Linux Mint 18.1 + i915: Updating the Intel Graphics stack

This post was written by eli on February 4, 2017
Posted Under: Linux,Software

Running Linux Mint 18.1 (kernel 4.4.0-53) on a Gigabyte Brix BACE-3160 (with an i915 graphics controller) , I had all kind of minor graphics artifacts (in particular a sluggish mouse pointer and Kodi felt heavy). So obviously, I went for updating the graphics stack.

Intel supplies an tool for doing this automagically on a selected list of distributions. In particular, the Graphics Update Tool 2.0.2 is intended for Ubuntu 16.04. Which is fine, since Mint 18.1 is derived from this distribution exactly.

So I downloaded it, and installed it:

$ sudo dpkg -i intel-graphics-update-tool_2.0.2_amd64.deb

That didn’t work all that nice, because there were missing dependencies. Easily fixed with

$ sudo apt-get -f install

And then launch the tool itself:

$ sudo intel-graphics-update-tool

And this is where the tool refused, because the distribution doesn’t match. So I tricked it by replacing the file it checks (a thanks goes to strace). First, save the real one:

$ sudo mv /etc/lsb-release /etc/lsb-release-mint

and then edit /etc/lsb-release to mimic Ubuntu. That is, saying this:


And then run the tool again. Now everything went through fine. And for the record, it really helped with those graphics issues.

By the way, among the things it did was to add an apt-get repository. Namely, adding the file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/intellinuxgraphics.list with the following:

deb xenial main #Intel Graphics drivers

For the record, this is /etc/lsb-release for Linux Mint 18.1:

DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="Linux Mint 18.1 Serena"

In case someone needs to fake Linux Mint…

Note that the effective initrd.img file (probably in /boot) must be updated (I’m not 100% about it, but it seems like the update tool did it): Odds are that the kernel modules related to graphics are loaded from the initrd.img, and not /lib/modules, as part of displaying the graphical splash screen (Plymouth) until Gnome is up and running. Unless you’ve disabled it, like myself.

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