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Nvidia offers Linux drivers under an open source license

Nvidia has announced that it will release the Linux drivers for its graphics cards under a dual GPL/MIT license. The driver version R515, which is already available on GitHub, kicks off. That comes as a surprise: processor manufacturer Nvidia had until now – unlike Intel or AMD – shown any ambition to make parts of its drivers available as open source. Now that will change. That comes from a notification from the company, they now dare to release kernel components of the graphics driver as open source to accommodate Linux users. The release will greatly simplify the delivery of drivers for Linux.

Driver R515 is still in the beta phase

According to Nvidia, the source code for the kernel modules in the first step has the “Nvidia Open GPU Kernel Modules Repo” on GitHub made available. However, the current version R515 is still in the beta testing phase. The R515 release includes precompiled versions of both the closed source driver and the open source kernel modules. These versions are mutually exclusive, so a choice can be made during installation.

Cooperation started

Additionally, Nvidia reports that both Canonical (Ubuntu) and Suse developers can integrate the now-open kernel modules into their distributions. Nvidia has worked with the two companies and with Red Hat to improve package delivery.

Open Source Decision Good?

“Nvidia’s new open-source GPU kernel modules simplify installation and increase security for Ubuntu users, be they AI/ML developers, gamers, or cloud users,” said Canonical manager Cindy Goldberg. The new drivers are expected to make their way to Canonical’s recently released Ubuntu 22.04 LTS in the coming months. Suse is also excited about the move, making an announcement herself: “This is a real milestone for the open source community and accelerated computing.

Suse is proud to be the first major Linux distribution to achieve this breakthrough with Suse Linux Enterprise 15 SP4 in June,” said Markus Noga of Suse. Mike McGrath, vice president of Linux Engineering at Red Hat, is particularly excited about the impact the change will have on users: “Enterprise open source can drive innovation and improve the customer experience—something Red Hat has always stood for.” We welcome Nvidia’s decision to open its GPU kernel driver. Red Hat has been working with Nvidia for many years and we are delighted that they are taking this next step. We look forward to bringing these capabilities to our customers.” and improving interoperability with Nvidia hardware.”

Mark Goodman

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