Nvidia is — at long last — open-sourcing its GPU kernel drivers for Linux, potentially ending a major pain point for users.
Hardware support for Linux has come miles in recent years, but Nvidia drivers have continued to be a sore point for many users. Unlike AMD, Nvidia steadfastly refused to open-source its drivers. Users with Nvidia cards have had to use Nvidia’s proprietary drivers. Depending on the specific Linux distribution (distro), accessing Nvidia’s drivers could range from easy to painfully difficult.
According to Phoronix, Nvidia has finally agreed to open-source its drivers. This means that even the most free and open source (FOSS) focused distro will now be able to include the drivers in their standard repositories (repos). Canonical / Ubuntu, Red Hat, and SUSE are already preparing to include the drivers. While Ubuntu already made it easy to install non-FOSS drivers and software, Red Hat and SUSE required users to enable specific, non-official repos to access the drivers.
Nvidia’s previous stance not only drew constant criticism from the open source community, but it also drew the wrath of hackers. The Lapsus$ ransomware group stole Nvidia code, demanding the company open-source its drivers if it wanted to avoid having its source code leaked to the world. While company CEO Jensen Huang called the breach a “wake-up call,” few suspected the company would go this far.
Either way, Nvidia’s decision is a major win for Linux users and FOSS advocates alike.