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Oct 19, 2010
I just went through the process of getting my older nvidia card working on debian, and decyphering the exact list of steps was a bit irritating, so I'm recording it here for everyone (including myself) to enjoy later on. I'm writing this down after completing the process (and I'm certainly not going to start over again), so this is from memory, and hopefully I'm getting all the steps in the right order.

  1. First off, you need to install the linux headers (and possibly the linux source) for your kernel. I did these steps out of order, so I can't say if the linux source tree is really required. Things started working for me once I installed the headers, so those are certainly required. apt-get install linux-headers-$(uname -r).

  2. Next up, idenfity what card you have, and what nvidia-glx package supports it. Run lspci and it will show you a list of hardware installed.. my card is shown below.
    01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation NV37GL [Quadro PCI-E Series] (rev a2)
    Take the card type, (in my case NV37GL) and do a google search for NV37GL glx debian. This will produce a list of debian packages, and hopefully you'll see a results that looks like Debian -- Details of package nvidia-glx-legacy-173xx in sid. The version doesn't matter, we're just looking for the name here. Apt-get can handle the details. (there should be a way to get this info from apt-cache, but it's not producing results for me. Feel free to send comments on how to make this work.)

  3. Run apt-get install nvidia-glx-legacy-173xx (or whatever package google found for you.) This will install the module you need and whatever dependencies it requires. If you have the require kernel source installed, you should see a message about it building for your currently installed kernel. If you see a message that looks like Module build for the currently running kernel was skipped since the kernel source for this kernel does not seem to be installed., it couldn't find your source tree and you need to try step 1 again.

  4. Once you're done that, get into console mode by doing init 1 or /etc/init.d/slim stop (substitute slim for gdm, kdm, xdm, whatever), and then go over to /etc/X11 and run X -configure to generate a new X configuration. Move the file over to /etc/X11/xorg.conf and then edit the file. Find the line that says Driver "nv" and change it to say Driver "nvidia".

  5. Save, exit, restart X. Once started, you should be able to open a terminal, run glxinfo and get results saying that glx is working.

  6. Celebrate! yay!

If you find any errors, or better ways to do that, please send me and email and I'll update appropriately. Good luck!
Tags: linux