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Nouveau Driver Q&A

Published on 3 September 2007
Page 1 of 5 - 1 Comment

On the Phoronix Forums we have been running a Q&A with the developers of the Nouveau project. For those out of the loop or new to Linux, the Nouveau project aims to provide an open-source 2D/3D graphics driver for NVIDIA hardware. After collecting a number of questions from our readers, KoalaBR and Marcheu have answered these questions. The questions range from whether there will be open-source SLI support to asking if NVIDIA has ever contacted the Nouveau developers.

lejocelyn: I would like to know if there is some list of cards that the driver will support? Actually, it's to know if the old cards like the GeForce 2 GTS will be supported and what these kind of cards will be able to do, if it will support for example compiz-fusion or not (yeah, I'm dreaming).

We try to support all cards from NV04 (Riva TNT) up to the newest 8800 / 8600 cards. Obviously the older the card is, the more features will have to be emulated by software but accelerated 3D should be available in the end for all cards.

Compiz and Friends need good texturing support. We know how to support it, but haven't implemented it yet. So yes, Compiz should work on all cards, but no ETA yet on when this will be possible. EXA does work though (see our Nouveau Feature Matrix) which does use texturing.

Lejocelyn: Will Fedora 8 support by default the Nouveau driver?

Fedora Core - well there is an old package available for Fedora right now, it is packaged by Adam Jackson (and in the future probably by Robert Hughes / hughsie). But we don't see it as default yet:

- The kernel interface (DRM) is in flux and far from "in sync" with the Linux kernel one. Getting both to work is much work for the distro / packager.
- Nouveau isn't really stable. Although 2D works quite well, we still often hit hangs (both soft and hard).
- Our access to hardware is limited. We do have a bunch of cards available for development and testing but much more are missing. Setting nouveau as default would bury us alive beneath a heap of bug reports. Probably Fedora will offer us as an optional install, which would still increase the available testing base but prevent us from the mentioned heap of bug reports.
- Nouveau is often perceived as OSS 3D driver for NVidia. If you set this as a bar for your expectation, our current version will fail miserably (some cards offer glxgears, that's all for now). So to avoid bad press / word of mouth we don't want them to set us as default.

StringCheesian: What kind of official/corporate attention has the Nouveau project seen? Anything interesting or potential sources of manpower, info, or other help? nVidia, distros, etc?

The very short answer: Not much.

The more detailed one:

We do have some support by Fedora who is taking extra steps to offer us as an optional install (as for the reasons, see first questions). Ubuntu offered help on a blog from Mark Shuttleworth but as far as I know he didn't contact us yet. Nothing from Nvidia neither supportive nor CoD letters. Their head of Linux development, Andy Ritger, said that they will neither help us nor hinder us (for the last part we are really grateful).

Xorg sponsored the work of Arthur Huillet on Nouveau Xv support and he will stay with us after the summer too.

Otherwise support from websites like Phoronix.

To be honest though, what we need is support with testing, development, documentation. Getting capable Xorg driver developers is not an easy task, so that is a reason why we try to get a bit more publicity.

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