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NVIDIA Developer Talks Openly About Linux Support

Michael Larabel

Published on 20 October 2009
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 5 of 8 - 131 Comments

Q: Overall, what percentage of NVIDIA's customers do you believe use Linux?

I don't know many concrete percentages. Highend workstation visualization is roughly half Linux, and Digital Content Creation (DCC) is largely Linux. NVIDIA Linux graphics powers a respectable portion of the 3D workstations. Our CUDA user base also has a large Linux contingent.

However, the number of Linux driver downloads from nvidia.com is only 0.5% the number of nvidia.com Windows driver downloads. Of course, many Linux users get our driver through distro packages and other means that wouldn't be measured in that download figure.

Measuring the size of the NVIDIA Linux user base has always been a challenge for us.

Q: Do you believe that the overall market-share for Linux will continue to grow?

Yes, I believe so. As long as the NVIDIA Linux team does our job well, our staples in workstation will remain solid.

There is growing interest in netbook and handheld Linux use. There are IPTV sorts of uses with products like Boxee.

Desktop remains elusive for Linux, but distros like Ubuntu have made Linux more accessible to the casual user.

Q: Within the next 12 months, where do you hope the NVIDIA Linux driver will be in regards to features, adoption, and support?

Within the next year, there will be lots of new hardware support, and we should have resolved the buffer presentation/synchronization problems within composited X desktops (see [13] and [14]). I expect we'll also expose VDPAU interoperability with OpenGL and CUDA/OpenCL.

Thanks to the recent developments in the FreeBSD community to address our long standing list of issues on that platform [15], we should finally be able to provide an NVIDIA FreeBSD x86_64 driver.

No doubt there will be much more. Some of the questions in this interview may guide some of our future prioritization.

Q: What are the NVIDIA Linux engineers' view on the Gallium3D driver architecture?

The architecture is quite good. For the reasons I mentioned earlier, there isn't really opportunity for NVIDIA's driver to hook into this. But the Gallium3D guys are doing great work.

Q: How are NVIDIA's efforts going in supporting RandR 1.2/1.3 within the driver?

I really apologize that RandR 1.2+ support on NVIDIA has been so long in coming. When it first came up, the urgency didn't seem very high, because we already had our dynamic TwinView support. Then, numerous other projects came up and took precedence. Since then, RandR has suffered from hovering just below the cut-line.

I really hope we can get back to this soon.

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