Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Nvidia vs Nouveau: Understanding the Difference in Ubuntu 18.04 Drivers

Ubuntu 17

In the world of Ubuntu, the choice of graphics drivers can significantly impact your system’s performance and compatibility. Two of the most common drivers for Nvidia graphics cards are the proprietary Nvidia driver and the open-source Nouveau driver. This article will delve into the differences between these two drivers, their pros and cons, and how to install them on Ubuntu 18.04.

Quick Answer

The Nvidia driver and the Nouveau driver are two different options for graphics drivers in Ubuntu 18.04. The Nvidia driver is a proprietary driver developed by Nvidia, offering optimized performance and advanced features, but it requires manual installation. The Nouveau driver, on the other hand, is an open-source driver included in the Linux kernel, providing ease of use and freedom, but it may not offer the same level of performance or compatibility with advanced Nvidia features.

Proprietary Nvidia Driver

The proprietary Nvidia driver, also known as nvidia-driver-440 in Ubuntu, is a closed-source driver developed and maintained by Nvidia. It is designed specifically for Nvidia graphics cards and aims to unlock their full potential.

Benefits of Nvidia Driver

The Nvidia driver offers several benefits:

  1. Optimized Performance: The driver is optimized for Nvidia GPUs, ensuring the best possible performance.
  2. Advanced Features: It supports advanced Nvidia features such as CUDA, PhysX, and 3D Vision.
  3. Stability: It is generally more stable and reliable than the open-source alternatives.

Drawbacks of Nvidia Driver

However, the Nvidia driver also has some drawbacks:

  1. Closed Source: As it is proprietary, users cannot modify or inspect the source code.
  2. Installation: The driver must be manually installed and updated, which can be complex for some users.

Installing Nvidia Driver

To install the Nvidia driver in Ubuntu 18.04, you can use the ubuntu-drivers utility. Open a terminal and type:

sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall
sudo reboot

The autoinstall command automatically installs the recommended driver for your system, including any necessary dependencies. The reboot command restarts your system to apply the changes.

Nouveau: The Open-Source Alternative

Nouveau is an open-source driver for Nvidia graphics cards. It is included in the Linux kernel and is developed by the open-source community.

Benefits of Nouveau Driver

Nouveau has several advantages:

  1. Open Source: As an open-source driver, Nouveau’s source code can be inspected and modified by anyone.
  2. Ease of Use: It is included in the Linux kernel, so it does not require manual installation.
  3. Freedom: It respects the user’s freedom to use, modify, and distribute the software.

Drawbacks of Nouveau Driver

However, Nouveau also has some limitations:

  1. Performance: It may not offer the same level of performance or features as the proprietary Nvidia drivers.
  2. Compatibility: Some advanced Nvidia features may not be supported.

Using Nouveau Driver

By default, Ubuntu uses the Nouveau driver if the Nvidia driver is not installed. Therefore, you do not need to do anything special to use the Nouveau driver.

Conclusion

The choice between Nvidia and Nouveau drivers depends on your needs. If you require the best possible performance and support for advanced Nvidia features, the Nvidia driver is the best choice. However, if you value open-source software and ease of use, the Nouveau driver is a good alternative.

Remember that both drivers can coexist on your system. The Nouveau driver can serve as a fallback option in case there are any issues with the Nvidia driver. Always ensure to keep your system up-to-date to enjoy the best performance and security.

Can I use the Nvidia driver and the Nouveau driver at the same time on Ubuntu 18.04?

Yes, both drivers can coexist on your system. The Nouveau driver can serve as a fallback option in case there are any issues with the Nvidia driver.

How can I check which graphics driver is currently in use on my Ubuntu 18.04 system?

You can check the currently active graphics driver by running the following command in the terminal: lspci -k | grep -EA3 'VGA|3D|Display'. It will display information about your graphics card and the associated driver in use.

How can I switch from the Nouveau driver to the Nvidia driver in Ubuntu 18.04?

To switch from the Nouveau driver to the Nvidia driver, you can use the ubuntu-drivers utility. Open a terminal and run the command sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall. Then, reboot your system to apply the changes.

Can I install and update the Nvidia driver manually in Ubuntu 18.04?

Yes, you can manually install and update the Nvidia driver in Ubuntu 18.04. You can download the driver from the Nvidia website and follow the installation instructions provided. However, it is generally recommended to use the ubuntu-drivers utility for easier management.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *