In what’s quickly becoming a big week for Linux, word comes from Ars Technica today that NVIDIA has quietly announced their intent to help with the development of open source drivers for their hardware.

NVIDIA has traditionally paid little attention to open source drivers under Linux, preferring to stick with their internally useful but kernel development unfriendly binary drivers. NVIDIA’s binary drivers have allowed the company to quickly distribute high performance drivers based on the company’s internal code – including licensed and otherwise confidential components – but the lack of a stable external driver API for Linux makes the integration with new kernels a challenge for users, while the lack transparency this offers kernel developers has earned their ire at times.

As of this week that’s changing in a small but important way. NVIDIA is now going to be releasing some basic GPU documentation on their website, with the intention of helping the Nouveau project – the de facto open source NVIDIA driver project – further improve their driver quality and feature set. Furthermore some of NVIDIA’s driver developers will be making themselves available to answer questions related to NVIDIA’s hardware, which would make NVIDIA more approachable on the matter than they have been before.

This is ultimately just a small step; it doesn’t involve NVIDIA releasing any of their existing code or having developers submit code to these open source driver projects, the two critical aspects that make NVIDIA’s own binary drivers so good. But compared to NVIDIA’s previous walled off approach, this is at least a first step in towards having better open source drivers for NVIDIA’s hardware.

Source: Ars Technica

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  • HisDivineOrder - Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - link

    Makes you wonder if nVidia's not got some kind of big hardware announcement tomorrow? Perhaps connected to the Steam countdown potentially about to release an update on the Steambox?

    It would be just like nVidia to drop this on AMD's big day to rain on their parade...
  • Ryun - Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - link

    Tom's hardware seems to think so:
  • VulgarDisplay - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    That's fake. An AT forum member made it all up and it leaked on reddit. I loled.
  • jwcalla - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

  • AustinMatherne - Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - link

    This is very welcome news. Hopefully it will eventually lead to code contributions from NVIDIA.
  • SniperWulf - Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - link

    Makes me wonder if this news is at all related to Valves announcement on yesterday
  • fteoath64 - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    Has to be related. This is their opportunity to lead in gaming on the Linux platform as it would be a great alternative to the Windows platform which is dying. Linux is holding strong and with Ubuntu Touch, it will be tabletised in no time and become a potent platform for a lot of uses besides gaming. Great gpu drivers are need for the move to the next-gen-platform that will shoot it much further. Nvidia better inject sufficient resources into this in order to demonstrate their commitment.
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    "alternative to the Windows platform which is dying"

    Ummm, really? Doesn't seem that way to me?
  • inighthawki - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    Just the usual spewing of "the era of Linux is upon us!"

    Windows is alive and well. Windows 8 may have sold poorly, but 7 is still a very real alternative that a lot of people are very happy with.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    Yeah, that's a bit extreme... It's more like, this is the first time there's a chink in the armor and it looks like hardcore gaming might not have to be synonymous with Windows in the near future...

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