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The Nouveau Pony Is Pulled, Ctx_Voodoo Ignored

Nouveau

Published on 12 December 2009 08:49 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau
46 Comments

As we shared yesterday morning, Nouveay would be entering the Linux 2.6.33 kernel as a staging driver. Last night Linus did indeed pull the drm-nouveau-pony branch. Linus' response on the matter was: "PONIES! Yay! I lurve ponies!"

Leading up to this though, Red Hat attributed Nouveau not entering the mainline tree sooner on the basis of some microcode/firmware concerns. Without sorting out the issue for this mysterious microcode, known as ctx_voodoo, they could not sign off on the code. As of right now, they haven't even fully resolved this situation but they are just having ctx_voodoo be loaded through the kernel's firmware loader interface. However, we have learned that ctx_voodoo is not even needed for all graphics cards and that Red Hat was just attempting to ignore this little fact.

This NVIDIA microcode is not even needed if you are using a NVIDIA TNT, GeForce 1, GeForce 2, GeForce 3, GeForce 4, or GeForce 5 series graphics cards. Only if you are using a GeForce 6 graphics card or later is ctx_voodoo even needed. Albeit, these voodoo-free graphics cards are older, but there's still likely many Linux users running them. In fact, those are the ones that in fact would likely be interested in Nouveau to a greater extent considering those GPUs are only supported by NVIDIA's legacy Linux drivers (and some of them are no longer even supported at all). NVIDIA's binary legacy drivers are very rarely updated and when legacy driver updates do come down they often just contain new X Server and Linux kernel compatibility fixes.

Theoretically we could have already had a Nouveau DRM driver in the Linux kernel without any of the ctx_voodoo support and it would have worked just fine with the TNT and GeForce 1/2/3/4/5 graphics cards.

Out of curiosity, if you plan to use the Nouveau driver coming up in the relative near future, respond to this thread and let us know what kind of NVIDIA graphics hardware you are running (i.e. GeForce FX 5200, GeForce 9800GTX, GeForce GT 220, Quadro FX1700, etc).

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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