I think the movie part of this equation has been covered by the posts above.
If the comics were to be consulted on the matter, Nero was held in prison while the Klingons had his ship in orbital quarantine trying to analyse it and unlock its technology. Which they couldn't do, since it was too advanced for them with all the Borg tech and whatnot. They couldn't get it online and when they tried to take it apart it would repair itself.
Meanwhile, Nero builds a fearsome prison reputation, makes about 60 escape attempts and tries through the years to calculate when Spock's wormhole would open.
At some point the Narada goes online by itself and starts firing of Rura Penthe. Nero takes advantage of that and escapes to the ship which is now out of his control and goes to warp on its own to go find V'Ger.