Nvidia starts coughing up documention for Linux

After years of secrecy, the graphics giant has finally released documentation to help the nouveau open-source driver for Nvidia graphics cards.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Nvidia, the company once branded as the "the single worst company we've ever dealt with" by Linus Torvalds, has released the specifications for its VBIOS Device Control Block.

The company sees this release as a first step, and intends to provide further documentation in the future, as well as guidance to the developers of nouveau.

Using an Nvidia graphics card on a Linux system involves making a choice between a unified, proprietary kernel driver supported by Nvidia itself, or the open-source nouveau driver for users of legacy cards or those wishing to have a pure, untainted open-source operating system and kernel.

"Nvidia is releasing public documentation on certain aspects of our GPUs, with the intent to address areas that impact the out-of-the-box usability of Nvidia GPUs with Nouveau," wrote Nvidia's Andy Ritger on the nouveau mailing list.

"I suspect much of the information in that document is not news for the Nouveau community, but hopefully it will be helpful to confirm your understanding or flesh out the implementation of a few unhandled cases."

Ritger said that a few of the developers who are responsible for Nvidia's driver would be paying attention to the nouveau mailing list.

"If there are specific areas of documentation that would most help you, that feedback would help Nvidia prioritize our documentation efforts," he said.

"I can't promise we'll be able to answer everything, but we'll provide best-effort in areas where we are able."

The hype cycle behind Linux as a force on the desktop has returned in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, gaming studio Valve backed up its claims that Linux was the future of the gaming industry when it announced its own Linux distribution called SteamOS.

Although details of SteamOS are few, Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin hailed it.

"With all due respect to the others, which I love, this could be the best Linux distribution yet," he said.

At LinuxCon last week, Intel chief Linux and open-source technologist Dirk Hohndel revived the perennial prophecy of Linux and the seemingly never-arriving "Year of the Linux desktop" when he said that Intel sees Linux as the leading end-user operating system thanks to its use in Android and Chromebooks.

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