Rumor: NVIDIA Working On Their Own Distribution For Linux Gamers

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 16 March 2016 at 03:38 PM EDT. 36 Comments
Making the rounds on the Internet today is a rumor that NVIDIA Corp is allegedly working on their own Linux distribution.

Generating interest on Reddit and elsewhere is that NVIDIA is supposedly developing their own Linux distribution / operating system. This Linux OS would supposedly be suited for gamers.

The premise isn't really different from Valve's OS and the only "proof" is an alleged screen capture of an installer screen for this operating system supposedly going by the "NLINUX" codename at NVIDIA.

Reddit: The alleged "proof" of NLINUX.

Aside from the lack of proof, I find this a bit hard to believe in its current form. This likely wouldn't be for console/HTPC PCs since there NVIDIA already has their SHIELD TV that's powered by Tegra hardware and offers a variety of games over their cloud/streaming "GeForce NOW" service. I doubt NVIDIA would want a full-blown Linux distribution for the SHIELD TV as the Tegra X1 would run into performance issues, Steam not being natively available for Linux ARMv7/ARMv8, and they would risk cannibalizing their monthly subscription revenue off GeForce NOW. On the desktop side, it would be a tough sell for NVIDIA to come out with yet another Linux distribution and would be hard for their engineers to justify all of the investment in coming out with a fully-supported distribution.

NVIDIA already dominates among Linux gaming systems and are currently far outperforming AMD Radeon graphics cards on Linux so they really don't need to come out with an "optimized" Linux OS to further drive sales of their graphics cards for Linux gamers. I can't really think of any competitive advantage NVIDIA could come up with for "NLINUX" over SteamOS, Ubuntu, or other distributions at this present time.

It's also not a problem of NVIDIA's proprietary Linux driver being hard to install... If anything, it would be more interesting for AMD/RTG to come out with an experimental/enthusiast distribution (or more ideally, a PPA/Copr/OBS/third-party-repository for Ubuntu/Fedora/etc) with all of their bleeding-edge driver components throughout the kernel/user-space stack plus all of their other open-source components from GPUOpen, etc. But on the NVIDIA side, with being just a bundled binary blob, it's own distribution really isn't needed.

If this is real, the most likely scenario: NVIDIA pursuing a Linux distribution for game developers to help them in porting their games/applications to Linux. If this is the case, NLINUX would probably just come down to some spin of Debian/Ubuntu and remain close to its upstream state for obvious reasons while just packaging the latest binary drivers and various NVIDIA software extras.

But hey, I would love to be surprised. What do you think of this rumor? Would you like to see NVIDIA come out with their own Linux gaming platform? I've read out to contacts at NVIDIA to see if they have any comment on this supposed NLINUX.

Update: To no surprise, it's looking like this rumor isn't panning out based upon what I've heard so far from the folks at NVIDIA, at least in any publicly-planned Linux distribution.
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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 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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