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Using NVIDIA drivers in Fedora 16

UPDATE 2 (2012-08-23): The Nvidia installer now makes use of DKMS, which causes any kernel updates to rebuild the Nvidia kernel module. So, no need to go through this rigamarole at every kernel update.
UPDATE: There was a typo in my lspci command line. Should have been VGA and not CGA.

Installing the latest NVIDIA drivers under Fedora (or really, any distribution), is a little roundabout. Here is how I do it, which is a mix and match of several howtos on the net. Part of the reason the process is a little complicated is the use of the open source Nouveau drivers: these have to be removed before NVIDIA's drivers can be installed.

The canonical reference for all things Linux+NVIDIA is if-not-true-then-false.com. Their write-up on NVIDIA and Fedora 16 gives directions to use the RPMFusion repositories, which provide non-free software (including the NVIDIA drivers).

We will follow their instructions for removing Nouveau, but install NVIDIA drivers downloaded from NVIDIA themselves.

$ sudo -i
# yum install gcc kernel-devel
# yum update kernel* selinux-policy
# reboot

To remove nouveau, build a new initramfs image:

# mv /boot/initramfs-$(uname -r).img /boot/initramfs-$(uname -r)-nouveau.img
# dracut /boot/initramfs-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r)
# reboot

Next, edit the file /etc/default/grub. To the line that defines GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX, append the following:

rdblacklist=nouveau nouveau.modeset=0

Mine looks like:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="rd.md=0 rd.lvm.lv=vg_johnny/lv_swap rd.dm=0  KEYTABLE=us quiet  SYSFONT=latarcyrheb-sun16 rhgb rd.luks=0 LANG=en_US.UTF-8 rdblacklist=nouveau  nouveau.modeset=0"

Then, make the grub2 config:

# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

Next, find the model number of your GPU card, and find the appropriate driver from NVIDIA:

> lspci | grep VGA

Mine shows:

01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation G92 [GeForce 9800 GT] (rev a2)

Then, go to NVIDIA's Linux driver page and pick the appropriate version. For me, it was Linux x86_64/AMD64/EM64T, version 295.33 -- the driver installer is a file named NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-295.33.run

The installer will build a kernel module, but to do so, you must be in runlevel 3 (i.e. no GUI, but with networking):

# telinit 3

You will drop down to the console prompt. Login as root, and then do:

# sh NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-295.33.run

and answer the prompts along the way. You should be able to just do "telinit 5" to get back the GUI login, but I usually just reboot.

Now, whenever the kernel is updated, you will have to rebuild the kernel module by repeating the last step.

At the final step of the Nvidia installation, you will be asked if you want to enable dkms, which allows kernel updates to rebuild the Nvidia kernel module automatically. Say "yes".

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