Fedora 23 & Nvidia - Are we gonna have a good time?

Updated: February 8, 2016

As you recall, a most remarkable thing happened about two months ago. Gnome 3 rejoined the circle of trust after being outside of it for a bunch of years, weeping, scratching at the glass like a zombie. Now, on top of Fedora 23, it is once again a rather decent, usable if not quite amazing desktop environment. Which means that Fedora has potential to be a distro de jour for me. Maybe, hopefully, finally, someday.

But for that to happen, we must have Nvidia's proprietary drivers installed. We talked about this before. I want to repeat the experiment, and see if Fedora 23 can deliver the same way some of its predecessors did. Given the fickle nature of the autumn crop, it makes for a very dire exercise. Let us. Let us.


Tools of the trade

I chooseth easyLife, which we discussed in my Fedora tools thingie article. It is a helper utility for Fedora users, and although you can get extra repos all done manually, as I've shown you with Fedora 22, you can also use the GUI to replenish the fun stuff and add the missing but essential living-la-vida-loca extras, like music codecs and whatnot.

After downloading the RPM package, I double-clicked and this launched the GUI package manager. It still seems broken for some reason, and it throws a bunch of errors. Luckily, dnf works fine from the command line. You need a couple of dependencies, and then easyLife will run.

Package manager

Package manager errors

Package manager timeouts

But then, all is cushty in the Fedora land:

easyLife, main

To boldly install

I marked the Nvidia entry, kissed a clove of garlic, crossed my fingers, and hit OK. Actually, I hit OK before crossing my fingers. The tool started working, installing new kernels, headers, sources, and all the good stuff you need. Then, the Nvidia package. Then, a big and juicy error that made me feel as if someone had just parked a crossbar in my gonads.

No match for argument: kmod-nvidia*
Error: No packages marked for upgrade.

Could not install package akmod-nvidia-340xx    [   FAIL   ]

Is this even relevant? What about other packages? Should one even ever bother looking at the console output of a typical easyLife run in the first place? Or just blissfully wait for the software to complete, and then reboot? This is exactly what I did.

A reboot a day keeps the doctor away

And after a tense couple of minutes, the system was up, the Nvidia splash was there, and the system had its drivers. There is no Nvidia utility available, which normally gives you fancy info, but you can check the presence of the kernel module from the command line. Alles Klar Herr Kommissar.

Nvidia working


What about memory and CPU utilization? Ignore the screenshot, as the system was crunching a bunch of CPU for no good reason. I let the post-boot nonsense settle down, and measure the numbers. Some of them were rather unchanged from the Nouveau setup!

This means either the drivers aren't really optimized - yet - especially for the old hardware, or maybe Nouveau has improved. Or both. But memory utilization is actually ever so slightly higher than before, at a whooping 1.1 GB rather than 1.0 GB. As far as the processor utilization goes, it is down by about 50%. Only about 5-6% rather than 10-15% that we saw in the original Fedora 23. The responsiveness is ever so slightly improved, but not by a huge margin. I guess old hardware has its limitations, and no amount of magic can help.


And we're all good. Yay! No fiasco, happy times, happy reviewer.



Well, I have to say I'm pleased with today's task. It went as expected, which is always a good thing. No regressions, no weird stuff. Almost. The FAIL error for one of the easyLife packages is somewhat alarming. If I had not looked at the console output, I might not even have noticed. But I have, and it is ever so slightly worrying me.

However, the end result is, our old laptop is working fine, with the Nvidia drivers in place and all that, and the CPU utilization is a bit lower than with Nouveau, so there's a small bonus to this escapade, too. More importantly, Fedora 23 did not disappoint, and it is a rare beacon of hope in what is otherwise a dreadful distro season for me. To wit, if any one of you is looking for a fresh experience, a little less Ubuntu a little more something else, Fedora 23 could be the right ingredient. We're done. Oh, we shall discuss Fedora and Nvidia again, if you're wondering, so stay tuned.


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