An Explosive Battle Over Nouveau Kernel DRM
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 5 March 2010 at 01:58 AM EST. 13 Comments
Like with most kernel release cycles, the Linux 2.6.34 kernel had another major GPU DRM update. There's core DRM improvements, the new hybrid graphics switching support, and advancements to the hardware-specific DRM bits. On the Nouveau side for NVIDIA hardware support, there is a major interface break that we talked about last month.

Breaking the Nouveau interface for the kernel DRM is causing the X.Org Server to stop working with this driver and forces the user to upgrade their non-kernel Nouveau drivers. While the Nouveau driver just entered the Linux 2.6.33 kernel unexpectedly at the request of Linus Torvalds himself, he is now outraged over this interface breaking. The Nouveau driver is in the kernel's staging area as the developers knew the API was likely not finalized, but because breaking this interface is huge and causes other problems on the system for NVIDIA users, Linus wants them to have a stable API even when it's living in the staging area.

Linus has talked about reverting the commit that causes the interface break to calling to the Nouveau developers to address the fundamental problems causing this break to taking other measures. Over the past day this has turned into a very heated discussion on the kernel mailing list and is certainly an interesting read. At this point, the commit causing the interface break has not been reverted in the Linux 2.6.34 code-base.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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