Ubuntu's NVIDIA "Enterprise Ready" Driver Package Now Enables Open GPU Kernel Driver

Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 7 July 2023 at 08:06 AM EDT. 9 Comments
Ubuntu's NVIDIA Unified Device Architecture (UDA) driver package intended for GPU compute acceleration has enabled the NVIDIA Open GPU Kernel driver support in their packages since the end of last year. Now with the new NVIDIA Enterprise Ready Driver "ERD" Ubuntu package hitting Ubuntu LTS users, they are also supporting the NVIDIA open GPU kernel driver option there.

Not to be confused with the Nouveau driver stack, this Ubuntu packaging effort is around supporting NVIDIA's official, out-of-tree open-source kernel driver modules. Initially the Ubuntu packages providing the proprietary NVIDIA driver support only used the open kernel driver option for their compute-focused "UDA" packages while with the new NVIDIA 535 "ERD" driver packages available they also are enabling the Open GPU Kernel Driver support.

Canonical engineers have been working on the NVIDIA 535 ERD driver series for Ubuntu 20.04, 22.04, and 23.04 users that besides moving to this latest release series also enables the "-open" kernel module.

Over on the Ubuntu Discourse is additional confirmation of the open GPU kernel module focus with these new Ubuntu 535-series NVIDIA driver packages.

When NVIDIA originally announced their open GPU kernel driver code in May of last year, it was initially focused on enterprise / data center use and experimental for the GeForce RTX 20 and newer consumer hardware. The closed-source kernel driver remains the default for consumer cards but in driver revisions over the past year has continued improving upon the open-source kernel driver code and nearing parity to the closed kernel driver across their hardware spectrum.

There's still nothing new on the prospects of getting this open GPU kernel driver from NVIDIA upstream into the Linux kernel due to a variety of problems. But Red Hat and others have been working on adapting the Nouveau kernel driver at least to support making use of the NVIDIA GPU System Processor (GSP) with RTX 20 and newer in order to workaround longstanding power management / re-clocking issues. That Nouveau GSP support in a future Linux kernel will be good news for the fully open-source NVIDIA driver world along with ongoing kernel enhancements to better support the NVK Vulkan driver and other improvements.
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