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Nvidia deepens Linux Nouveau support for upcoming Tegra chips

Nvidia continued its Linux support initiative last week with a series of code contributions to the Nouveau open source video drivers that run Nvidia GPUs on Linux.

Last September, Nvidia's director of Unix software, Andy Ritger, revealed that the company would increase support for Linux. As a first step, the company released a document with detailed information about Nvidia hardware's on-chip VBIOS software.

Last week, Alexandre Courbot, an embedded software engineer at Nvidia, announced in a newsgroup that Nvidia released patches that "perform architectural changes to Nouveau that are necessary to support non-PCI GPUs and add initial support for GK20A," the new Kepler-based architecture in upcoming Tegra K1 chips.

"This work should be considered as a RFC and a proof-of-concept for driving future Tegra GPUs with Nouveau," wrote Courbot, who describes himself as a "Linux enthusiast" on his LinkedIn profile.

He went on to explain that the work was "endorsed by Nvidia."

"Hey, this time I'm raising a thumb for Nvidia. Good times."

"I guess my email address might surprise some of you, so let me anticipate some questions you might have. :P Yes, this work is endorsed by Nvidia. Several other Nvidians (CC'd), including core GPU experts, have provided significant technical guidance and will continue their involvement."

Members of the open source community previously criticized Nvidia's proprietary hardware and software, which made open source alternatives difficult. Linux creator Linus Torvalds reportedly characterized Nvidia in 2012 as "the single worst company we have ever dealt with." There's even a meme of Torvalds flipping Nvidia the bird. But in reaction to Nvidia's recent announcement, Torvalds took to Google Plus over the weekend to say, "Hey, this time I'm raising a thumb for Nvidia. Good times."

Nvidia's deepening support for Linux mirrors initiatives at other companies. Valve joined the Linux Foundation, which supports companies and individuals who use the open source operating system, last October. The month prior, Valve announced its Steam Machines hardware initiative. Steam Machines will run the Linux-based SteamOS and support AMD, Intel and Nvidia hardware.

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