Got a shiny new desktop with an nVidia card and your distribution doesn’t have built in support for automatically adding the drivers directly? Have no fear, building the drivers is not a complex process and is fairly standard across most distributions.
First go to the drivers section on the nVidia website and download the driver for your model of card and platform (32/64). I suggest you put this in a location such as /usr/local/src.
Next ensure you have a complete kit for building the required items, on Debian this is as easy as “apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-`uname -r` md5sum” on CentOS you will need to do a “yum install gcc make kernel-headers md5sum”.
Then simply execute it by typing “sh filename”
Follow the directions on screen and the rest of the process is automated. When it completes you will need to restart the X server to get the change in drivers to take effect.
Keep in mind however that it is increasingly rare not to be able to automatically install the driver for nVidia cards directly from a repository, it may not be in the main repository on some versions of Linux but it is usually available in one of the commonly used auxiliary repositories and there are definitely benefits to installing the driver via a repository such as automatic updates of the driver.
Another option for Debian based distributions like Ubuntu, Mint, and of course Debian itself is a program called “Envy“. What Envy does is automatically determine the version of drivers your nVidia card requires and installs them for you. It has both a GUI version if your GUI is at all functional and a text mode version if your GUI is not functional. You can also force it to install a specific version if you disagree with the version it’s attempting to install.
When it comes to testing graphics drivers after installation one way to go about this is with the glxinfo program which displays various information regarding your OpenGL setup and capabilities your card and driver currently are able to provide, of course the alternate more fun method of testing the video driver is to install say Open Arena which is a quake arena clone that is both active and fun to play with friends who use Windows, Linux, or Mac. You can find out more information on it at theirwiki.
If you’ve tried all of these solutions and you’re not having any luck getting your card and drivers to work, give us a call here at Pantek and one of our experts will have you up and running in no time.