What is the difference between the proprietary and open source nVidia drivers?
The main difference between open source drivers and closed (proprietary) drivers is performance. The proprietary nVidia driver has much better 3D performance than the current driver for nVidia cards packaged with Fedora, called nouveau. However, keep in mind that nouveau is completely open and free, while the nVidia's proprietary driver is closed source. This means that sometimes a bug in the driver can't be fixed or an incompatibility cannot be resolved until nVidia decides to release an updated proprietary driver.
Identifying your card model
If you are unsure about which graphics card is installed in your computer, open a terminal and type:
/sbin/lspci | grep VGA
Your card model should be printed on the screen.
Installing the most recent driver
Please note that any card below and including the GeForce FX series is no longer supported by the mainstream nvidia drivers. If you own a 5xxx series card or lower, please continue reading the next sections. If you own a 6xxx series card or higher, install the xorg-x11-drv-nvidia package.
173xx series legacy driver
The 173xx driver is for GeForce "FX" or GeForce 5200 users. Install the xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-173xx package.
96xx series legacy driver
The 96xx driver is for GeForce 2 through 4 users, including the GeForce 4 MX. Install the xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-96xx package.
71xx series legacy driver
Users of Riva or TNT cards must install the xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-legacy package.
A note for x86_64 (64-bit) users
If you installed the x86_64 version of Fedora, you may wish to install an additional package which will enable 3D rendering in 32-bit application you run. To do so, simply install the xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-libs.i386 package. If you have a legacy card, you will need to adjust the package name to reflect the legacy series installed. For example, 96xx users must install xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-libs-96xx.i386.
Reboot & test
The last step for driver installation is to regenerate the initrd image and reboot. Similar to fglrx and radeon, the nouveau and nvidia kernel modules are incompatible. Because in Fedora 11 nouveau had been made the default and like radeon, is present in the initrd image, it must be removed before the nvidia driver will work correctly. Here's how:
su - mv /boot/initrd-$(uname -r).img /boot/initrd-$(uname -r)-nouveau.img mkinitrd /boot/initrd-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r)
If the commands above ran successfully, restart your system. You can test if the driver is configured correctly correctly by opening a terminal and typing:
If the animation is smooth, then the drivers were successfully installed.
Further reading and troubleshooting tips
For more information and troubleshooting tips, visit the xorg-x11-drv-nvidia page on the RPM Fusion wiki.