I'm creating a file server with Ubuntu Server 16.04 LTS. The motherboard doesn't have a on-board graphics card so I'm using a Nvidia graphics card for the install. I've tested that I can install with this graphics card using the free nouveau drivers. I'm concerned about system stability. I know this same graphics card causes serious problems in Ubuntu Desktop when not using the non-free drivers.

So since I don't have a desktop or X installed, and will not be interacting with the machine locally, should I leave the default driver or install the non-free Nvidia driver?

I'm asking because I'm not sure if graphics card driver problems are restricted to X and desktop environments or if they are always in play and just become a bigger problem when working in desktop environments. Plus I don't want to install the non-free Nvidia drivers because I'm not sure how to prevent it from also installing a graphical desktop.

Thanks for any guidance here.


If you are using ubuntu server (or minimal via net-install) without X server and any desktop environment then you shouldn't install any graphics drivers (neither the opensource nor the proprietary) as they have xserver as dependency (see this http://packages.ubuntu.com/xenial/xserver-xorg-video-nouveau for the nouveau driver). The virtual terminal (console) that ubuntu uses (accessible with ctrl + alt + F1-F6 at any ubuntu flavor) doesn't need X server or graphic drivers to work.

  • I'm using Ubuntu Server and when I check it says the Kernel Driver in use: nouveau. That was installed by default on a fresh server install. If I shouldn't install any graphics drivers, what should I do with the default graphics drivers installed? Also, does that mean x is installed by default too since it's dependent on it? – jtlindsey Jul 20 '16 at 22:09
  • @jtlindsey I'm not an expert and I don't understand quite well how gpu drivers work in linux but you must be talking about the kernel driver, which is a module and can be unloaded or loaded but not a separate package to be installed or removed. Ubuntu server doesn't have any X drivers installed by default as the xserver-xorg-video-nouveau and you don't need any if you don't want to use a GUI. Maybe someone can give more info... – Thanos Apostolou Jul 21 '16 at 7:23

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