Hardware Drivers

Jockey is the default drivers manager for Ubuntu. (Some computer hardware cannot work properly without drivers; drivers take advantage of the hardware and optimize performance.) In 7.10 Gutsy, Ubuntu used an old program called "restricted-drivers-manager" but with 8.04, it has suddenly moved to "jockey." One can assume by the interface that it was based off of Restricted Drivers Manager, but intended to be better. Well it sucked. The one stuck with 8.04 just sucks. I had trouble for a few days trying to enable my Broadcom wireless card and I had to constantly refresh the first page of the Ubuntu Forums -> Networking & Wireless to see if anybody responded to my help request. But with 8.10, a whole new era has begun.

The devs have really done something, the new Jockey looks twice as better than the one in Hardy! There's a more profound "Activate" button, a description of each hardware, and the source for the driver! And of course, the support for automatic driver download for printers, when necessary (though I don't have a printer and can't demonstrate that now.) There's also a "Tested by the Ubuntu developers" for reliability and a "License" for all those curious. Nonetheless, it's still bad at offline managing. (Not saying that manual DEB installs won't work. But from my experiences, after I installed the package b43-fwcutter (a driver for my Broadcom wireless card), Jockey tried over and over to download it from the Internet, but wouldn't let me manually extract the wl_apasta.o file locally.)

For those who would like to try out the new Jockey in 8.04, run these commands in the Terminal:
  • sudo aptitude remove jockey-gtk jockey-qt
  • wget http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu/pool/main/x/x-kit/python-xkit_0.3.6_all.deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/j/jockey/jockey-common_0.5~beta3-0ubuntu4_all.deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/j/jockey/jockey-gtk_0.5~beta3-0ubuntu4_all.deb
  • sudo dpkg -i python-xkit_0.3.6_all.deb jockey-common_05~beta3-0ubuntu4_all.deb jockey-gtk_05~beta3-0ubuntu4_all.deb
  • If you run KDE (after running above instructions): wget http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/j/jockey/jockey-kde_0.5~beta3-0ubuntu4_all.deb && sudo dpkg -i jockey-kde_0.5~beta3-0ubuntu4_all.deb
Now go to System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers and check it out!

  • 10/03/08: Added new version of Jockey to the install instructions for Hardy; it has lots and lots of changes.
  • 10/06/08: Another update for Jockey. And also fixed the error in the DEB install step. Updated screenshot with correct default theme and the new version that comes with new icons. But seriously, the new icons suck. They should have just stuck to drawing the theme from the default system icon theme. It looks so unintegrated now.
  • 10/13/08: Another and another release. Updated install instructions for 8.04.
  • 10/14/08: Wow, one more. I keep messing up the install instructions. Fixed now.
  • 10/16/08: Will it ever stop? Beta 3 got in.
  • 10/17/08: I'm literally on the verge of tearing my hair out. After weeks of indevelopment, Jockey is suddenly sprinting up and releasing new versions every two days. Beta 3 Ubuntu 2.
  • 10/18/08: No comment. Beta 3 Ubuntu 3.
  • 10/24/08: Progress slowing. Beta 3 Ubuntu 4.


  1. Do you mean that it won't accept offline installed drivers? Because that's a dealbreaker for me. I use too many computers offline with Ubuntu to not have driver support.

  2. No that's not it. If you install an offline DEB file, it will still work. The problem I had is just that after installing b43-fwcutter.deb, I couldn't extract the wl_apasta.o file locally without the use of the command line or by downloading directly from the Internet.

  3. Oh, I see. Okay, that's fine. ;) I guess I misunderstood.

    I've been looking at the blog for a bit; looks good.

  4. Wow... thanks... I always wanted a way to remove the 'lame' hardware driver program from administrator's list...

    Now I have none...

    now what?

  5. Err, what?

    If the menu item disappeared, you can always run the command "jockey-gtk" or "/usr/bin/jockey-gtk".

    If it won't start, and you run it from the Terminal to get any error outputs, and it says it's missing "glib" or something, run "sudo gedit /usr/bin/jockey-gtk" and erase the word "glib" after the word "import".

  6. Oh, now I know. I messed up the install instructions, so the packages got removed, but didn't install. Run them again. It's updated with the latest version and should work.

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