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How to Install NVIDIA GPU Drivers & CUDA

Anyone who’s set up a new Linux based, GPU enabled, deep learning system knows the horror that is driver installation. While it is technically possible to install NVIDIA drivers and CUDA from your package manager, the most up to date versions aren’t available and in the worst case you might even break graphics on your machine. After a great deal of difficulties installing and reinstalling, I finally found a viable strategy: installing both CUDA and proprietary Linux drivers from an NVIDA run file without OpenGL libraries.

The installation instructions shown below are largely taken from a two year old forum post on NVIDIA’s developer forum with a question asked by a user called NeuroSurfer and answered by txbob. I think it is worth reposting the instructions here because I’ve added a few things, and also because I think a formal post will help bring more exposure to this solution.

Without further ado, here is how to install NVIDIA drivers and CUDA on your Linux machine. I have tested these instructions on systems running Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04 and with Titan X and GTX 980 cards.

  1. Preferably start with a fresh install of your OS, but if you are hoping to avoid a full OS re-install you first need to purge your system of any existing NVIDIA drivers installed via the package manager.

    sudo apt-get remove --purge nvidia-*
  2. Download the run file for the CUDA version that you want. You can find the download link here. Make sure to get the run file and not the debian installer. Change the permissions of it so that it can be executed.

    chmod a+x .
  3. Verify that build-essential is installed

    sudo apt-get install build-essential
  4. Remove your xorg.conf if it exists

    sudo rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf
  5. Create a blacklist file for nouveau (default Ubuntu graphics) at /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-nouveau.conf. Put in the following contents:

    blacklist nouveau
    options nouveau modeset=0
  6. Update your kernel’s ramdisk

    sudo update-initramfs -u
  7. Reboot your machine, nothing should have changed

  8. Use Ctrl-Alt-F1 to drop to a terminal, log in.

  9. Stop your display manager. Lightdm is default for Ubuntu

    sudo service lightdm stop
  10. Navigate back to where you downloaded your run file. Run it and explicitly avoid installing OpenGL libraries with the command line option.

    sudo ./ --no-opengl-libs
    • Accept the EULA
    • Install the driver? Yes
    • Update the Xserver config? No
    • Install CUDA? Yes
    • Install the CUDA samples? Yes
  11. Install nvidia-modprobe. This avoids that annoying “cudaGetDeviceCount returned 30 -> unknown error” issue.

    sudo apt-get install nvidia-modprobe
  12. Edit your ~/.bashrc to update your path variables

    export PATH=/usr/local/cuda-7.0/bin:$PATH
    export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/cuda-7.0/lib64:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH
  13. Update your paths

    source ~/.bashrc
  14. Check that the CUDA version is correct.

    nvcc -V
  15. Check that your GPU’s are visible to the system and have the right driver versions.

  16. Reboot your system, pray to our Lord and Savior Elon Musk. If his kindly gaze falls upon you, you will have a fully functional CUDA enabled Linux machine. Enjoy!

  17. Troubleshooting and final thoughts

    If you experience a login loop (are able to get to the login screen but when you try to log in you are kicked back to the login screen) then it is likely that you forgot to include the --no-opengl-libs command when running the installation runfile.

    If after booting you see a black screen with a blinking unresponsive cursor, then you likely have something wrong with your display manager. Re-install lightdm or install and switch to gdm.

    Because this installation doesn’t go through the package manager you may experience issues when upgrading your kernel. If you’d like a way to automatically re-install on an update you may be interested in this solution as well.

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