The Most Popular NVIDIA Linux News + Milestones Of 2020

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 30 December 2020 at 08:20 PM EST. 9 Comments
NVIDIA's RTX 30 "Ampere" launch was quite a success for 2020 along with new Jetson products and more. Meanwhile on the Linux front this year NVIDIA's proprietary driver continued providing same-day support, features roughly at parity to Windows, and little bread crumbs of open-source support so far. But there still are indications of more possible open-source actions to come as well as potentially better Wayland support to look forward to in 2021.

Sadly there was not any major NVIDIA open-source announcement for 2020 as was originally scheduled pre-pandemic for some sort of announcement to happen at GTC. But it looks like something is still brewing and will hopefully learn more not too far into 2021 on what parts of the driver stack NVIDIA can be potentially opening up. Meanwhile the Nouveau driver support did see initial Turing GPU support this year but it's still crippled like all the GPUs since the GTX 900 series in not being able to reliably re-clock to hit the rated clock frequencies.

Meanwhile on the NVIDIA driver Wayland front they are working on DMA-BUF passing support that will allow for better Wayland compositor integration.

As for the most popular NVIDIA Linux stories on Phoronix for 2020 (just the news items, not counting reviews/benchmark featured articles) they include:

There Is Finally Open-Source Accelerated NVIDIA Turing Graphics Support
Here is another big feature coming for Linux 5.6: the Nouveau driver will have initial accelerated support for NVIDIA "Turing" GPUs! This is coming at long-last with NVIDIA set to release publicly the Turing firmware images needed for hardware initialization.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3000 Series Launches With Impressive Specs, Competitive Pricing
As widely expected amid a constant flow of rumors and leaks in recent weeks, NVIDIA just revealed their GeForce RTX 3000 "Ampere" series.

NVIDIA Contributes Much Less To The Linux Kernel Than Intel Or AMD
Yesterday I put together some statistics on the AMD vs. Intel contributions to the upstream Linux kernel during the 2010s, but a request coming in off that was how do NVIDIA's contributions compare. Here is a look at the NVIDIA contributions to the Linux kernel over the past decade.

Linux 5.9 Brings Safeguard Following NVIDIA's Recent "GPL Condom" Incident
Stemming from the recent discussions over NVIDIA NetGPU code that relied on another shim for interfacing between NVIDIA's proprietary driver and the open-source kernel code, a new patch is on the way for Linux 5.9 to fight back against such efforts.

ASUS Releases Graphics Card That Could Actually Be Great For Open-Source NVIDIA Fans
ASUS has released a new budget graphics card that could actually be great for those wanting to use the open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) driver stack on Linux.

Kernel Developers Work To Block NVIDIA "GPL Condom" Effort Around New NetGPU Code
Linux kernel developers are working on tightening up the access around GPL-only kernel symbols and kernel shims that interface with proprietary kernel modules. This latest work is being driven by code recently put out for improving the Linux networking code where NVIDIA's proprietary kernel driver would be the initial consumer.

An Early Benchmark Of The NVIDIA CUDA GPU Performance On WSL2
Our recent benchmarks have shown WSL/WSL2 performance on the latest Windows 10 builds to generally be quite good compared to running bare metal Linux. But past the May 2020 Update and on the latest Insider Preview builds is the initial support for GPU acceleration in conjunction with updated Windows graphics drivers. The initial emphasis is on GPU compute with DirectML and for NVIDIA hardware CUDA support as well. Here are a couple CUDA benchmarks that ran gracefully under WSL2 albeit the performance leaves a lot to be desired.

NVIDIA Posts Firmware Needed For Open-Source GeForce 16 Series Acceleration
As written about last week, in the works for the Linux 5.7 kernel this spring is open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" acceleration for the GeForce 16 series. That code is currently sitting in the Nouveau development tree until landing in DRM-Next for Linux 5.7, but NVIDIA has now posted the necessary firmware binaries needed for enabling the hardware acceleration on these Turing GPUs.

NVIDIA Doesn't Expect To Have Linux 5.9 Driver Support For Another Month
While NVIDIA is usually quite timely in supporting new versions of the Linux kernel and aim to have out a driver by the end of the release candidates for new series, in the case of the recently minted Linux 5.9 kernel it's taking a lot longer.

Blender 2.82's NVIDIA OptiX Support Is Performing Very Well
Continuing on with our Blender 2.82 benchmarking for this open-source 3D modeling software update that debuted last month with numerous improvements, here are some fresh benchmarks of the CUDA and OptiX back-ends for NVIDIA GPU acceleration.

Some Ugly Code Can Get NVIDIA's Linux Driver Working With Accelerated XWayland
Red Hat's Adam Jackson has been working on "GLX Delay" as a means of offering accelerated GLX with OpenGL for XWayland when using the NVIDIA proprietary driver. The proposed code is going through Mesa even though it's for the proprietary NVIDIA driver benefit and also requires a change to the OpenGL Vendor Neutral Dispatch Library (libglvnd).

NVIDIA Demonstrates Porting Of DirectX Ray-Tracing To Vulkan
Big "open-source" achievements aren't too common for NVIDIA or Microsoft much less together, but thanks to their open-source work on the DXC DirectXCompiler it's possible to easily convert HLSL DXR shaders to SPIR-V for Vulkan.

Open-Source NVIDIA "Nouveau" Driver Should Trip Less Often On Some GPUs With Linux 5.7
Last week there were a bunch of new improvements and features for the open-source kernel graphics/display drivers merged for Linux 5.7. There were not any feature changes on the open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" driver front while this week at least are some fixes/workarounds so it's less buggy for some hardware.

Valve's ACO Helps The Radeon RX 5600 XT Compete With NVIDIA's RTX 2060
As shown yesterday the new video BIOS of the Radeon RX 5600 XT paired with the corrected SMC firmware on Linux yields impressive performance improvements that -- similar to Windows -- allows the card to compete better with NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 2060. For Linux users, activating the Valve-funded ACO compiler back-end for the Radeon "RADV" Vulkan driver helps turn up the competition even more.

Nouveau Display CRC Support Being Firmed Up Thanks To NVIDIA's Documentation
While waiting to see NVIDIA's new open-source play and ultimately how the re-clocking situation will get addressed for Nouveau so modern GeForce GPUs can work at their intended frequencies on this open-source Linux graphics driver stack, at least the display support has been getting into a more reliable state with CRC support on the horizon as a result of NVIDIA's already published documentation.

Nsight Graphics 2020.1 Released With Profiling For Vulkan+OpenGL Interop
NVIDIA on Thursday introduced Nsight Graphics 2020.1 that to its profiling support can now handle OpenGL + Vulkan interoperability for games/applications making use of both APIs. While not many game engines / apps are yet using the likes of OpenGL 4.6 ARB_gl_spirv, Nsight is ready.

NVIDIA 440.66.09 Vulkan Driver Beta For Linux Brings More Fixes
NVIDIA today issued new beta builds of their Vulkan drivers for Linux and Windows.

Blender 2.82 Performance With The NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 Laptop Performance
For those looking to work on Blender 3D modeling from a laptop, having a NVIDIA RTX graphics processor can do wonders with the OptiX back-end for dramatically speeding up render times. Here is a look at how the different back-ends compare when running the HP ZBook 17 G6 mobile workstation with Quadro RTX 5000 graphics.

NVIDIA 440.82 Linux Driver Brings DOOM Eternal Performance Fix, Linux 5.6 Compatibility
NVIDIA today released the 440.82 Linux binary display driver as their newest stable update in the current 440 driver series.

GNOME Shell 3.35.3 Released With NVIDIA Driver Offloading, Fixes To Shell + Mutter
GNOME Shell 3.35.3 and Mutter 3.35.3 were released today as part of the next development step on the path towards GNOME 3.36 coming out in March.
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Michael Larabel

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 20,000 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, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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