We know NVIDIA has been working on a new Linux display driver release, with the GeForce 9 series having been introduced just this past week, and today a new driver release has arrived for Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD. However, this new 169.12 display driver doesn't introduce support for the GeForce 9600GT and its official changes are limited to maintenance items.
The release highlights for the NVIDIA 169.12 driver include improving power management support for GeForce 8 series GPUs, improved stability on some GeForce 8 series GPUs, further improved GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap out-of-memory handling, nvidia-xconfig fix for modifying xorg.conf configurations without a "Module" section, and various bug-fixes. Among the other bug-fixes are addressing a bug that broke TwinView with TV-Out on some G80 GPUs, incorrect PowerMizer state being reported, and OpenGL crash fixes (the release notes mention running Counter-Strike with WINE). That's it for the official changes in this binary driver release.
The NVIDIA 169.12 driver replaces the 169.09 release, which was released just a month ago and consisted of maintenance fixes. Since that, however, NVIDIA had quietly released the 171.05 Linux driver. NVIDIA's 171.05 driver is only endorsed for use with their Tesla S870 GPU Computing Systems, but we have had no problems using this driver with GeForce ASICs. Most notably in this driver update was introducing an nvidia-smi utility, for providing system-state and diagnostic information using the System Management Interface. Interestingly though, today's driver release still resides in the 169.xx branch.
With NVIDIA's binary driver continuing to lack support for the GeForce 9600GT and this most recent driver still being based in the 169.xx series, we wonder what NVIDIA may be working on for the near future, but we will save that for another article. When it comes to the changes found in the 169.12 driver, we welcome especially the continued GeForce 8 bug-fixes and further improvements to GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap out-of-memory handling. We are still exploring today's release to see if there are any other unpublicized changes of interest, but so far there is none.