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I have noticed that the additional/restricted drivers control panel allows me to select a nvidia GPU driver and the options are 173 and current. What are the differences between the two? Are there reasons someone might choose to use 173 vs the current version when the current version is the recommended version?

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The nvidia-current driver is the most recent driver for newer cards. You only want to use nvidia-173 if you've an old card that is not supported by the nvidia-current driver, i.e. the GeForce 5 series.

There is also a nvidia-96 driver for even older cards, the GeForce 2 through 4 series.

It can be read in the description of the packages and Current NVIDIA Linux graphics driver releases.

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