Setting up environment for Stable Diffusion for image creation

We all know that cool pictures created by AI tools like DALL-E, Midjourney, and so on. But they can also be generated locally without connecting to an external service with your own computer if a few requirements are met. This blog post will concentrate on installing the basic requirements and creating a first test image.

One note upfront: If you want fast results the easiest way to generate pictures is AUTOMATIC1111’s Stable Diffusion web UI most probably. But still this guide might help to meet the basic requirements to get it running. But I wanted to do it programmically. So if you search for a nice UI this guide is not for you. Well, if you consider Visual Studio Code with Jupyter Notebook support a UI then it still might be for you 😉

The most important part most probably is a fast GPU and some GPU memory. The more the better of course. 8 GByte memory for the graphics card is recommended. With lower memory only smaller images can be generated. In my case it’s a NVIDIA RTX 4080 SUPER with 16 GByte. NVIDIA is generally recommended as it has best support. AMD GPU support is getting better but it’s still not there. Additionally at least 32 GByte of computer memory (RAM) makes a lot of sense. A fast CPU and a big and fast NVME/SSD drive is too 😉

First I installed Ubuntu 24.04. This of course depends on your environment and maybe Ubuntu is already installed on your PC.

After logging in lets check which NVIDIA drivers are available:


apt-cache search 'nvidia-driver-' | grep '^nvidia-driver-[[:digit:]]*' | sort -k 3 -t '-'

The output will look similar to this (partitial output):


nvidia-driver-535 - NVIDIA driver metapackage
nvidia-driver-535-open - NVIDIA driver (open kernel) metapackage
nvidia-driver-535-server - NVIDIA Server Driver metapackage
nvidia-driver-535-server-open - NVIDIA driver (open kernel) metapackage
nvidia-driver-550 - NVIDIA driver metapackage
nvidia-driver-550-open - NVIDIA driver (open kernel) metapackage
nvidia-driver-550-server - NVIDIA Server Driver metapackage
nvidia-driver-550-server-open - NVIDIA driver (open kernel) metapackag

How to install the drivers is written in detail in NVIDIA drivers installation. Here is the short version. The easiest way is to use ubuntu-drivers command. To get this lets install it:


sudo apt install ubuntu-drivers-common

The next command lists which drivers are available for the GPU installed. For the NVIDIA RTX 4080 SUPER it’s currently only nvidia-driver-550. E.g.:


sudo ubuntu-drivers list

The list looks like this:


nvidia-driver-550-server-open, (kernel modules provided by nvidia-dkms-550-server-open)
nvidia-driver-550-server, (kernel modules provided by nvidia-dkms-550-server)
nvidia-driver-550-open, (kernel modules provided by nvidia-dkms-550-open)
nvidia-driver-550, (kernel modules provided by nvidia-dkms-550)

To automatically install the driver use this command:


sudo ubuntu-drivers install

Before installing NVIDIA CUDA Toolkit (a development environment for creating high-performance, GPU-accelerated applications) the GNU Compiler Collection needs to be installed:


sudo apt install gcc

Next install NVIDIA CUDA Toolkit:


sudo apt install nvidia-cuda-toolkit

Now reboot the computer (to activate the GPU driver):


sudo reboot

To check if the driver works as expected the nvidia-smi utility can be used. This needs the following package to be installed (the number matches the driver version):


sudo apt install nvidia-utils-550-server

The output should look similar to this:


| NVIDIA-SMI 550.90.07              Driver Version: 550.90.07      CUDA Version: 12.4     |
| GPU  Name                 Persistence-M | Bus-Id          Disp.A | Volatile Uncorr. ECC |
| Fan  Temp   Perf          Pwr:Usage/Cap |           Memory-Usage | GPU-Util  Compute M. |
|                                         |                        |               MIG M. |
|   0  NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 ...    Off |   00000000:08:00.0 Off |                  N/A |
|  0%   45C    P8             15W /  320W |    6455MiB /  16376MiB |      0%      Default |
|                                         |                        |                  N/A |
| Processes:                                                                              |
|  GPU   GI   CI        PID   Type   Process name                              GPU Memory |
|        ID   ID                                                               Usage      |
|    0   N/A  N/A      4143      C   /home/cetixx/pytorch/bin/python              6448MiB |

At this point you’re basically also setup to install AUTOMATIC1111’s Stable Diffusion web UI if you want. But even in this case a Python Virtual Environment might make sense. This is extremely useful to not mess with the Python packages that are installed by the system. So you can create a venv basically for every experiment you make and if that one is no longer needed just delete the whole directory and everything is gone. To install Python venv use this command:


sudo apt install python3-virtualenv

Lets create a Python venv for Stable Diffusion. The target directory should have at least 10 Gbyte free space for the first experiments. But at the end it could be much more the more models you download e.g. So again: More is better 😉


python -m virtualenv stablediffusion

This will create a directory called stablediffusion. Lets cd stablediffusion. Then the Python venv needs to be activated:


source bin/activate

This will change the location of your Python interpreter. which python can be used to check if the python command of the venv is used. The result should be similar to <home_of_venv_directory>/bin/python.

Hugging Face Diffusers library depends on PyTorch. So lets download and install that one. PyTorch is available in various versions. ROCm is for AMD GPU users e.g. There is also one if you only want to use the CPU (that’s normally very slow). And currently there is a version for CUDA 11.8 and CUDA 12.1. As I’ve a NVIDIA GPU I need the CUDA variant. Also I’ll install PyTorch via pip (the Python package manager). Lets check which CUDA version is installed. This is needed to select the correct PyTorch variant:


nvcc --version

The output will be similar to this:


nvcc: NVIDIA (R) Cuda compiler driver
Copyright (c) 2005-2023 NVIDIA Corporation
Built on Fri_Jan__6_16:45:21_PST_2023
Cuda compilation tools, release 12.0, V12.0.140
Build cuda_12.0.r12.0/compiler.32267302_0

In the case above it’s CUDA 12. That does not completely match what’s available for PyTorch. Instead of CUDA 12.0 I’ll choose CUDA 12.1 in the next step. With all the information lets open PyTorch’s Start locally page. Select

  • PyTorch Build: Stable
  • Your OS: Linux
  • Package: Pip
  • Language: Python
  • Compute Platform:: CUDA 12.1

If done the value of Run this Command: will be:


pip3 install torch torchvision torchaudio --index-url

Lets execute the following commands in the Python venv to install Hugging Face Diffusers package and a few dependencies:


pip install diffusers
pip install transformers scipy ftfy accelerate

To make life a bit easier for the Python coding lets install Visual Studio Code with the following commands:


wget -qO- | gpg --dearmor >
sudo install -D -o root -g root -m 644 /etc/apt/keyrings/
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=amd64,arm64,armhf signed-by=/etc/apt/keyrings/] stable main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/vscode.list'
sudo apt update
sudo apt install code

Lets start VSCode by running code command. There are two very useful extensions that should be installed after VSCode is launched:

  • Python: E.g. provides auto-completion for Python code and other features.
  • Jupyter: Provides basic notebook support for language kernels that are supported in Jupyter Notebooks today, and allows any Python environment to be used as a Jupyter kernel. According to the Jupyter Notebook documentation: A computational notebook is a shareable document that combines computer code, plain language descriptions, data, rich visualizations like 3D models, charts, graphs and figures, and interactive controls. A notebook, along with an editor like Jupyter Notebook, provides a fast interactive environment for prototyping and explaining code, exploring and visualizing data, and sharing ideas with others.. At the end it allows you to type a few lines of Python code and execute it within VSCode. So you can develop your code step by step and see the result immediately.

Restart VSCode afterwards to have everything properly setup.

Click View and Command Palette.... Search for Create: New Jupyter Notebook. This will create a file called Untitled-1.ipynb. In the editor panel you can now start typing the code for the Stable Diffusion pipeline. E.g.:


import torch
from diffusers import StableDiffusionPipeline
pipe = StableDiffusionPipeline.from_pretrained(

This can take a while. If that is done an example image can be created:


prompt = "a photorealistic airbus a380 plane flying in the air, background: blue sky with some white clouds"
image = pipe(
    prompt, num_inference_steps=30

In my case the image looks like this but your image will look quite different most probably:


Not bad for the beginning but also not totally awesome 😉 But for now that’s it! Happy image creation!