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Installing NVIDIA graphics drivers on Fedora 12/13

Well, finally, the drivers issues I met first, quite a while ago, on Fedora Core 3 have… just got bigger. To make a long story short, Fedora 12 comes with a new driver called “nouveau” (actually, it’s not exactly new, it was already here in some previous versions but didn’t cause problems yet) which loads itself very early during the boot, preventing another driver from taking its place. As more accurate details may be found on the previous tutorials (FC3 Fedora 11), I’ll just list the steps (and only detail the new ones).

  • Get the required dependencies: yum install kernel-devel gcc
  • Grab the proper NVIDIA drivers there
  • Get rid of nouveau. That’s the hard part. I found several methods but none of them worked. Most notably, most or all of them required me to install NVIDIA’s drivers (they propose to use the RPM Fusion repository, but I wanted to use the drivers straight from, in order to be more easily up-to-date) then follow some instructions to make it beat nouveau. The problem is: NVIDIA’s drivers from refused to install with nouveau already running, so I had to kill it first. The solution I found was:
    1. blacklist it: edit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and add blacklist nouveau at the end
    2. blacklist it again in Grub: edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and add rdblacklist=nouveau at the end of the line starting with “kernel” in the proper section (NB: I have this file because I’m using Grub from an old Ubuntu installation, but I was told that Fedora 12 uses Grub 2, which has a totally different configuration file structure… I don’t know it, sorry)
    3. set the default init level to 3 (otherwise, nouveau will load when the GUI gets loaded): edit /etc/inittab and replace id:5:initdefault: with id:3:initdefault:

    This is the only working solution I found. As long as the GUI gets loaded, nouveau will get loaded too and the NVIDIA drivers will refuse to install. You will easily know if nouveau is loaded by the size of the font in the console: if it’s a large font it’s okay, if it’s a small font because the console is like in high-resolution, you did something wrong and most likely NVIDIA’s drivers will refuse to install

  • reboot
  • run the NVIDIA drivers installer (during the process, when it asks you whether it should try to update config files, say yes)
  • reboot

You’re now done. I chose to let the default init level to 3 because with every kernel update we have to reinstall the NVIDIA drivers (the version installed for the previous kernel will crash with a various severity, most likely preventing you from running the installer). To load the graphical desktop after booting in init level 3, just log in as root and type init 5.

Sources I used:

Update (20 June 2010): added dependencies, this also works for Fedora 13.
Update (7 December 2010): this should work for Fedora 14 too but I didn’t test it, notably I don’t know if they finally used Grub 2 or if they’re still on the much easier Grub 1.

Posted in graphic cards, Linux, nVidia.

5 Responses

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  1. Jay says

    Regards GRUB version, Fedora 12 (and also the recently-released openSUSE 11.2) both use legacy GRUB (i.e. version 0.97). Of recent releases, only Ubuntu 9.10 ( and maybe Mint 8 ?) use the new GRUB2.
    However GRUB2 at the moment is considered beta-software: see at

  2. patheticcockroach says

    Thanks for the precision, I updated the post. It’s funny how for once Ubuntu uses brand new (and even still beta…) software while even Fedora sticks to the latest stable…

  3. random guy says

    – after booting as described in your post:
    # find /lib/modules/$(uname -r) -iname nouveau.ko -exec mv "{}" "{}.disabled" \;

    this will disable the module for the current running kernel; after rebooting, there won’t be any more nouveau.

    of course, every time you upgrade your kernel you will need to do this again.

  4. BG says

    Thanks for this posting — what a pain it was to get the nVidia proprietary legacy drivers installed (old Vanta card), but your post saved me 🙂

  5. Keith says

    THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS!!!!!!!! I have been making slow progress getting these two GeForce 9500GT’s working with Fedora 12.

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