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I need to install proprietary Nvidia drivers in my Debian Wheezy (to use CUDA if you wonder why) but none of these two options work for me:

  1. From Wheezy (backports) packages, the last nvidia-driver version is 319.82 and it does not manage my graphic card which is recent enough (GTX850M).
  2. From Nvidia website (using .run file), I can get the very last version of the driver, compatible with my card, but it breaks my system because -- as I guess -- I need Bumblebee... which refuses to be installed if Nvidia drivers were installed using .run file!

What is the solution except waiting for drivers upgrade in Debian?

Hint: it seems sid nivida-driver may solve my problem, but I am afraid that if I start using sid packages, because of nvidia-driver and bumblebee dependencies, I will need to cope with a stable/sid packages mixture for a while...

  • Have you considered running another distribution like Ubuntu? I mean, I'm a big fan of Debian, but I don't think that Debian stable is the first choice when it comes to non-free driver support for recent hardware... – Martin von Wittich Nov 6 '14 at 11:21
  • Actually, I never succeeded in setting up Debian Wheezy on my Laptop and I am using Linux Mint Debian instead. It is based on Debian backports if I am not making a mistake. I seriously considered ArchLinux but lack time to properly manage a PC under such a distribution and I am not a big fan of Ubuntu (for irrational reasons maybe...). I am not familiar enough with other distributions and now that (almost) everything is configured and running on my computer... – Yanux Nov 6 '14 at 11:52
  • May be you should upgrade your whole system to sid, since having mix of different packages may brake your system. – kirill-a Nov 6 '14 at 12:25
  • IMO Ubuntu is perfect if you want Debian with support for non-free drivers and recent software. I'd go with that. – Martin von Wittich Nov 6 '14 at 12:40
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    In your situation, getting the latest source package and compiling is probably the easiest solution. Note that you generally need matching kernel and Xorg drivers. – Gilles Nov 7 '14 at 1:40
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The latest nvidia drivers are in debian experimental. You can add that to your sources.list, like so:

deb http://your.nearest.mirror/debian experimental main contrib non-free

You also have to add APT::Default-Release "stable"; to /etc/apt/apt.conf to ensure that you don't get packages from experimental unless you explicitly add -t experimental to the apt-get command line.

To install the latest nvidia packages, you'd run:

apt-get -t experimental install nvidia-driver xserver-xorg-video-nvidia ...

There are numerous related packages to install, and the exact package names will change over time. I wrote the following script list-nvidia.sh to help keep them upgraded...it lists all currently installed or held nvidia-related packages.

#! /bin/bash

PKGS=$(dpkg -l '*nvidia*' '*cuda*' '*vdpau*' 2>/dev/null| awk '/^[hi]i/ {print $2}')

if [ "$1" == "-v" ] ; then 
  dpkg -l $PKGS
else
  echo "$PKGS"
fi

I use it like this:

apt-get -t experimental install $(list-nvidia.sh)

Occasionally, packages get renamed or obsoleted so they have to be excluded from the install list like this:

apt-get -t experimental install $(list-nvidia.sh | egrep -v 'nvidia-cuda-mps|nvidia-smi')

And, of course, you can add as many other package names as you like to the end of that apt-get command line (but they will all come from experimental, not stable because that's what you're telling apt-get to do).

  • BTW, the -t experimental option also works with aptitude and other apt tools. – cas Oct 2 '15 at 4:58
  • and finally, my answer above is easily adapted to cater for sid as well as (or instead of) experimental. You can add an unstable line to your sources.list and as long as you have the Default-release line in apt.conf, you won't get sid packages unless you specify -t unstable. I've found that unstable can be weeks or months behind experimental for nvidia packages. – cas Oct 2 '15 at 5:07
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Crunchbang distribution is based on Wheezy and has been rock stable. I chose it after trying Ubuntu, Mint, Debian testing. In fact I reinstalled all my machines to use crunchbang. The only let down has been the trying to get NVidia to work. I finally used smxi script to do it. Fantastic. Crunchbang uses openbox, it is sleek, smooth, fast and complete. A right balance between geeky and beginner desktop. Strongly recommend.

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