Install/Upgrade Nvidia Drivers on Debian 11 Bullseye

Tutorial Information
Prerequisites Required:None
Sudo Access Required:Yes
Root Login Required:No
Estimated Completion Time:5 to 15 Minutes
Internet Connection Required:Yes
Installation Method Options:APT
Difficulty Level (Easy/Medium/Hard):Easy to Medium

Most modern Linux Desktop systems such as Debian come with an Nvidia driver pre-installed in the Nouveau open-source graphics device driver for Nvidia video cards. For the most part, this is acceptable; however, if you are using your Linux system for graphical design or gaming, you may get better drivers.

Historically, the Nouveau proprietary drivers are slower than Nvidia’s proprietary drivers, along with lacking the newest features, software technology, and support for the latest graphics card hardware. In most situations, upgrading your Nvidia Drivers using the following guide is more beneficial than not doing it. In some cases, you may see some substantial improvements overall.

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install Nvidia Graphic Drivers using Debian’s repositories.

Install NVIDIA 510.47.xx Drivers

The latest NVIDIA 510.47 drivers are not available in Debian’s repositories yet, however you can visit the tutorial Install/Upgrade NVIDIA 510.47.xx Drivers on Debian 11 Bullseye.

Determine your Graphics Card

The first step for users with aging NVIDIA Graphics cards is to determine what it is and if it is supported, users with brand new cards can skip this part as no doubt they will be supported.

First, find your graphics card module

lspci | grep -e VGA

Example output:

03:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation TU117 [GeForce GTX 1650] (rev a1)

Next, visit the supported NVIDIA GPU 510 supported chips section and verify your card is listed before moving on. For example, the tutorial uses an older GeForce GTX 1650, which is still supported in that list.

Installing NVIDIA Drivers

Installation Presetup

The first task is you will need to enable the “contrib” and “non-free” repositories to your Debian repositories. This can be quickly done using the following commands.

First, add the contrib repository.

sudo add-apt-repository contrib

Now add the non-free repository.

sudo add-apt-repository contrib

Once added, update your repository list.

sudo apt update

Before installing any Nvidia drivers, you will need to install the proper kernel headers for the NVIDIA driver to build with. You can install either 64bit or 32bit, and you can find this out by running the lscpu command:

lscpu | grep CPU

Example output:

CPU op-mode(s):                  32-bit, 64-bit
CPU(s):                          2
On-line CPU(s) list:             0,1
CPU family:                      23
CPU MHz:                         3900.025
NUMA node0 CPU(s):               0,1

From the output, the system is 64bit, so the following headers need to be installed:

sudo apt install linux-headers-amd64

32bit Debian systems, use the following command instead.

DO NOT USE THIS IF YOU ARE ON A 64BIT SYSTEM.

32-bit non-PAE kernel:

sudo apt install linux-headers-686

32-bit PAE kernel:

sudo apt install linux-headers-686-pae

Install Nvidia Drivers

Next, you can install the package “nvidia-detect,” which will automatically suggest the best package for your graphics card.

To do this, use the following command:

sudo apt install nvidia-detect

Now that Nvidia-detect is installed, run the command to check your current Nvidia Graphics Card:

nvidia-detect

Example output:

How to Install or Upgrade Nvidia Drivers on Debian 11 Bullseye

The output has shown the machine in the example has a GeForce GTX 1650 card and that it is recommended to install the nvidia-driver package, but this is just a recommendation.

Next, install the recommended package:

sudo apt install nvidia-driver linux-image-amd64

Example output with all extra dependencies to be installed:

How to Install or Upgrade Nvidia Drivers on Debian 11 Bullseye

Type “Y,” then press the “ENTER KEY” to proceed with the installation.

During the installation, you will see a prompt as follows:

How to Install or Upgrade Nvidia Drivers on Debian 11 Bullseye

This is due to the free Nouveau graphics driver conflicting with the new driver being installed. As per the message, you will need to reboot to correct this; for now, press the “ENTER KEY” to proceed.

Once installed, reboot your system.

sudo reboot now

Once logged back in, run the “nvidia-smi” command to confirm the new Nvidia Drivers have been installed.

nvidia-smi

Example output:

How to Install or Upgrade Nvidia Drivers on Debian 11 Bullseye

As the output has shown, driver version 460.91.03 has been successfully installed.

Install Nvidia Legacy Drivers

If your Nvidia Graphics card is quite old from 400 Series downwards, you will need to install the legacy drivers. The process is the same, just with a new install command:

sudo apt install nvidia-legacy-390xx-driver firmware-misc-nonfree -y

Once complete, do not forget to reboot your system.

sudo reboot now

Next, run the “nvidia-smi” command to verify the installation.

nvidia-smi

The 340 series can technically be installed; however, it is no longer supported, and several major security flaws exist in those drivers. It is not advised to install these drivers if you need to replace 390xx to 340xx but be warned that Debian does not recommend this.

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you learned how to install the latest stable or beta drivers on your Debian 11 Bullseye Desktop. The decision on which drivers to install will come down mainly with the age of the card. For older cards, use the default Nvidia repository, and recommended packages should be installed. The bleeding edge will be the go-to for gamers with the latest cards requiring the most up-to-date packages. Still, the risks of instability and slight potential security issues will increase using the bleeding edge drivers.



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