1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

NVIDIA Is Joining The Linux Foundation

NVIDIA

Published on 07 March 2012 01:00 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA
18 Comments

NVIDIA will be joining the Linux Foundation, per an announcement coming out in the morning. But for open-source Linux fans, will this be a reason to rejoice about NVIDIA potentially moving forward with open-source drivers? Don't break out the champagne quite yet.

NVIDIA is getting in bed with the Linux Foundation, along with three other to-be-announced companies, as the latest effort to expand this Linux organization. However, it's looking to be more of a mobile play for the company rather than to get in on the open-source GPU driver space by either supporting the open-source Nouveau driver project, to put out other code and documentation, or some other organized effort. The area that's hot right now is their Tegra platform.

NVIDIA's had years to change their position on Linux graphics driver licensing, but they haven't for well-known reasons with their shared code-base between platforms, interwoven third-party intellectual property, and other competitive reasons. They also seem quite happy with their current approach of working on their first-rate Linux/BSD/Solaris proprietary graphics driver that shares many of the same features and performance abilities with their official Windows driver. NVIDIA's stance on the Nouveau project has been to not do anything to help nor hinder the project.

NVIDIA says they are committed to the best experience and innovation with their GPU and mobile products, from Wednesday's announcement catering to Linux fans. By joining the Linux Foundation they hope to increase their collaboration with Linux stakeholders in order to benefit users and developers. (One recent example of attempted collaboration was NVIDIA trying to collaborate with Linux kernel developers about using the DMA-BUF infrastructure within their drivers, but that was largely rejected by kernel developers on licensing merits.)

Many NVIDIA GeForce customers are quite satisfied with the NVIDIA Linux status quo considering that their proprietary Linux driver does generally work very well, is actively supported, quickly supports new versions of the Linux kernel and X.Org, timely enables new hardware at launch, and all-around tends to work great for its users. The reverse-engineered Nouveau driver is available, but its performance is not always great, burns through excessive power, and has other feature limitations.

In the mobile space, the NVIDIA Tegra graphics are powered by a binary blob. They do have open kernel patches and other work already for the less controversial areas of their multi-core ARM platforms. They do make their Tegra Linux ARM experience not too bad by offering an Ubuntu-based spin and a fair amount of documentation to get started (I'm currently working on some benchmarks for them from their quad-core Tegra 3 development tablet and previously provided NVIDIA Tegra 2 benchmarks).

While some are getting excited after sharing this news of NVIDIA joining the Linux Foundation, again, it doesn't necessarily mean any fundamental changes. Joining the Linux Foundation as a corporate member basically means you're providing money and other resources to this non-profit Linux group. Members of the Linux Foundation aren't mandated to open-source their software, port their software to Linux, or to otherwise become a Linux saint.

Among the many Linux Foundation members are VIA (their open-source strategy failed and really haven't been doing anything), AMD (they're still happy with their Catalyst binary blob while the open-source support is still lagging), Adobe (they abandoned Flash Player for Linux and most of their software is not available natively under Linux), Oracle (enough said with their share of controversies in various open-source communities), and a host of mobile-focused firms like ARM / Qualcomm / Samsung that don't ship full open-source graphics drivers for Linux (the best case to date for them has been open-source kernel drivers with closed-up user-space components, some of which are being reverse-engineered).

As far as end-users are directly affected, being on the Linux Foundation member list is almost like being on the Free Software Foundation's high priority project list, which comes without any guarantees. It would be wonderful if NVIDIA joining the Linux Foundation marked some fundamental shift to dramatically enhance the NVIDIA Linux user/developer experience, but at least for now it doesn't look that way.

Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. ASUS AM1I-A: A Mini-ITX Board For Socketed Kabini APUs
  2. Mini-Box M350: A Simple, Affordable Mini-ITX Case
  3. Overclocking The AMD AM1 Athlon & Sempron APUs
  4. AMD Athlon 5350 / 5150 & Sempron 3850 / 2650
Latest Linux Articles
  1. Ubuntu 12.04.4 vs. 13.10 vs. 14.04 LTS Desktop Benchmarks
  2. AMD OpenCL Performance With AM1 Kabini APUs
  3. A Quick Look At GCC 4.9 vs. LLVM Clang 3.5
  4. Are AMD Athlon/Sempron APUs Fast Enough For Steam On Linux?
Latest Linux News
  1. FreeBSD Advances For ARM, Bhyve, Clang
  2. Ubuntu 14.04 LTS "Trusty Tahr" Officially Released
  3. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS vs. 14.04 LTS Server Benchmarks
  4. QEMU 2.0 Released With ARM, x86 Enhancements
  5. Running The Unity 8 Preview Session On Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  6. R600 Gallium3D Disables LLVM Back-End By Default
  7. Fedora 21 Gets GNOME 3.12, PHP 5.6, Mono 3.4
  8. Fedora Workstation Is Making Me Quite Excited
  9. Maynard: A Lightweight Wayland Desktop
  10. Chromium Browser Going Through Growing Pains In Ubuntu 14.04
  11. KDE 4.13 Is Being Released Today With New Features
  12. Trying Out Radeon R9 290 Graphics On Open-Source
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Linux Kernel Developers Fed Up With Ridiculous Bugs In Systemd
  2. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  3. The GNOME Foundation Is Running Short On Money
  4. Radeon 8000M problematic on Linux?
  5. After Jack Keane, RuseSoft will briing Ankh 3 to Linux through Desura
  6. Suspected PHP Proxy Issue
  7. Change installation destination from home directory
  8. Bye bye BSD, Hello Linux: A Sys Admin's Story