Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nvidia Driver in Debian 5

Nvidia driver was mostly easily installed in Fedora 10 in the previous posts. Here we install the same nvidia video driver in Debian. It took me a couple of hours googling for a solution. The following is just for my records to save some time if I update my Debian linux kernel later. We should note that even we do not bother installing the driver, there is still a graphic interface. But, the video card fan keeps howling and would totally make you mad.

1. Install packages such as binutils/ gcc /make /kernel/kernel-header/kernel-devel, which would be necessary for compiling a working video driver. I suggest we search for "kernel" as a keyword in graphic interface to install kernel-related packages. It could happen that we need extra packages when we install the video driver and their names would be suggested in the error information of the installation.

# apt-get install binutils
# apt-get install gcc
# apt-get install make
# apt-get install kernel (also search it in windows)

2. Download from for a video card driver for linux, namely, NVIDIA*.run. Save it to a place accessible for root user.

3. Edit the xorg.conf file

# nano -w /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Then add the following line to the "Device" section of xorg.conf
Driver "nvidia".

Section "Device"
Identifier "Device0"
Driver "nvidia"
VendorName "NVIDIA Corporation"

4. Obtain non-graphic console to login. Note that the runlevel 2-5 in debian are identical. One has to remove the gdm xdm kdm to get non-graphic console. Remember to reinstall after the video driver installation.

# apt-get remove xdm kdm gdm

5. Reboot to nongraphic console and login as root, change to the directory where the video driver is in.

# sh NVIDIA*.run

6. During the installation it could suggest that something is not appropriate but try to install anyway unless it is totally not proceedable.

7. # apt-get install xdm kdm gdm

8. Have fun..... but most likely not. I tried several round to add all the necessary packages.


It turns out that Debian 5 has some optional driver packages for nvidia video card. I did not know this before I manually installed a working one from However, it caused x-windows failure when I curiously re-installed the debian nvidia video driver. So I just removed the debian one and went through the steps 1-7 once more.



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