Nvidia pledge to help Linux's open source driver community
This week, it seems, everything is coming up Linux. First Valve announce their own Linux-based OS, and now, Nvidia are making moves to get more involved with the open source community. Nvidia's Andy Ritger contacted the developers of Nouveau - an open source, reverse-engineered version of Nvidia's proprietary drivers - offering information on the workings of their GPUs.
"NVIDIA is releasing public documentation on certain aspects of our GPUs," wrote Ritger, "with the intent to address areas that impact the out-of-the-box usability of NVIDIA GPUs with Nouveau. We intend to provide more documentation over time, and guidance in additional areas as we are able."
In the first instance, that means releasing info on Nvidia's Device Control Block layout, which I'm not going to attempt to explain because I'm not a tech journalist. Ritger admits that "much of the information in that document is not news for the Nouveau community," but that the official explanation should help strengthen Nouveau's implementation.
Speaking to Ars Technica, Ritger outlined Nvidia's future plan, saying, "more BIOS-related information is in the pipeline."
"Our goal is for the Nouveau driver to give NVIDIA users a reasonable out-of-the-box experience," he continued, "This entails things like successful GPU initialization, display configuration, and basic 2D and 3D rendering. The DCB and other BIOS-related information will hopefully help improve some scenarios where Nouveau had initialization problems, or display enumeration sorts of challenges."
Nvidia has had an interesting relationship with Linux in the past. While its proprietary drivers are reasonable - by Linux proprietary driver standards - their reluctance to help the community prompted Linux creator Linus Torvalds to call them the "single worst company" that developers could work with.