The Unthinkable Has Happened: Nvidia Finally Adopted Open Source GPU Drivers

No, hell didn’t freeze over, and April Fools’ Day is long past. Nvidia has indeed announced that it is moving to an open source Linux GPU kernel for its latest and greatest graphics cards. Previously open source GPU anything was AMD’s only reservation, but from now on you can go to GitHubGenericName and download the Nvidia kernel modules source code from the Nvidia Open GPU Kernel Modules repository.

the green team is calling it “a significant step towards improving the experience of using NVIDIA GPUs on Linux, for tighter integration with the operating system, and for developers to debug, integrate and contribute back.” And, as someone who has slammed several Linux distributions Difficult in the past, I’ll join the chorus of people saying it’s about time.

Mostly I struggled in the past because I couldn’t get my modern Nvidia graphics cards to work well with things as exotic as a desktop environment or a multi-monitor setup. Much less actually playing. With this recent change, however, it means developers and distribution providers will be able to better integrate driver support into their software.

Previously it was a bit of a crapshoot.

You had to use Nvidia’s proprietary drivers, which had a unique approach to distro support, where it certainly didn’t. He knows, everything fits.

So is this Nvidia’s panacea for gaming on Linux? I spoke with Jonni Bidwell, technical editor of the leading Linux publication, Linux formatabout why this happened and what this announcement really means to the end user.

“It’s a good start, certainly,” he tells me. “They have a huge range of hardware (much of the older stuff is now only supported by the reverse-engineered Nouveau driver) and they’ve chosen to open up bits of source code for new models. machine is already geared towards Nvidia and CUDA (Leela chess zero, the open source chess neural network, for example, doesn’t work very well with AMD and OpenCL).

“Having a fully open stack is easier to debug and develop. And I hope I don’t have more graphics after a kernel update because something broke.”

(Image credit: Future)

Does this mean that with better Nvidia driver support we will get better gaming performance? Unfortunately, probably not, at least not right away.

“They say the drivers are ‘alpha quality’ for end users right now,” says Bidwell. “But the change will certainly help games to some extent, although I doubt that ‘open’ immediately translates to ‘moar fps’. aspiring driver developers to do the reverse.

“The modules have not yet been accepted into the kernel, and there will probably be some back and forth with that. Once they are, it will take a while before they are picked up by the major distributions.”

In addition to the growing importance of machine learning and the fact that Linux is prevalent in data center and supercomputer environments, Nvidia’s openness will also be, at least in part, due to competition.

“Nvidia has always been a black sheep for Linux,” says Bidwell, “as at this point their driver is really the only proprietary driver that regular users have to deal with. And they generally don’t like it. gaining parity with AMD’s open driver strategy. Which was also glorious news when it was announced.”

This is indeed a significant moment in the cause of Linux and for gaming on Linux. This year might not exactly be the ‘Year of Linux Gaming’ as a genuine alternative to Windows, but with Nvidia opening up, the success of steam deckand the potential of Valve’s SteamOS 3.0 and its Proton technology, things certainly look more possible in that regard.

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