Installing NVIDIA drivers in Linux

Often NVIDIA drivers have been the cause for most of my head ache in getting my Linux installations to work well. After installing a distro, one of the most important things for me is to get CUDA working in Blender as quickly and easily as possible.

CUDA option in Blender’s User Preferences panel in System tab

I’ve formed a couple of basic rules for getting CUDA to work. I really prefer the distro’s built-in way of installing the drivers rather than trying to use terminal for shutting down the distro’s display manager and installing the drivers that way.

If the following advice don’t help, this is a helpful place to find answers for this problem.

In Ubuntu, in its variants/spins (Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, …) and in other Ubuntu-based distros (Linux Mint, Elementary OS, etc…) in order to have CUDA available in Blender’s User Preferences in the System panel, it makes things a lot easier if you have:

  1. Distro based on at least Ubuntu Release Xenial Xerus (16.04). In other words, just download a distro that’s released in 2016 or later.
  2. Latest proprietary NVIDIA drivers installed from the ‘Additional Drivers’ (and having restarted the computer)(Elementary OS doesn’t have ‘Additional Drivers’, here’s the instructions for it)
  3. Blender downloaded from blender.org or builder.blender.org

However, if you want to have CUDA available in the Blender that you have installed through your distro’s Software Center or by using a PPA, you need to also install (in addition to the drivers mentioned above) the NVIDIA CUDA toolkit that can be 800–1400 MB in size. Find it with the name nvidia-cuda-toolkit in the Software Center or Synaptic. Or with a terminal:

# Install nvidia-cuda-toolkit in a Ubuntu-based distro:
sudo apt install nvidia-cuda-toolkit

For more information about the PPAs, check out the article I wrote about them.

Manjaro XFCE installation menu

In my experience so far, only Arch-based Manjaro distribution has the latest NVIDIA driver with all the needed CUDA capability nicely installed right after the installation (by using the non-free installation option). The GPU rendering in Blender worked straight out of the box, no matter how you had installed or downloaded it.

However, Manjaro seems to have another kinds of problems when it comes to Krita.

To be continued…

More NVIDIA driver installation in Linux experiences will get updated to this article as I go on installing new type of distros.