Nouveau Developers Remain Frustrated By NVIDIA's Firmware Practices
Written by Michael Larabel in Nouveau on 22 September 2016 at 06:35 AM EDT. 55 Comments
NOUVEAU --
Nouveau developers Samuel Pitoiset, Karol Herbst, Pierre Moreau, and Martin Peres presented their status update on this open-source, reverse-engineered NVIDIA Linux graphics driver during the second day of the XDC2016 conference. Nouveau developers had a few words for the NVIDIA developers in the room.

Not only are Nouveau Linux desktop users unhappy with how long it's taken NVIDIA to release the signed Maxwell firmware files (just earlier this year, for hardware that's been shipping for two years) and the still non-existent firmware blobs for Pascal, but the Nouveau developers themselves are just as upset -- if not more disturbed -- by the situation. For those new to Phoronix or the Linux scene, it was just with the GeForce GTX 900 series when NVIDIA began requiring signed firmware binaries for enabling hardware acceleration on the GPUs and it always seems like an eternity in getting NVIDIA to release firmware files or any open-source code.

While the Maxwell firmware has been out there, it isn't exactly complete with the power management / fan control still being a big obstacle to tackle and is needed for being able to properly support re-clocking in order to get any decent performance out of these GPUs on the Nouveau driver. Long story short, still a big freaking mess.

It appears Nouveau developers are even at a point where they would be willing to accept Non-Disclosure Agreements from NVIDIA in order to gain earlier access to hardware/firmware, permitting their code not be tied up by these NDAs for hardware that is released. They obviously would also like to see any and all documentation that NVIDIA can publicly provide, which so far hasn't been much, in order to push the Nouveau driver along.

The Nouveau session can be seen from the XDC2016 livestream. There are several employees of NVIDIA at XDC2016, but unfortunately their pull is only so much, so we'll see if they are able to facilitate any new changes at the company for benefiting Nouveau / the open-source Linux community.

Hopefully it won't be another two years before NVIDIA releases the firmware blobs for the Pascal desktop parts...
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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 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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