Installing the Latest nVidia Graphics Drivers on Linux Mint 18

This was originally posted on my old blog in July 2016.

Linux Mint 18 was released yesterday featuring new and improved versions of the Cinnamon and MATE desktop environments, improvements to HiDPI support, exFAT filesystem support, improvements to the Update Manager as well as various other fixes and improvements.

Depending on your hardware configuration you may already have all the drivers you need to use your system but if you are the owner of a modern NVIDIA Graphics Card then you will need to install the driver provided by NVIDIA to make full use of the hardware as the open source driver won’t do much more provide you with a desktop environment.

The installation process is straightforward and will take approximately 10-15 minutes depending on the speed of your storage device and your internet connection. To begin, open the System Settings program and then click Software Sources from the Administration section.

After this, click the PPAs option on the left-side and then click the Add a New PPA button. In the text box, type in ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa. Then click the Ok button followed by Update the cache.

Dialog box to add the nvidia graphics driver ppa

Once this is done, close the Software Sources program and then open the Driver Manager program. This is also found in the Administration section of the System Settings. Once the driver manager is open, you will see an interface that looks like this. The options shown are entirely dependent on the hardware in your system. In the case of my system, this is what was shown.

The addition drivers program can be used to install any extra drivers for your hardware to function correctly.

As the screenshot above shows, the Driver Manager was showing me available drivers for my GTX 970, my TP-Link WiFi Card (uses a Broadcom controller) and then the microcode updates for my Intel CPU.

With the GTX 970 being a modern card, I can install the latest driver (at the time of writing) which is version 367.27. Older cards may not be supported on newer driver versions but the Driver Manager shouldn’t show you a driver version that you card isn’t supported by. You can use the nVidia GeForce website to check the driver version that is right for you but ensure that you install that driver through the Driver Manager.

Dialog box to search for drivers on the nVidia GeForce website

Once you have found the latest version, select that version in the Driver Manager and then press Apply Changes. You can also use this opportunity to install the Intel Microcode updates, if you have an Intel processor, to ensure your system runs without errors. If you would like to read more on microcode updates, the Debian Wiki has a great entry explaining what they do and why they are needed.

After the driver installation is done, which will take around 5 to 10 minutes depending on the speed of your internet connection, restart your computer and then log back into your system. There will now be a program called NVIDIA X Server Settings which can be used to make changes to your display settings. This can be found in the Administration section of the System Menu.

At this stage, everything should now be installed and you will be able to make full use of your NVIDIA Graphics Card on Linux Mint 18. From here you can install Steam and play games such as F1 2015, Civilization V or PAYDAY 2. There a few things to keep in mind, based on how the updates currently work, when looking for newer drivers in the future. These are all outlined in the bullet points below.

  • The PPA used to provide the drivers is well maintained and unless it becomes part of the main package repositories in the future, your nVidia drivers will be found here.
  • While the driver manager is only intended to show drivers that your card is supported by, you can use the GeForce website to ensure you are installing a supported version.
  • The drivers are split into branches by their version number. While this makes updating to newer versions a tad slower in the long-term, it also allows you to rollback to an older driver much faster if you have any issues.

Thanks for visiting my website. I hope that this guide has allowed you to make full use of your NVIDIA Graphics Card under Linux Mint. I recommend keeping this guide in your bookmark for future reference or for easier sharing with family and friends.