Few Very Important Tips on Linux GPU Drivers

Hello guys, I see lots of topics here about problems with GPU drivers on Linux. I want everyone to see this, I'm just sharing a few things about GPU drivers that new users should know.

  1. There are 2 proper ways to install GPU drivers on Linux, and downloading them from Nvidia/AMD site is not one of them.
    You can do it the easy way, through the driver manager. It's a bit different on different distros. Some have a program called "Driver Manager", "Drivers" or something like that. Other distros on the other hand, have integrated it with some other settings, for example on Ubuntu it's "Software & Updates", but you can look for "additional drivers" in the search. Hint: You can download other drivers (like network cards) there as well.
    Another way of installing the drivers is through the terminal. You should find the proper drivers and install them through apt-get (on Debian, Ubuntu and similar). For example sudo apt-get install nvidia-current

  2. Pretty much always the closed source (proprietary) Nvidia drivers are better than the open ones. There tend to be artefacts popping up after like 15 minutes of usage or so on open drivers with my card.

  3. Open source AMD drivers tend to be working way better than proprietary ones. You have the open ones installed out of the box, you should try to install the closed drivers ONLY if you are having problems with the open ones.

  4. You don't need to update your drivers all the time, pursue the newest version. Games other things will run fine unlike with Windows. It's all about stability, so just install the drivers that are recommended by your distro.

  5. Intel GPUs have the best drivers that are open and prepared by Intel. They are installed out of the box.

Note that I never used AMD on Linux, so what I write here about them isn't from my own experience, but rather experiences of others. If you think that I should write about something else as well, or I made a mistake or something - just tell me :)


This post should be pinned or sth it will save a lot of people a lot of time...

Is there no workaround to get Nvidia's driver's on Linux? Or are they being bastards about that as well?

You are getting Nvidia drivers through the ways posted above. Just not the most recent ones (rarely makes a difference) you find on the Vendor site but the most recent ones that the distro developers tested and validated as working (sth that the vendor should have done but what the hell).

What do you mean by they are being bastards? Are you not able to install the driver?

I figured Nvidia was just doing what they always do, and preventing people from doing stuff on purpose, like not being able to install Nvidia drivers if it detects CCC running, etc.

Ubuntu Gnome is recommending nvidias 331.113 driver (which is ancient)

Is trying to update to thier newest driver not recommended or just not worth the hassle?

They are not preventing it on Linux. "At your own risk" is self explanatory.

Completely not worth it, I'll add it as the fourth point :)

Meh, I'm a butthurt 970 owner, so I'm kinda anti Nvidia at the moment, would switch to red team if I could.

I'd like to refute the point that the 'nvidia-current' package drivers will be good enough all of the time, and that the only way you should be installing drivers is through aptitude.

I recently purchased a GTX 960, and pretty much the only thing that worked well for me were Nvidia's proprietary linux drivers that they have on their site (Version 346.47 to be specific). While it's a bit more hassle to download the driver and install it using Nvidia's installer, there often is no other choice but to do so. After doing so, I have 0 graphics related problems after using the drivers for about a month, and all of the games that I play run silky smooth in some cases even better than they do on windows.

Something else that I'd like to warn people about are AMD linux drivers. The only reason why I decided to grab an Nvidia card in the recent months is due to the fact that AMD has horrific proprietary linux drivers. While the open source drivers are better, it still doesn't make up for the fact that Nvidia's drivers are beyond superior on linux. If you would like to game on Linux and you are faced with the choice of AMD vs Nvidia, I would definitely suggest to go with Nvidia due to their drivers, but that is just based on my personal experience.

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

I too would like to refute the aptitude only driver install method. The AMD drivers for me only work if I grab them from the AMD site and install them manually. I would like to refute the claim that AMD's linux drivers are worse than Nvidia's. After all, Linus Torvalds wouldn't give Nvidia the finger if they were great. I have had no issues with AMD's Omega drivers. In the past, sure they were wonky but not in the present.

Linus Torvalds gave nvidia the finger in response to them not releasing the required documentation that would allow the community to develop nouveau, not fundamentally because nvidia's drivers are crappy. Catalyst is crappy and lagged badly behind mainline kernel, which is why it has the reputation it has, because it just couldn't keep up with mainline. Not to mention the countless artifacts that came along with the binary drivers.

So let me get this right: I just installed ubuntu 14.10 in dual boot. I need to reinstall the drivers even though I had them on windows right? those dont work here? to pick which drivers I'll just search for "best open amd drivers for ubuntu 14.10"

That would be incorrect. If you're looking to use the open source AMD drivers, then you have no need to because they're already loaded into the kernel as modules. If you're looking for the proprietary drivers however, you'll have to install them via a package manager.

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oh ok, but if I understood correctly open ones are a bit better than the proprietary ones, right? is there a way to check for them in the shell? (do you know of a good guide for the shell, are these good? http://imgur.com/EM7DuzC)
also, gaming-wise: do i have to reinstall the games I want to play on linux or is there some workaround? playonlinux maybe?
btw thanks

LinuxCommand.org is a pretty good site if you want to learn the shell. The book is good, not super great, but it's provided totally free.

As for your games, if you're running Steam, you can Backup and Restore them to save time. For explicitly Windows-based games, you'll need WINE (PlayOnLinux is basically a wrapper/manager for this).

Open Drivers in AMD are more stable and reliable, but not necessarily better performing. For Nvidia its not the same as the open driver is reversed engineered and can have issues. Check the performance you get with the open drivers and if it is not satisfactory try the proprietary ones by using the instructions on the top of the thread. If you want to remain with the Open they are already pre-installed so you do not have to do anything extra.

For the games you will need to reinstall in linux if you want to play yes. Its just that on Steam the installation is done easier and you have the save cloud to share save games between OSs. For other whether natively or by playonlinux/wine you will need to reinstall them. Do not expect to use same installation data as in the windows partition. Unless someone here has a way to do it. I do not know of any.

To add to @turin231's reply, you can check out WineHQ to see if the program you're interested in installing will play nicely with WINE or whether it requires any workarounds.

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