NVIDIA Linux Display Drivers


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Summary: NVIDIA accelerated graphics driver



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NVIDIA Linux Display Drivers


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NVIDIA provides proprietary graphics drivers for Linux as binary blobs. The alternative open source driver is Package:Nouveau Video Drivers (Open Source).


If you installed debian-sources with the binary USE flag you will need to blacklist the nouveau module

blacklist nouveau
options nouveau modeset=0
alias nouveau off

Preparing to Install

Hardware compatibility and driver versions

Currently, there are five versions of meta NVIDIA Linux drivers, each of which supports a specific group of GPUs. To learn which driver is suitable for your video card, consult the official page of the NVIDIA complete list of supported GPUs. Mind that choosing the wrong driver may render your system unusable!

The required kernel options

[*] Enable loadable module support
[*] MTRR (Memory Type Range Register) support

Device Drivers --->
      Graphics support ---> 
            <*> Support for frame buffer devices --->
                  <> NVIDIA Framebuffer Support
                  <> NVIDIA Riva support

An alternative is to uvesafb framebuffer, or vesa framebuffer which can be installed in parallel with nvidia-drivers


Installing nvidia-drivers outside of package manager as described below can be problematic. Use at own risk


nVidia offers their Linux drivers directly from their website and for a while now offer these in a ready-to-run package. Visit the nVidia website, click the Driver link and fill in the questionaire to obtain the correct driver package for your nVidia video card. Download this package to a suitable location on your system. Next, kill the X-server so you're on the command line (cli) as the installer refuses to run if it detects the X-window system is running, become root with the su command and navigate to the location where you stored the package. Make the package executable with

# chmod +x NVIDIA*.run

Or type NV then hit the Tab key for easy completion of the file name. Ensure you've blacklisted the Nouveau drivers (see above), then execute the package with

# sh ./NV*.run

Again, the Tab key will complete the full package name. The program will unpack itself and start the installation of the nVidia driver. Follow instructions on the screen. Depending on the speed of your hardware, this may take a while and it might appear the program is stuck. It isn't, just needs some more time to finish. After installation, reboot your system.


Upgrade and/or configure the VIDEO_CARDS flag to nvidia in /etc/portage/make.conf.

# nano /etc/portage/make.conf

For older drivers, especially unsupported versions, you may need to enter the details of the lowest numbered driver that will fail your video-card into /etc/portage/package.mask. Example:


This will block the installation of the 341.0.0 driver and all later versions, as the video cards used (a GT8400GS in this case) is not supported by those newer drivers. emerge will therefore install the latest previous version, in this case the 340.102 driver.


Installing the driver with the gtk use flags will also provide media-video/nvidia-settings which is a graphical tool for monitoring and various settings for your video card

Emerging the package

# emerge x11-drivers/nvidia-drivers

When the installation is complete run modprobe nvidia module to read kernel memory.

# lsmod | grep nvidia

If an update before remove the old module

# rmmod nvidia
# modprobe nvidia

The Importance of the Video Group

While many video drivers (those that are part of xorg-x11) do not require users to be part of the video group for hardware acceleration, the NVIDIA drivers definitely do require this. Please make sure that any non-root user is part of the video group. This can be done by using vigr or via the command-line as follows:

#  usermod -a -G video myusername

Testing your Video Card

To test your video card run the glxinfo program, which is part of the mesa-progs package. This will check if direct rendering is enabled.

$ glxinfo | grep direct
  direct rendering: yes


Loading at boot

To automate the loading of the module when you boot your system, add nvidia in modules variable.

# nano /etc/conf.d/modules

Integration with X Server

When your X server is installed and there is a /etc/X11/xorg.conf you can run the nvidia-xconfig which will identify and set the video card, amongst other possible configurations, in your xorg.conf.

# nvidia-xconfig
Section "Device"
    Identifier     "nvidia"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "[Name] [Model]"
    Option    "RegistryDwords" "EnableBrightnessControl=1"

The "EnableBrightnessControl=1" option above will allow laptop backlight brightness to be controlled via hotkey or via GNOME slider. Without this option, it is likely that brightness will not be able to be controlled.

Enabling NVIDIA Support

Include the use flag in nvidia in /etc/portage/make.conf so that applications flags are set correctly.

# nano /etc/portage/make.conf

Enabling OpenGL/OpenCL

As a requirement, make sure that the Xorg server is not in use during this change. To enable OpenGL and OpenCL.

# eselect opengl set nvidia
# eselect opencl set nvidia