If the Internet had a pantheon of deities, Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds would surely be among them, with a big white beard and a laurel wreath. Torvalds has been a vocal detractor of corporations that don't offer support for Linux, including an especially expressive denouncement of NVIDIA back in 2012. But yesterday, Torvalds gave NVIDIA a thumbs-up - which is two whole fingers away from his previous gesture - for posting an early open-source driver for the Tegra K1.

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


The K1, if you'll recall, is NVIDIA's next-generation system-on-a-chip platform, which should start reaching consumer products later this year. The K1 is big news for Android, but it will also probably be marketed towards Windows machines, integrated electronics (especially in car entertainment and navigation systems), and more generic hardware. Alexandre Courbot, a software engineer for NVIDIA's Japanese division, posted a work-in-progress driver for the K1 to the Nouveau project on FreeDesktop.org on Friday evening. Nouveau is a series of community-created drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards - needless to say, getting an official contribution from an NVIDIA engineer is a big deal. Courbot takes particular care to highlight the fact that this is a very early release, and many advanced functions still aren't working with open source display software.

Here's Torvalds' original insult to NVIDIA from a Finnish conference in 2012. (Mildly NSFW)

It makes sense for NVIDIA to embrace Linux and other systems, especially as Windows' long-term status as king of the desktop world becomes less and less of a sure thing. With ARM-based hardware making its way into laptops and desktops, Linux is expanding in several directions at once. NVIDIA's previous dismissive waves of other operating systems could cost it customers (and not just in terms of end-users), so it's probably best that they learn to broaden their support. NVIDIA still gets a lot of grief in the desktop Linux world, but maybe this is the first sign of some lasting change. 

Source: Google+

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

    Awesome =)

  • sourabh sekhar

    Open source drivers?
    All the more perfect for expecting it in the nexus 10 2014.
    Nexus 10 2013 was the one of the first if not the first to have A15 cores while all other devices had A7(correct me if I am wrong) cores.
    Maybe the new nexus 10 will be the first 64 bit android tablet which can shoot and edit raw.
    Anyways I am very excited I see what google brings to the table in 2014.
    Lets hope Google will announce the new colors for nexus 5 and a new nexus 10 in the near future.

    • andy_o

      The Denver cores are not supposed to come out until late this year. The quad core A15 is the one coming out soon.

    • usaff22

      It's also possible that the patent deal with Samsung meant Google won't be producing another value-for-money 10 inch tablet, as it would compete with Samsung's whole Galaxy Tab / Pro range.

    • Ram Steff

      * nexus 10 (2012)
      (yes, it has been that long)

    • tocsin

      A9 not a7

  • Jason

    Let's hope that the prices will remain in the reasonable range.

    • h4rr4r

      Why would they not?
      NVIDIA already has to make drivers, handing over the source costs very little to nothing.

  • hp420

    I love that video! It's easily my favorite linus moment.

    Unfortunately, not much has changed in the desktop scene since then....sure, they are embracing android, but what about my pc that can't run linux because nvidia doesn't want to release source for their legacy desktop hardware?

    • Jon

      I think the ati people have it worse.

      • Cheeseball

        We do have it worse. The open source drivers aren't terribly broken, but are very limited on the 3D side.

        • Jon

          Really, this is a big downer for me. I'll probably buy a high end laptop soon. And it's gonna have to be nvidia, because of this.

          • Cheeseball

            Make sure you don't get one with Optimus technology. That is being a real bitch with nouveau and the official drivers.

          • Jon

            Ohh I wasn't aware of that. Actually I might consider a Lenovo with 755M SLI. The processor comes integrated GPU, but optimus cannot be enabled due to the SLI, from what I read. I was bugged about this, but maybe it's an advantage now. By official, you mean the propietary ones? I actually don't use noveau due to slower performance.

          • Cheeseball

            Yup, both the official proprietary drivers from NVIDIA and noveau open source drivers have problems with activating the discrete GPU from the Intel GPU. My suggestion is to go with the SLI laptop which has Optimus disabled. Since I'm assuming it's a desktop replacement (as most SLI/Crossfire notebooks are), battery life shouldn't be that much of a priority for you.

    • HisDivineOrder

      Kepler cores are kepler cores. I suspect the release of this information is going to lead to better Kepler support across the board.

      That said, it's coming just as nVidia prepares to move to Maxwell-based GPU's. What nVidia does with info on Maxwell-based cores will be telling.

  • Nicholas Loomans

    Am I the only one who entertains the idea that NVIDIA haven't been able to participate in open source more because of patent trolls and the like? Samsung can't be the only ones doing illegal/questionable things in code taking the calculated risk that they won't be found out. Also having deals with other companies and their lawyers telling them in no way can they let anyone see certain essential parts of code?

    I think that is why they are starting with new hardware, they are making sure from the ground up it 100% properly licensed or their own IP.

  • raindog469

    "The K1 is big news for Android, but it will also probably be marketed towards Windows machines,"

    Really? Windows RT is still a thing? Or has Microsoft already come up with a third doomed Windows-on-ARM strategy (WinCE having been the first)?

    • psuedonymous

      Doomed in the consumer world, maybe, but you have no idea just how many embedded systems run CE. Almost every untethered hand scanner is running CE, for example.

  • Dieudo

    Had premonition upon reading about that "Nouveau Project"... then I saw a French engineer was involved.

  • Surloc

    I disagree with the idea that NVIDIA didn't like linux and didn't want to support it. For over a decade NVIDIA has has a robust binary driver for Linux desktops. They were the 1st and their driver is to this day the most stable, and highest performing option for most linux users. The downside is of course that without access to the source there were always issues you couldn't fix, and platforms you could not support. (In spite of this the binary drivers generally had fewer issues than the open source ATI, and Intel drivers.)

    • bjrosen

      I agree, they've mostly done a pretty good job with their binary driver. It's updated in a timely manner and it's performance is on a par with the Windows driver. The problems of integrating it with a Linux distros were solved a long time ago. I use the akmod package on RPM Fusion with Fedora.

      The are some problems with it being a closed source driver, specifically when there is a bug there is no way to get it resolved because you can't submit a Bugzilla report on a closed source driver. For example there is an incompatibility between the Nivdia driver and the Mesa library, I ran into it when I tried to run the new Linux version of Lightworks, but in searching the web I see that it's cropped up with Steam also.

  • Iwan

    "...Torvalds gave NVIDIA a thumbs-up - which is two whole fingers away from his previous gesture... "

    "Hey, this time I'm raising a thumb for nvidia. Good times."
    So Linus has two fingers for a thumb...?
    I'm sorry, I am not a clever man.

    • alexxx

      Just to eff with your mind even more, the Title says Torvalds "applauds"....just pick the one you like !:D

  • Patacakes

    Open source more stuff.

    like especially the Star platforms Tergra 2 chip =)

    I'd like to see my Optimus 2x have working HDMI on custom roms.