After months of speculations, and over a year of waiting for Linux SLI support, the NVIDIA 1.0-8XXX series have began to emerge in the hands of die-hard Linux users and although these drivers are only preliminary, they certainly have gamers on their heels. Any day now, NVIDIA has due out their official Rel80 Linux drivers, which will support many wonderful features including Scalable Link Interface (SLI), but our friends over at ASUS seem to have accidentally leaked the BETA 1.0-8168 drivers at their support center. As this was most likely attributed to human error, the download source has since been taken down but if you are serious about acquiring these drivers for yourself, you can find mirrors from Linux users raging on forums about this leaked piece of software. We would like to point out that the drivers that have surfaced are preliminary, were built on October 20, 2005, and will not be the final release candidate. These drivers were initially anticipated to be released in October, as we had shared several times before in previous articles, but obviously, this deadline has since passed. Our last communication with NVIDIA yielded an early November launch and we are suspecting these drivers will finally be made available within the next week.
Although we will save all of our benchmarking results and SLI guides for the official release of the NVIDIA Linux 1.0-8XXX drivers, what we have for you today are some initial features with these ASUS-leaked 1.0-8168 drivers. To start with, some of the new features include a new utility named nvidia-xconfig, which is used for configuring and updating your X setup, FBO (Frame Buffer Object) improvements, and most notably the initial support for Linux SLI. Differing from the Windows ForceWare drivers, the NVIDIA Linux SLI drivers have yet to implement any sort of application profile for SLI-optimized games and applications. Although this may sound nice not needing to create custom profiles, with these leaked NVIDIA drivers there is currently a less than beneficial experience in some games when using SLI. For reference, in this article we are using a Tyan K8E-SLI (S2866) nForce4 SLI with two GeForce 6600GT graphics cards. Unfortunately, the present NVIDIA settings panel remains nearly identical compared against its past driver builds.
NVIDIA's second notable addition with these leaked Rel80 Linux drivers is the encompassing of a new NVIDIA X configuration utility named nvidia-xconfig. This new command-line utility is nearly identical to that of ATI's aticonfig that Matthew Tippett presented a few releases ago. All the possible items from adding SLI support to your system to implementing Xinerama can all be done through nvidia-xconfig. If no options are passed through running this application, the utility will regenerate your xorg.conf and of course will backup the old version. On the next page of this article is a current list of all the NVIDIA configuration commands.
As we have mentioned already ASUS has since taken down the NVIDIA Rel80 drivers from their FTP server since the leak had been reported, but if you are truly interested in examining these latest drivers, you are likely to find mirrors of Linux users raging about their experience with these drivers on forums. Of course, the PR department at NVIDIA is attempting to downplay the entire situation by stating the leaked 1.0-8168 drivers are actually the 1.0-6111 drivers. If these drivers are what is claimed by NVIDIA as being 1.0-6111, which were released over a year ago, how the hell did we end up running Linux SLI as well as a new X configuration utility? Look forward for additional and thorough NVIDIA Linux Rel80 coverage at Phoronix upon its official launch in the very near future. For reference purposes, on the following page are the advanced commands that can be specified for NVIDIA's new nvidia-xconfig utility.