Table of Contents
This chapter provides instructions for installing the NVIDIA driver. Note that after installation, but prior to using the driver, you must complete the steps described in Chapter 6, Configuring X for the NVIDIA Driver. Additional details that may be helpful for the new Linux user are provided in Appendix I, Tips for New Linux Users.
Before you begin the installation, exit the X server and terminate all OpenGL applications (note that it is possible that some OpenGL applications persist even after the X server has stopped). You should also set the default run level on your system such that it will boot to a VGA console, and not directly to X. Doing so will make it easier to recover if there is a problem during the installation process. See Appendix I, Tips for New Linux Users for details.
If you're installing on a system that is set up to use the Nouveau driver, then you should first disable it before attempting to install the NVIDIA driver. See Q & A 8.1, “Interaction with the Nouveau Driver” for details.
After you have downloaded the file
NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-515.86.01.run, change to
the directory containing the downloaded file, and as the
root user run the executable:
# cd yourdirectory # sh NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-515.86.01.run
.run file is a self-extracting
archive. When executed, it extracts the contents of the archive and
runs the contained
utility, which provides an interactive interface to walk you
through the installation.
nvidia-installer will also install
which may be used at some later time to uninstall drivers,
auto-download updated drivers, etc. The use of this utility is
detailed later in this chapter.
You may also supply command line options to the
.run file. Some of the more common options are
Print embedded info about the
file and exit.
Check integrity of the archive and exit.
Extract the contents of
./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-515.86.01.run, but do not
Print usage information for the common commandline options and exit.
Print usage information for common command line options as well as the advanced options, and then exit.
The NVIDIA kernel module has a kernel interface layer that must be compiled specifically for each kernel. NVIDIA distributes the source code to this kernel interface layer.
When the installer is run, it will check your system for the required kernel sources and compile the kernel interface. You must have the source code for your kernel installed for compilation to work. On most systems, this means that you will need to locate and install the correct kernel-source, kernel-headers, or kernel-devel package; on some distributions, no additional packages are required.
After the correct kernel interface has been compiled, the kernel
interface will be linked with the closed-source portion of the
NVIDIA kernel module. This requires that you have a linker
installed on your system. The linker, usually
/usr/bin/ld, is part of the binutils package. You
must have a linker installed prior to installing the NVIDIA
The installer will check for the presence of DKMS on your system. If DKMS is found, you will be given the option of registering the kernel module with DKMS, and using the DKMS infrastructure to build and install the kernel module. On most systems with DKMS, DKMS will take care of automatically rebuilding registered kernel modules when installing a different Linux kernel.
nvidia-installer is unable to
install the kernel module through DKMS, the installation will be
aborted and no kernel module will be installed. If this happens,
installation should be attempted again, without the DKMS
Note that versions of
nvidia-installer shipped with drivers before
release 304 do not interact with DKMS. If you choose to register
the NVIDIA kernel module with DKMS, please ensure that the module
is removed from the DKMS database before using a non-DKMS aware
install an older driver; otherwise, module source files may be
deleted without first unregistering the module, potentially leaving
the DKMS database in an inconsistent state. Running
nvidia-uninstall before installing a driver using
an older installer will invoke the correct
dkms remove command to clean up
Due to the lack of secure storage for private keys that can be
utilized by automated processes such as DKMS, it is not possible to
use DKMS in conjunction with the module signing support built into
Some kernels may require that kernel modules be
cryptographically signed by a key trusted by the kernel in order to
be loaded. In particular, many distributions require modules to be
signed when loaded into kernels running on UEFI systems with Secure
includes support for signing the kernel module before installation,
to ensure that it can be loaded on such systems. Note that not all
UEFI systems have Secure Boot enabled, and not all kernels running
on UEFI Secure Boot systems will require signed kernel modules, so
if you are uncertain about whether your system requires signed
kernel modules, you may try installing the driver without signing
the kernel module, to see if the unsigned kernel module can be
In order to sign the kernel module, you will need a private
signing key, and an X.509 certificate for the corresponding public
key. The X.509 certificate must be trusted by the kernel before the
module can be loaded: we recommend ensuring that the signing key be
trusted before beginning the driver installation, so that the newly
signed module can be used immediately. If you do not already have a
key pair suitable for module signing use, you must generate one.
Please consult your distribution's documentation for details on the
types of keys suitable for module signing, and how to generate
nvidia-installer can generate a
key pair for you at install time, but it is preferable to have a
key pair already generated and trusted by the kernel before
Once you have a key pair ready, you can use that key pair in
nvidia-installer by passing the keys
to the installer on the command line with the
--module-signing-public-key options. As an example,
it is possible to install the driver with a signed kernel module in
silent mode (i.e., non-interactively) by running:
# sh ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-515.86.01.run -s \ --module-signing-secret-key=/path/to/signing.key \ --module-signing-public-key=/path/to/signing.x509
In the example above,
signing.x509 are a private/public
key pair, and the public key is already enrolled in one of the
kernel's trusted module signing key sources.
On UEFI systems with secure boot enabled, nvidia-installer will present a series of interactive prompts to guide users through the module signing process. As an alternative to setting the key paths on the command line, the paths can be provided interactively in response to the prompts. These prompts will also appear when building the NVIDIA kernel module against a kernel which has CONFIG_MODULE_SIG_FORCE enabled in its configuration, or if the installer is run in expert mode.
In order to load a kernel module into a kernel that requires module signatures, the module must be signed by a key that the kernel trusts. There are several sources that a kernel may draw upon to build its pool of trusted keys. If you have generated a key pair, but it is not yet trusted by your kernel, you must add a certificate for your public key to a trusted key source before it can be used to verify signatures of signed kernel modules. These trusted sources include:
On kernels with
set, a certificate for the public key used to sign the in-tree
kernel modules is embedded, along with any additional module
signing certificates provided at build time, into the kernel image.
Modules signed by the private keys that correspond to the embedded
public key certificates will be trusted by the kernel.
Since the keys are embedded at build time, the only way to add a new public key is to build a new kernel. On UEFI systems with Secure Boot enabled, the kernel image will, in turn, need to be signed by a key that is trusted by the bootloader, so users building their own kernels with custom embedded keys should have a plan for making sure that the bootloader will load the new kernel.
On kernels with
CONFIG_MODULE_SIG_UEFI, in addition to any
certificates embedded into the kernel image, the kernel can use
certificates stored in the
PK databases of the computer's UEFI firmware to
verify the signatures of kernel modules, as long as they are not in
Any user who holds the private key for the Secure Boot
PK, or any of the keys in the
KEK list should be able to add new
keys that can be used by a kernel with
CONFIG_MODULE_SIG_UEFI, and any user with physical
access to the computer should be able to delete any existing Secure
Boot keys, and install his or her own keys instead. Please consult
the documentation for your UEFI-based computer system for details
on how to manage the UEFI Secure Boot keys.
Some distributions include utilities that allow for the secure
storage and management of cryptographic keys in a database that is
separate from the kernel's built-in key list, and the key lists in
the UEFI firmware. A prominent example is the MOK (Machine Owner
Key) database used by some versions of the
shim bootloader, and the associated management
Such a system allows users to enroll additional keys without the need to build a new kernel or manage the UEFI Secure Boot keys. Please consult your distribution's documentation for details on whether such a supplementary key database is available, and if so, how to manage its keys.
nvidia-installer can generate keys
that can be used for module signing, if existing keys are not
readily available. Note that a module signed by a newly generated
key cannot be loaded into a kernel that requires signed modules
until its key is trusted, and when such a module is installed on
such a system, the installed driver will not be immediately usable,
even if the installation was successful.
nvidia-installer generates a
key pair and uses it to sign a kernel module, an X.509 certificate
containing the public key will be installed to disk, so that it can
be added to one of the kernel's trusted key sources.
nvidia-installer will report the location of the
installed certificate: make a note of this location, and of the
certificate's SHA1 fingerprint, so that you will be able to enroll
the certificate and verify that it is correct, after the
installation is finished.
attempt to securely delete the generated private key with
shred -u after the module is signed.
This is to prevent the key from being exploited to sign a malicious
kernel module, but it also means that the same key can't be used
again to install a different driver, or even to install the same
driver on a different kernel.
nvidia-installer can optionally install the
private signing key to disk, as it does with the public
certificate, so that the key pair can be reused in the future.
If you elect to install the private key, please make sure that appropriate precautions are taken to ensure that it cannot be stolen. Some examples of precautions you may wish to take:
In general, physical access is required to install Secure Boot keys, including keys managed outside of the standard UEFI key databases, to prevent attackers who have remotely compromised the security of the operating system from installing malicious boot code. If a trusted key is available to remote users, even root, then it will be possible for an attacker to sign arbitrary kernel modules without first having physical access, making the system less secure.
One way to ensure that the key is not available to remote users is to keep it on a removable storage medium, which is disconnected from the computer except when signing modules.
Encrypting the private key can add an extra layer of security:
the key will not be useful for signing modules unless it can be
successfully decrypted, first. Make sure not to store unencrypted
copies of the key on persistent storage: either use volatile
storage (e.g. a RAM disk), or securely delete any unencrypted
copies of the key when not in use (e.g. using
shred instead of
rm). Note that using
shred may not be sufficient to fully purge data
from some storage devices, in particular, some types of solid state
It is possible to load the NVIDIA kernel module on a system that
requires signed modules, without using the installer's module
signing support. Depending on your particular use case, you may
find one of these alternatives more suitable than signing the
On some kernels, a requirement for signed modules is only enforced when booted on a UEFI system with Secure Boot enabled. Some users of such kernels may find it more convenient to disable Secure Boot; however, note that this will reduce the security of your system by making it easier for malicious users to install potentially harmful boot code, kernels, or kernel modules.
The kernel can be configured not to check module signatures, or to check module signatures, but allow modules without a trusted signature to be loaded, anyway. Installing a kernel configured in such a way will allow the installation of unsigned modules. Note that on Secure Boot systems, you will still need to ensure that the kernel be signed with a key trusted by the bootloader and/or boot firmware, and that a kernel that doesn't enforce module signature verification may be slightly less secure than one that does.
nvidia-installer runs, it
searches for a pre-compiled kernel interface layer for the target
kernel: if one is found, then the complete kernel module can be
produced by linking the precompiled interface with
nv-kernel.o, instead of needing to compile the
kernel interface on the target system.
nvidia-installer includes a feature which allows
users to add a precompiled interface to the installer package. This
is useful in many use cases; for example, an administrator of a
large group of similarly configured computers can prepare an
installer package with a precompiled interface for the kernel
running on those computers, then deploy the customized installer,
which will be able to install the NVIDIA kernel module without
needing to have the kernel development headers or a compiler
installed on the target systems. (A linker is still required.)
To use this feature, simply invoke the
.run installer package with the
--add-this-kernel option; e.g.
# sh ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-515.86.01.run --add-this-kernel
This will unpack
NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-515.86.01.run, compile a
kernel interface layer for the currently running kernel (use the
--kernel-output-path options to specify a target
kernel other than the currently running one), and create a new
installer package with the kernel interface layer added.
Administrators of large groups of similarly configured computers
that are configured to require trusted signatures in order to load
kernel modules may find this feature especially useful when
combined with the built-in support for module signing in
nvidia-installer. To package a .run
file with a precompiled kernel interface layer, plus a detached
module signature for the linked module, just use the
--module-signing-public-key options alongside the
--add-this-kernel option. The resulting
package, besides being installable without kernel headers or a
compiler on the target system, has the added benefit of being able
to produce a signed module without needing access to the private
key on the install target system. Note that the detached signature
will only be valid if the result of linking the precompiled
nv-kernel.o on the
target system is exactly the same as the result of linking those
two files on the system that was used to create the custom
installer. To ensure optimal compatibility, the linker used on both
the package preparation system and the install target system should
be the same.
Without options, the
executes the installer after unpacking it. The installer can be run
as a separate step in the process, or can be run at a later time to
get updates, etc. Some of the more important commandline options of
During installation, the installer will make backups of any conflicting files and record the installation of new files. The uninstall option undoes an install, restoring the system to its pre-install state.
The installer uses an ncurses-based user interface if it is able to locate the correct ncurses library. Otherwise, it will fall back to a simple commandline user interface. This option disables the use of the ncurses library.