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GPU servers on ECC

The following applies to both virtual and bare-metal GPU servers running Ubuntu 22.04.

Install Nvidia drivers on Ubuntu

To use the Nvidia GPU, you need to install its drivers.

sudo apt install -y nvidia-headless-525 nvidia-utils-525
sudo reboot

After rebooting, you can check that the GPU is working by running

nvidia-smi -L
GPU 0: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (UUID: GPU-289cb559-8297-6e00-b234-b1e4fb40fa95)

Disable default Ubuntu services

When using Nvidia GPUs for hardware acceleration in CUDA or VNC you might want to disable the automatic updates and power-saving features.

Disable automatic updates

When running nvidia-smi, you might see a message like this:

Failed to initialize NVML: Driver/library version mismatch

This typically happens because the Nvidia driver was updated automatically, while the Nvidia Management Library (NVML) was not (or vice versa). It can be fixed by rebooting the server.

You can disable automatic updates with

sudo systemctl stop apt-daily.service
sudo systemctl stop apt-daily.timer
sudo systemctl stop apt-daily-upgrade.service
sudo systemctl stop apt-daily-upgrade.timer
sudo systemctl disable apt-daily.service
sudo systemctl disable apt-daily.timer
sudo systemctl disable apt-daily-upgrade.service
sudo systemctl disable apt-daily-upgrade.timer

Just remember to run sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade manually from time to time.

Disable power saving

The hibernation feature can cause issues accessing the GPU, so you may want to disable it, along with the other power-saving features.

sudo systemctl stop nvidia-suspend.service
sudo systemctl stop nvidia-hibernate.service
sudo systemctl stop nvidia-resume.service
sudo systemctl disable nvidia-suspend.service
sudo systemctl disable nvidia-hibernate.service
sudo systemctl disable nvidia-resume.service
sudo systemctl mask

Remote desktop with hardware acceleration

If you need to run a graphical application on the server, you can use Virtual Network Computing (VNC) to access the server's desktop with hardware acceleration.


Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a type of remote desktop for running graphical applications on a remote server. GPU servers can be configured to enable server-side hardware-accelerated 3D rendering for OpenGL graphics software, such as Blender, MATLAB 3D simulations or fluid dynamics programs. The remote GPU renders the 3D image and streams it to your laptop.


VirtualGL redirects an application's OpenGL/GLX commands to a separate X server (that has access to a 3D graphics card), captures the rendered images, and then streams them to the X server that handles the application. Framerate performance depends largely on network speed.


Login to the server by SSH, and port forward remote screen 1 (port 5901) to localhost screen 2 (port 5902)

ssh -e none -L 5902:localhost:5901 -p 31759 ubuntu@

Set your timezone

sudo ln -fs /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Stockholm /etc/localtime

Install the latest Nvidia drivers, VirtualGL and TurboVNC, then add them to the executable path.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt install nvidia-headless-525 nvidia-utils-525 \
    libglu1-mesa libegl1-mesa libxv1 libxtst6 libxt6 x11-xkb-utils pkg-config

wget -O virtualgl.deb ""

wget -O turbovnc.deb ""

sudo dpkg -i virtualgl.deb turbovnc.deb

sudo bash -c 'echo "PATH=/opt/TurboVNC/bin:/opt/VirtualGL/bin:${PATH}" > /etc/profile.d/'

Reboot the server to load the drivers since nvidia-xconfig needs to access the GPU. If you already have a working /etc/X11/xorg.conf, you can skip this.

sudo reboot

After reboot, check that nvidia-smi finds a GPU, then configure VirtualGL.

sudo nvidia-xconfig
sudo modprobe -rf nvidia_drm nvidia_modeset nvidia_uvm nvidia
sudo vglserver_config +glx
sudo usermod -aG vglusers ubuntu

Install a desktop and remove any screensavers

sudo apt install xfce4 xfce4-goodies lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter xorg mesa-utils nvidia-settings
sudo apt -y remove light-locker xscreensaver xfce4-screensaver
sudo systemctl set-default

Reboot the server to load the drivers, reload user groups, and start various system services.

sudo reboot

Start the VNC server

vncserver -geometry 1920x1080 -localhost -3dwm -securitytypes none

Check that the server is running

vncserver -list

TurboVNC sessions:

:1             2536

If the server does not start, check the logs in /home/ubuntu/.vnc/ and /var/log/Xorg.0.log for errors. You may need to manually load the nvidia module with sudo modprobe nvidia.

You can now connect to the server using a VNC client, such as TigerVNC. Since you are forwarding port 5901 to port 5902 on localhost, you need to connect to VNC Server: localhost:2.

From the VNC client, start a terminal and check that direct rendering is working:

glxinfo | grep direct
direct rendering: Yes

You can also check that the GPU is working by running the Basemark GPU benchmark.

Basemark GUI