Nvidia RTX 3080 on Debian Buster

In order to have an nvidia-driver version that supports the rtx3080, buster backports need to be enabled. The backports kernel needs to be manually installed in order for the driver to work correctly. Step-by-step described below.

Nvidia RTX 3080 on Debian Buster

The Nvidia RTX 3080 series cards are not natively supported on Debian Buster yet. This was to be expected as Debian is usually quite conservative concerning up-to-date Kernel versions and newest drivers. Nevertheless cards are out since +6 months now.

My internet search did not bring up any usable tutorials that's why I take a few minutes to write up my half-way clean approach. (I do like to stick to debian vanilla as close as possible, using the drivers from nvidia directly is therefore not a feasible option for me).

1 - Enable Buster backports

The most recent drivers that support RTX 3080 series cards are only available in backports.

Add this to your /etc/apt/sources.list or a file underneath /etc/apt/sources.list.d/

# buster-backports
deb buster-backports main contrib non-free


sudo apt update

2 - nvidia-driver installation

Install the nvidia-drivers

sudo apt install -t buster-backports nvidia-driver firmware-misc-nonfree

Now this does not seem to do the trick as it pulls linux-headers-amd64 (5.10) but not the required (currently 5.10) kernel. After a reboot it still fails to load the nvidia driver and the desktop environment won't launch.

3 - Install Kernel (5.10)

As the required Kernel (currently 5.10) is missing. Install the missing kernel with

sudo apt install -t buster-backports linux-image-amd64

This pulls the required kernel from backports and builds the required modules for the nvidia-driver. I prefer to not explicitly install a specific kernel version but rather have it pulled from backports and also the subsequent updates that may come in.

4 - Reboot & enjoy working drivers

After a reboot your favorite Desktop environment, gnome here, should now launch.