nouveau (Open Source Driver)

This is a reverse engineered driver largely developed by the community, with some documentation provided by Nvidia. It tends to perform well on older hardware, and is required to use a large portion of the available Wayland compositors.

At the time of writing, graphics cards starting with second generation Maxwell (GTX 9xx) are unable to perform at their full potential with nouveau. This is because the linux-firmware collection is missing signed firmware blobs needed to reclock these cards past their boot frequencies.

To use nouveau with Wayland, you only need the mesa-dri package, which provides the accelerated OpenGL driver. On X11, you also need an appropriate Xorg driver. You can either install xf86-video-nouveau or use the universal modesetting driver bundled with Xorg (this is the only option on Tegra based ARM boards). The former can make use of GPU-specific 2D acceleration paths, which is primarily useful on older cards with specialized fixed function hardware (the modesetting driver will accelerate 2D using OpenGL via GLAMOR). When in doubt, it's a good idea to try xf86-video-nouveau first.

Note: xf86-video-nouveau is usually installed by default if you use the xorg metapackage. If you use xorg-minimal, you will need to install it manually, either directly or through xorg-video-drivers.

nvidia (Proprietary Driver)

The proprietary drivers are available in the nonfree repository.

Check if your graphics card belongs to the legacy branch. If it does not, install the nvidia package. Otherwise you should install the appropriate legacy driver, nvidia470 or nvidia390. The older legacy driver, nvidia340, is no longer available, and users are encouraged to switch to nouveau.

BrandTypeModelDriver Package
NVIDIAProprietary400/500 Seriesnvidia390

The proprietary driver integrates in the kernel through DKMS.

This driver offers better performance and power handling, and is recommended where performance is needed.

32-bit program support (glibc only)

In order to run 32-bit programs with driver support, you need to install additional packages.

If using the nouveau driver, install the mesa-dri-32bit package.

If using the nvidia driver, install the nvidia<x>-libs-32bit package. <x> represents the legacy driver version (470 or 390) or can be left empty for the main driver.

Reverting from nvidia to nouveau

Uninstalling nvidia

In order to revert to the nouveau driver, install the nouveau driver (if it was not installed already), then remove the nvidia, nvidia470, or nvidia390 package, as appropriate.

If you were using the obsolete nvidia340 driver, you might need to install the libglvnd package after removing the nvidia340 package.

Keeping both drivers

It is possible to use the nouveau driver while still having the nvidia driver installed. To do so, remove the blacklisting of nouveau in /etc/modprobe.d/nouveau_blacklist.conf, /usr/lib/modprobe.d/nvidia.conf, or /usr/lib/modprobe.d/nvidia-dkms.conf by commenting it out:

#blacklist nouveau

For Xorg, specify that it should load the nouveau driver rather than the nvidia driver by creating the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-nouveau.conf with the following content:

Section "Device"
    Identifier "Nvidia card"
    Driver "nouveau"

You may need to reboot your system for these changes to take effect.