IntroductionNVIDIA graphics cards have long been the favorite for Linux gamers.
Their proprietary drivers have been very well supported for the last few years, and they continue to be.
The open source Nouveau drivers have been far less reliable, mostly due to NVIDIA's refusal to work with the open source community.
Either way, though, the drivers are available to install on Debian Stretch.
Open SourceFor the most part, when you install Debian Stretch, the Nouveau drivers will also be installed.
However, one exception here is the firmware blobs needed for the drivers to reach their full potential.
Before you continue, you should make sure that your graphics card is supported by Nouveau.
Since the Nouveau driver has to be reverse engineered, it tends to lag behind graphics card releases.
You can check your card's support at
FirmwareThe first step in installing the firmware is to enable the
non-freerepositories in Debian.
/etc/apt/sources.listin you favorite text editor as root, and add
contrib non-freeto the end of every line after
main. Save and exit.
Now, run an system update.
# apt update && apt upgradeUse
apt-get. It is the newer version, and tends to handle conflicts better.
LLVMThis next part isn't strictly necessary, but LLVM is used by some graphical packages, and it's best to ensure that you have the latest version available already installed, especially since there are older versions available in the repositories.
At the time of this article, 3.9 is the latest release and a 4.0 release candidate is available. 3.9 should be the minimum version to install.
# apt install llvm-3.9 clang-3.9
RestartThat's it. Now, restart your computer and test out your card to make sure everything is working.
ProprietaryThe proprietary drivers are where NVIDIA cards truly shine.
They may not be for everyone, but if you don't care about using closed software and just want your games to run, they are a great option.
Debian PackagesDebian does offer the proprietary NVIDIA drivers in the
They aren't always the most up-to-date, but as of this article, the latest stable release is available in the Stretch repository.
Start off by enabling both the
non-freerepositories as well as
To enable them, open
/etc/apt/sources.listwith your text editor of choice as root, and add
mainin every one of the official Debian repository lines.
i386by running the following linux command.
# dpkg --add-architecture i386After the command is run, you can install both the non-free firmware and the NVIDIA driver packages needed.
# apt install firmware-linux nvidia-driver nvidia-settings nvidia-xconfigWhen the install finishes, run the following to generate an Xorg configuration file.
# nvidia-xconfigYou can now restart your computer and enjoy your new drivers.
Nvidia InstallerThis method is generally not recommended because it can get complicated and cause problems.
That said, it does work, and it can be the only way to get the latest NVIDIA drivers installed.
Like the with the Debian package install, you need to enable he
non-freerepo along with
Refer back to that section for exactly now to do that.
Once you do have those repos enabled and your system updated, there are some packages that you need to install first.
# apt install firmware-linux build-essential gcc-multilib # apt build-dep linuxNow, you can head over to
https://www.nvidia.com/Download/Find.aspx?lang=en-us, fill out the form there with your system information, and download your drivers.
The drivers will come in the form of a
.runfile. That file must be run as root with the X server disabled.
The easiest way to do this in Debian is to stop you display manager with Systemd.
# systemctl stop gdm3The above command assumes that you're using the default GDM display manager. If you aren't, just substitute the one that you are using.
Immediately after running the command, the graphical environment will stop, and you will be dropped into the terminal.
Sign in as root, and
cdto the directory where the driver installer downloaded.
Once there, make sure it's executable.
# cd /home/user/Downloads # chmod +x NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-378.09.runThis article uses the current beta version number, so make sure to use the actual name of the file that you downloaded.
You can now run the installer.
# ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-378.09.runYou will now receive a series of prompts as the installer runs.
It is recommended that you enable 32bit support when prompted.
Unless the installer changes, it should also ask you to generate an Xorg configuration.
Accept that too. If not, run
nvidia-xconfigafter the installer finishes.
After the installation completes, reboot your system into the new drivers.
ConclusionIf you have an NVIDIA graphics card, you can certainly get great use out of it on Debian Stretch.
Though Debian may not be thought of as much of a gaming platform, it was chosen by Valve as the basis of SteamOS, and that should count for something.
When coupled with NVIDIA's top-notch proprietary drivers or Nouveau (if compatible), it can make for an excellent gaming platform.