Set Your Desktop Free, With Nouveau’s 3D

The nouveau project has done it! Finally, an open source 3D driver for NVIDIA video cards has arrived and will ship with Fedora 13. Let's take a look (including a few benchmarks).

What’s the Big Deal?

As long as proprietary drivers remain the de-facto, there is no pressure on NVIDIA to help or release their code. It’s true that even if the nouveau driver ends up outperforming its proprietary counterpart, NVIDIA still may not come to the party (although at that point, we might not care). However, Linux can no-longer wait for NVIDIA to open their drivers of their own volition. We cannot keep these cards a second rate citizen on the Linux landscape and without co-operation from NVIDIA, this is the only way to go about it. Hopefully, with time and exposure, the nouveau driver can gain outstanding performance and free one of the last remaining proprietary components from the desktop. Will this put pressure on NVIDIA to release their driver open source? Not likely. NVIDIA still gains far too much advantage by keeping their driver closed. They get support for brand new models, extra performance, better power management, extra features like VDPAU, and certain technology components can remain a company secret. The proprietary driver will always remain in front if nouveau remains a community project, without input from NVIDIA. If they were to embrace it, certainly that would change dramatically. As long as NVIDIA gains these benefits, they will keep their driver closed source and continue to neither help nor hinder the nouveau project. What all this does mean however, is that Linux distributions can ship a well supported, functional 3D driver for NVIDIA based systems out…

Want to read the entire thing? Please log in to view this content.

Not Yet a Member?

Register with and get free access to the entire archive, including:

  • Hands-on Content
  • White Papers
  • Community Features
  • And more.
Already a Member?
Log in!



Remember me

Forgotten your password?
Forgotten your username?

Comments on "Set Your Desktop Free, With Nouveau’s 3D"


I just hope the project can improve the performance…


Exciting! Good job noveau! Now we need native gaming apps that use it, someone should let steam know pedora now ships with a real, 3d, open source nvidia driver. :)


Not to knock the nouveau project, but most people I know using Linux already go out of their way to purchase a system with NVIDIA or purchase a NVIDIA-based card because they know their proprietary driver works so well (warts and all).


@ddennedy, that\’s true for Desktops where you don\’t need things like suspend and resume. Laptops are a different story. There\’s no question that the NVIDIA driver for Linux is pretty good. What Nouveau enables is a well supported experience out of the box with 3D without the need to install those drivers. It\’s easier for developers and distros to support.

Users who still want high FPS gaming support will still need NVIDIA\’s driver.



Imagine if Kororaa Linux had been created with these drivers available!

OH, and BTW, \”… will still need NVIDIA\’s driver.\” is not correct, they won\’t \”need\”, just prefer, very different things.

Regards, Rob


I have to agree with golding.
My thoughts are, at least there are alternatives.
I currently only use Intel graphics because the drivers are open and work well with Linux.
If Nvidia was to open source their drivers then I would likely move in that direction due to the performance increase.
For now I will make the choice for a fully functional no crash laptop, albeit not the highest performing at least it\’s stable.



While do understand your perception of the problem, Nvidia has graciously provided drivers for the Linux, albeit as a closed binary, and miminal 3D support. I do greatly appreciate their support (after all, no drivers, no purchase of their products)

The closed source binaries from Nvidia work well for me on Ubuntu.
While I\’m not a power user, I do play 3D games and have no complaints. I prefer to purchase only Nvidia over video cards and motherboards.

I applaud Nvidia and hope they continue their support.


Definitely looking forward in Nouveau\’s direction. That is, better boot times (X starts really faster with modeset), nice 2D performance (not killer but good enough) free as in freedom.

However, I\’ll stay with Nvidia until Urban Terror becomes really playable.
I am sorry to say something like this but I\’ve become quite addicted to this game so any work break means URT… And Nouveau doesn\’t play well with URT -yet- even with a 9800M card…

If Nvidia opens the Linux driver, then I\’ll be more than glad to stay with it.
That\’s the reason behind me having an Nvidia card: Just an accident, I was looking for an ATI (as in faster + open driver) but they didn\’t had one in the laptop hardware I was targeting to…

Cheers and thank you very much Nouveau developers!!

Leave a Reply