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In the Software & Updates app in Ubuntu 20.04, in the Additional Drivers tab, there is an NVIDIA Server Driver option that I don't remember seeing in previous Ubuntu releases. The package name is nvidia-driver-440-server.

What are the differences between this and nvidia-driver-440?

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  • The description from apt show is "NVIDIA Server Driver support binaries", which is not very helpful if you don't know how "NVIDIA Server Driver" is different from "NVIDIA driver". Jul 5 at 15:44

3 Answers 3

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Using apt-file list on the two packages, the files are identical -- the only difference is the name of the location, /usr/share/doc/nvidia-driver-440 vs. /usr/share/doc/nvidia-driver-440-server

Using apt-cache depends, the non-server metapackage has only the below five additional dependencies:

linux-modules-nvidia-440-aws  
linux-modules-nvidia-440-azure  
linux-modules-nvidia-440-gcp  
linux-modules-nvidia-440-oem-20.04  
linux-modules-nvidia-440-oracle  

--Looks like the ...server is a subset of the driver package without some possible vendor/cloud support.

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    They're both metapackages, so presumably the important differences are in what packages they pull in as dependencies, not what files they directly provide. Aug 15, 2020 at 21:06
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The nvidia-driver-440 meta package includes i386 libraries whereas the nvidia-driver-440-server meta package does not. These are required for running Steam.

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The main differences that I can identify (from the Ubuntu package lists) are the following:

  • NVIDIA drivers have the full set of packages, and is supported for up to 1 year (oldest version right now is 470 - previous versions point to this release).
  • NVIDIA server drivers have the full set of packages as well, and is supported up to 2 years (oldest version right now is 450 - previous versions point to this release).
  • NVIDIA headless drivers are a small subset, meant only for GPU computational tasks (but not graphics display). This package is also supported for up to 1 year (oldest version is 470).

Also, while comparing the newest versions (515 and 515-server), it is evident that the normal version have slightly higher version numbers than the server edition (0ubuntu0.22.04.2 vs. 0ubuntu0.22.04.1). This points at patches being rolled out marginally slower on the server package than on the normal one.

So from this it seems that the NVIDIA Server Driver package is identical to the normal driver package (with the full set of packages for both computation, video encoding/decoding and graphics), except that it is supported for an additional year plus updates are rolled out a bit slower compared to the normal package (which is probably more geared towards server applications that favor stability over new features).

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