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Old 09-16-09, 04:19 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 14
Default Instability of NVIDIA drivers on Linux 64 bit - thoughts?

I just bought a Hewlett Packard Z400 workstation, which I paid a pretty penny for. It's got a quad-core Xeon processor, 8 gigs of RAM, and an NVIDIA Quadro FX3800 PCIE graphics card (pretty high end and very recent).

I installed the amd64 variant of Debian Lenny 5.0.3 just a week ago. I then installed the latest official NVIDIA drivers (downloaded directly from the NVIDIA website). The driver version I installed is 185.18.36.

It seems that when I run 3D applications, things become unstable after a while. I know that this may be a common problem considering that NVIDIA drivers are closed-source and there can be no guarantee as to the stability of these drivers. However I need 3D acceleration for the kind of work that I am doing. I also need a 64 bit OS because some of the processes tha I launch need way more than 3 gigs of memory. All of the 3D applications that I am using, I compiled myself on this system.

Every few hours while I'm running some 3D applications, my desktop freezes up and becomes unresponsive, and the screen starts to flicker a little bit here and there. Sometimes I can regain control of the mouse an keyboard for a very short while, just long enough to save my work, but then things inevitably freeze up a short while after. I can log in through SSH from another computer, and I see that Xorg is using 100% CPU.

What would a general recommendation be to help resolve these issues? Wait for NVIDIA to release drivers that may have these problems fixed? Install the latest beta drivers? Downgrade the graphics card to something that has been around longer and for which there may be older drivers that are more stable? Or perhaps the problem is not necessarily the graphics drivers, it could be something else? Virtually all of my work consists of using 3D tools, so I have not really tested my computer extensively with just the "nv" driver (as opposed to "nvidia") nor have I tried to use my computer with the "nvidia" driver but without running 3D applications.

It's funny that my Z400 workstation came with the Linux Installation Kit which consists of 3 CDs of drivers for Red Hat systems, and instructions for installing Red Hat and using the drivers on those CDs. Perhaps HP has more extensively tested Red Hat on the Z400 and maybe if I follow their directions for installing Red Hat onto my workstation, things may be a little bit more stable? Although I really want to stick with using Debian.

Any general thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated. I'm not asking for a fix, because I think there is none.
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