Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

December 26, 2009

Installing Nvidia Video drives on Debian Testing (Squeeze)

Filed under: Knowledgebase,Linux/Unix Related — Suramya @ 3:15 AM

The default VGA drivers in Debian Testing worked fine for normal use, but when I tried to activate some of the effects like Fade, Shadow, Translucency etc the system told me that it couldn’t do it. I thought that this could be because I have an Nvidia video card and hadn’t installed the Nvidia driver yet.

I tried installing it using synaptic but for some reason when I added the nvidia driver it told me that I would have to remove pretty much most of my xorg (the GUI backend) install. So I aborted it. Did a little search on the web and found the following instructions to install the driver at

  • Log in as root
  • Type apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-$(uname -r) (to install the Linux headers)
  • Type cd /usr/src (Change to the source directory)
  • Type ln -s linux-headers-$(uname -r) linux (To create a virtual link ‘linux’ that points to the latest linux-headers downloaded)
  • Type wget (Download the NVIDIA installer)
  • Type /etc/init.d/gdm stop (to stop gdm and drop to a terminal)
  • Type cd /usr/src && sh (to launch the nVidia installer script)
  • I ran all the commands above but the installer kept telling me that the kernel-headers were missing. Tried a couple of things that didn’t work.

    Finally ran –help to see what command line parameters are supported by the installer. Noticed that they had a –update parameter that was supposed to update the installer to the latest version. I ran the installer with –update and it downloaded the latest version of the installer. After the download completed it automatically ran the installer which updated my system without any errors.

    So if you are trying to install the nvidia drivers using the installer and it keeps complaining about the headers missing even though you have them installed try running it with the –update option.

    Now I have all the effects I wanted to enable working fine.

    – Suramya


    1. Thanks for the description, and the details. I was just experimenting with installing the nVidia drivers on my older Dell C840 machine that is running Debian Testing. I decided to try the “smxi” script ( to see if it would make my life easier.

      My nVidia hardware failed to show the screen when I installed the nVidia drivers offered by the smxi script, but was successful when I used the Xorg driver (“nv”) offered by the script.

      Can you post the description of your nVidia hardware so I could compare it to mine? I suspect your nVidia hardware is much newer than mine.

      Comment by Mark Waite — December 28, 2009 @ 10:34 PM

    2. You are welcome. According to the GPU section in Nvidia Server settings my hardware is as follows: (Its an integrated card so can’t really look at the card itself)

      Graphics Processor: GeForce 7025 / nForce 630a
      VBIOS Version:
      Memory: 512 MB
      GPU Clock: 425 Mhz
      Memory Clock: 666 Mhz

      Hopefully this helps. Could you post the details on your nVidia hardware also so that I have an idea of what hardware doesn’t work with the smxi script?


      Comment by Suramya — December 29, 2009 @ 12:20 AM

    3. The Xorg.0.log file reports;

      (–) PCI:*(0:1:0:0) 10de:0174:1028:00d5 nVidia Corporation NV17 [GeForce4 440 Go] rev 163, Mem @ 0xfc000000/16777216, 0xe0000000/134217728, 0xdff80000/524288, BIOS @ 0x????????/131072
      (II) Open ACPI successful (/var/run/acpid.socket)

      I don’t think the failure was any fault of the smxi script. It presented the option (brilliantly) to select the nVidia driver from its choices. The choices included, the oldest nVidia driver, the latest released, and at least one beta driver. Those choices were great and spared me having to guess and puzzle about how to perform those changes. It let me readily test the various drivers with some confidence that I would eventually return to a working system.

      I was not surprised that the newest released nVIdia driver did not work, although I was surprised at its complaint that a kernel module was missing for the 2.6.30 kernel (it appears to only be available for the 2.6.26 kernel). No worry, the card and computer are old enough that I’m glad they are running, and doubly glad they are running X Windows.

      Thanks again for posting your experiences,
      Mark Waite

      Comment by Mark Waite — December 29, 2009 @ 1:57 AM

    4. Thanks for the additional information.
      I too was surprised when I found that nVidia didn’t have a module for the 2.6.30 kernel. But to be frank, the latest version of their installation program installed the drivers without any issues on my system. Which made me quite happy 🙂

      > No worry, the card and computer are old enough that I’m glad they are running, and doubly glad they are running X Windows.

      Ha ha… I know what you mean.

      – Suramya

      Comment by Suramya — December 29, 2009 @ 7:40 PM

    5. Wow, thanks, easy!

      Comment by James — January 12, 2010 @ 8:28 PM

    6. thanks, that is what I was looking for.

      Comment by osman — January 16, 2010 @ 9:33 PM

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