NVIDIA Finally Releases Open-Source Linux GPU Kernel Modules

NVIDIA Open Source

NVIDIA today announced that they have started publishing their GPU kernel modules for Linux systems as open-source on GitHub as a first towards providing the community with an open NVIDIA graphics driver.

The open-source Linux GPU kernel modules have a dual GPL/MIT license and they will be available starting with the upcoming NVIDIA 515.x.x series of their proprietary graphics driver, which entered public beta testing today with an updated installer, updated RTD3 video memory utilization threshold, improved Vulkan support, updated NVIDIA X Server Settings, and other changes.

As you can expect, NVIDIA open-sourcing their Linux GPU kernel modules will open the door to new contributions from the Linux community to make the NVIDIA graphics driver usable on more systems and to provide users with an out-of-the-box user experience, with Canonical, Red Hat, and SUSE as the first Open Source companies to package the new open-source GPU kernel modules for their Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise distributions.

“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,” said NVIDIA.

With each new release of their graphics driver, NVIDIA will publish a snapshot of the source code on GitHub to allow those who want to make contributions to help improve the quality and security of the NVIDIA graphics driver for Linux systems.

The upcoming NVIDIA 515 graphics driver family will be the first release to also ship with the source code. However, NVIDIA noted the fact that alpha quality will be provided in this open-source release for NVIDIA GeForce and Workstation GPUs. Users will be able to use the driver on NVIDIA Turing and NVIDIA Ampere GPU architectures to run Linux desktops.

Features like support for multiple displays, G-SYNC, NVIDIA OptiX, and NVIDIA RTX ray tracing in Vulkan will be available in the open-source driver. NVIDIA also said that more features will be added in upcoming versions of the open-source driver to bring it on par with the proprietary graphics driver, which will be superseded by the open-source version in the near future.

Also, at first, during installation, users will be able to choose between the closed-source driver and the open-source kernel modules, but it’s important to note here that the open-source kernel-mode driver will work well with the same firmware and the same user-mode stacks like CUDA, OpenGL, and Vulkan.

Image credits: NVIDIA (edited by Marius Nestor)

Last updated 5 days ago