As its name suggests, Nvidia FreeBSD Legacy Display Driver 32-bit is a proprietary OpenGL video driver that provides users with support for old (legacy) Nvidia graphics cards on any computer that runs the FreeBSD operating system or similar BSD variants. This version has been designed to supports only the 32-bit instruction set architecture. For 64-bit support, see this link.

It’s distributed in multiple branches! Which one is right for me?

Nvidia FreeBSD Legacy Display Driver 32-bit is distributed in four different branches, including 304.xx series, 173.14.xx series, 96.43.xx series and 71.86.xx series, each one designed to support a certain number of Nvidia GPUs (Graphics Processing Units). As expected, the driver with the highest version number support more recent legacy video cards than the one with a lower version number.

Installing the Nvidia FreeBSD Legacy Display Driver 32-bit

In order to install the Nvidia FreeBSD Legacy Display Driver on your FreeBSD machine, you will first need to install the kernel headers and download the driver for your Nvidia graphics card (see the section above for details) from the Downloads section above.

Save the tarball file on your Home directory and extract it using the “tar xzf” command, where is the version number of the driver. Then, you must compile and install the driver using the “cd && make install” command in a console (tty) window.

During the installation, the X configuration file will be automatically optimized for your Nvidia video card, but you can also edit it manually using a command-line text editor. Set the driver as default with the “nvidia-xconfig” command from an X11 terminal emulator.

Bottom line

Even if it provides a settings panel, the Nvidia FreeBSD Display Driver is not an application. It is a hardware driver, which comes with various instructions that tell an operating system how to use a piece of hardware.