Simplifying NVIDIA driver installation on Ubuntu

A terminal-based solution helps ease the frustration of installing NVIDIA drivers.

Proprietary NVIDIA [1] drivers on Linux are an evil so necessary that even the staunchest of open source advocates will find a use case for them from time to time. Whether for gaming, mining, or some other hardware-accelerated task, the green giant is here to stay, for better or for worse, and sadly seems to be wholeheartedly opposed to going all in with open source. Unlike AMD [2] driver support – which is simply fantastic on Linux, as I am sure most of you know already – NVIDIA doesn’t seem to be willing to play nicely. One has to wonder if they feel that they simply don’t need to, that their sway over the market sets them apart from others and absolves them of the responsibility that the other players feel to their customers. Who knows. What I do know is that NVIDIA Linux driver support is worse for the wear despite the hard work of many folks in the community. The worst part about this is the effect that it has on beginners to Linux who have heard all of the wonderful things about it and give it a try, only to have their system either hobbled with Nouveau drivers or who have to go through what I am about to discuss below. It is a sad state with a clear and obvious solution that I am afraid we won’t see come to fruition any time soon.

All may not be well, but not all is bad either. At least we have some kind of (albeit proprietary) solution to rely upon.

I will focus on Ubuntu [3] here as that is what I typically use nowadays as a simple, Linux-based install for whatever I need to do, but also because this is statistically likely to be what a beginner would first try out. While I started with Red Hat [4] (pre-Fedora [5]), today most folks tend towards Ubuntu, a derivative of it, or perhaps another Debian derivative their first time out.

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