Open-Source VIA Graphics Driver Hopes To Be Mainlined For Linux 5.20

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 25 June 2022 at 06:09 AM EDT. 24 Comments
LINUX KERNEL --
2022 is certainly looking to be interesting on the open-source graphics driver front... You probably didn't have Imagination publishing an open-source PowerVR Vulkan driver on your 2022 bingo card nor NVIDIA working on an open-source GPU kernel driver. The latest 2022 surprise is the OpenChrome driver project is hoping to finally be mainlined in Linux 5.20 for open-source VIA graphics for those still running vintage VIA x86 hardware.

The OpenChrome driver effort is still around after more than one decade with trying to provide open-source graphics support for aging VIA hardware. In recent years, the OpenChrome project has just amounted to the work of one community developer, Kevin Brace, that started off learning the code and has continued porting it to newer kernel versions while also making incremental improvements to the code-base.

Kevin Brace is hoping to see this kernel mode-setting driver merged for Linux 5.20 later this summer. He acknowledges the code is "not quite perfect" but hopes its good enough to finally be upstreamed. Prior merge attempts failed due to the driver's prior state of not supporting atomic mode-setting and other missing elements. This KMS driver should be at least as good as the long-standing x86-video-openchrome user-space mode-setting driver.

The OpenChrome driver also doesn't support 2D/3D acceleration yet. The plan is for OpenChrome to be marked as experimental at least until 2D acceleration is implemented for all supported hardware. Currently the driver will only be in use if the via.modeset=1 kernel parameter is passed when booting the kernel. Brace is hoping though to get this driver merged into the proper Direct Rendering Manager area of the kernel and not having to first go through the kernel's staging area.


VIA back in 2008 when they announced open-source Linux driver intentions. VIA hasn't made x86 chipsets in many years now and their open-source driver efforts themselves never panned out, but thanks to Kevin Brace and former OpenChrome community developers there might finally be a mainline kernel display driver in 2022.


The OpenChrome DRM driver supports driving the displays for VIA CLE266 / KM400 / K8M800 / P4M800 Pro / PM800 / P4M890 / K8M890 / P4M900 / CX700 / VX800 / VX855 / VX900 chipsets.

Atomic mode-setting is now in place, GEM/TTM is used for memory management, dual head support is working, standby/resume is working, and other basic operation. See this mailing list post while waiting to see if OpenChrome will finally be mainlined to the kernel in 2022.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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