NVIDIA is moving its Linux drivers to open source
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NVIDIA is moving its Linux drivers to open source

NVIDIA has announced the release of the open source graphics driver package version 515.43.04 for Linux. It is distributed as free software under the GPLv2/MIT dual license. In other words, it can be modified and distributed.

    Image source: NVIDIA

Image source: NVIDIA

The company notes that the R515 release includes precompiled versions of both the closed-source driver and open-source kernel modules. These versions are mutually exclusive and the user can choose during installation.

The driver can work with user environment libraries: CUDA, OpenGL and Vulkan. However, they are still closed, and at the same time their version must match the version of the driver – it is not possible to use the library stack of the previous version.

An open source driver is available for Turing (GeForce GTX 16 series and GeForce RTX 20 series) and Ampere (GeForce RTX 30 series) GPUs. With professional cards designed for use in data centers, the code is already “polished” and ready for stable operation. “Sources” for workstations and the GeForce series are still in the alpha test stage. They will become more functional and stable with the next releases. All necessary software can be found in the repository NVIDIA Open GPU on GitHub.

Making drivers open source makes working with NVIDIA graphics cards easier and can improve driver security and Linux integration. In addition to simplifying work with software debugging, opening the source code leads to improved gaming performance of NVIDIA branded accelerators in Linux. As part of NVIDIA press release Developers from Canonical, Red Hat and SUSE have announced plans to distribute open module packages for their distributions.

Proprietary drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards for GNU/Linux have long been unavailable to study their content. Is this genuine altruism, or was NVIDIA’s decision influenced by the threats and blackmail of hackers from the LAPSUS$ group, who previously hacked into the company’s servers and stole around 250GB of confidential data, including the source code for the DLSS -Scaling technology? The attackers asked NVIDIA to open source its graphics drivers or otherwise threatened to reveal other GPU manufacturing secrets.

You may also recall that a few days ago, two mining software development teams, NiceHash and NBMiner, announced the development of algorithms that completely bypass the LHR protection of GeForce RTX 30-series graphics accelerators. The algorithms not only work with the Windows operating system, but also in the Linux environment. And now NVIDIA announces the release of open source drivers for Linux. At least it looks suspicious.

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Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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