In a nice big win for open source, NVIDIA has today officially revealed that they've released open source Linux GPU kernel modules. Additionally, driver version 515.43.04 is out. This is a huge step and hopefully the sign of more to come from NVIDIA.
This release is a significant step toward improving the experience of using NVIDIA GPUs in Linux, for tighter integration with the OS and for developers to debug, integrate, and contribute back. For Linux distribution providers, the open-source modules increase ease of use. They also improve the out-of-the-box user experience to sign and distribute the NVIDIA GPU driver. Canonical and SUSE are able to immediately package the open kernel modules with Ubuntu and SUSE Linux Enterprise Distributions.NVIDIA
NVIDIA say that with each new driver release, they will be publishing the sources mentioned on GitHub, and they will be accepting contributions from the community and other developers.
For now, data center GPUs are "production ready" but normal GeForce and Workstation GPUs (what we all use) are at an "alpha quality" for Turing and Ampere but NVIDIA plans to continue improving on it and "fully featured GeForce and Workstation support will follow in subsequent releases and the NVIDIA Open Kernel Modules will eventually supplant the closed-source driver". NVIDIA has also been working with the likes of Canonical, Red Hat, and SUSE for better packaging and deployment of it all.
There's still quite a long road ahead, as NVIDIA say it currently doesn't conform to the upstream Linux kernel design and so can't go upstream yet but they have plans to work on "an upstream approach" with help again from Canonical, Red Hat, and SUSE. For now, NVIDIA say it can serve as a way to also "help improve the Nouveau driver" since it will be able to use the same firmware as the main proprietary NVIDIA driver.
As for the driver release version 515.43.04, here's the main changes:
- Added support for the VK_EXT_external_memory_dma_buf and VK_EXT_image_drm_format_modifier Vulkan extensions. To use this functionality, the nvidia-drm kernel module must be loaded with DRM KMS mode setting enabled. See the DRM KMS section of the README for guidance on enabling mode setting.
- Changed nvidia-suspend.service, nvidia-resume.service, and nvidia-hibernate.service to use WantedBy= rather than RequiredBy=dependencies for systemd-suspend.service and systemd-hibernate.service.This avoids a problem where suspend or hibernate fails if the NVIDIA driver is uninstalled without disabling these services first.
If these services were manually enabled, it may be necessary to update their dependencies by running sudo systemctl reenable nvidia-suspend.service nvidia-resume.service nvidia-hibernate.service
- Interlaced modes are now disabled when active stereo is enabled.
- NVIDIA X Server Settings will now display the quit confirmation dialog automatically if only there are pending changes that need to be manually saved. The corresponding configuration option to control the appearance of the quit dialog was thus also removed.
- Removed the warning message about mismatches between the compiler used to build the Linux kernel and the compiler used to build the NVIDIA kernel modules from nvidia-installer. Modern compilers are less likely to cause problems when this type of mismatch occurs, and it has become common in many distributions to build the Linux kernel with a different compiler than the default system compiler.
- Updated nvidia-installer to skip test-loading the kernel modules on systems where no supported NVIDIA GPUs are detected.
- Updated nvidia-installer to avoid a race condition which could cause the kernel module test load to fail due to udev automatically loading kernel modules left over from an existing NVIDIA driver installation. This failure resulted in an installation error message "Kernel module load error: File exists".
- Updated the RTD3 Video Memory Utilization Threshold (NVreg_DynamicPowerManagementVideoMemoryThreshold) maximum value from 200 MB to 1024 MB.
With those changes, it means the start of support for Gamescope on NVIDIA drivers too!
Also, you can read the take from Red Hat's Christian F.K. Schaller on it here.
Update: oh, and remember how NVIDIA wanted to get NVIDIA Image Scaling into Proton? Well, a Pull Request is now up for Gamescope support, where it might be more likely to be accepted since it makes a bit more sense there perhaps.