot example, the tutorial machine is running version 21.2.6 drivers, which is relatively recent still even for the Ubuntu default repository.

Install/Upgrade Mesa Drivers – oibaf/graphics-drivers

The first option is to install the Oibaf PPA that has been around since 2010/11 and is well known in the community. The mesa drivers are purely open-source free drivers and provide updated free graphics drivers packages for Radeon, Intel, and Nvidia hardware.

Import the PPA using the following terminal command.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers -y

Now run an apt update to reflect the new addition.

sudo apt update

During the update, you should notice multiple updates now appear to upgrade your Mesa drivers.

To begin the process of upgrading, run the following command.

sudo apt upgrade -y

Example:

Install/Upgrade Mesa Drivers (Radeon, Nvidia) on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Next, re-check your Mesa driver’s version using the following.

glxinfo | grep "OpenGL version"

Example output:

Install/Upgrade Mesa Drivers (Radeon, Nvidia) on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

As above, you have upgraded your drivers successfully; you have gone from v21.2.6 to v22.1.0.

Remove Oibaf PPA Drivers

For users that wish to revert from using the upgrade PPA drivers, first install the PPA purge package.

sudo apt install ppa-purge -y

Next, remove the PPA using the PPA-PURGE command to remove all installations that occurred using this repository.

sudo ppa-purge ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers -y

And that is it, and you have reverted to your original drivers.

Install/Upgrade Mesa Drivers – kisak-mesa/fresh or kisak-stable

The second alternative is installing kisak-mesa drivers who have equally been doing drivers similar to oibaf’s PPA. The excellent choice for users is that you have two options, the first is stable, which containers drivers that new but not bleeding edge, and fresh, which contains drivers that are bleeding edge just like oibaf’s PPA.

Import the PPA using the following terminal command.

ONLY IMPORT ONE PPA TO UPGRADE MESA DRIVERS ONLY, DO NOT IMPORT BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.

Import kisak-fresh

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kisak/kisak-mesa -y

Import kisak-stable:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kisak/kisak-turtle -y

Now run an apt update to reflect the new addition.

sudo apt update

During the update, you should notice multiple updates now appear to upgrade your Mesa drivers.

To begin the process of upgrading, run the following command.

sudo apt upgrade -y

Example (kisak-fresh upgrade):

Install/Upgrade Mesa Drivers (Radeon, Nvidia) on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Next, re-check your Mesa driver’s version using the following.

glxinfo | grep Mesa

Example output:

Install/Upgrade Mesa Drivers (Radeon, Nvidia) on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

As above, you have upgraded your drivers successfully from v21.2.6 to v21.3.6.

Remove kisak PPA Drivers

For users that wish to revert from using the upgrade PPA drivers, first install the PPA purge package.

sudo apt install ppa-purge -y

Next, remove the PPA using the PPA-PURGE command to remove all installations that occurred using this repository.

Remove kisak-fresh

sudo ppa-purge ppa:kisak/kisak-mesa -y

Remove kisak-stable:

sudo ppa-purge ppa:kisak/kisak-turtle -y

And that is it, and you have reverted to your original drivers.

Conclusion and Comments

In the tutorial, you have learned how to install and upgrade your Mesa drivers on your Ubuntu 20.04 LTS desktop. Overall, oibaf is ahead using the development version, but both kisak’s PPA may be more stable. Luckily removing and re-install either is quick and easy.

Most users would benefit from installing updated mesa drivers, but using the stable release from Ubuntu would be more ideal for workstations. Secondly, serious Linux gamers would want to install AMD Pro and NVIDIA drivers as sometimes the Mesa drivers do not cut it.



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