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November 09, 2012

Nvidia Steps Up Its Game for Linux Drivers

Nvidia is a force to be reckoned with as far as gaming goes. Between their development of impressive new chipsets like the the Kal-El, Wayne, Stark and Logan lines, and their impressive lineup of video cards, there are plenty of gamers out there who turn to Nvidia when it comes to graphics performance. Now, things are about to get even better, especially for Linux gamers, as Nvidia announced yesterday a new set of Linux gaming drivers to improve their already powerful equipment's capabilities.

The new gaming drivers, dubbed the R310 drivers, are geared toward the GeForce line of video cards for Linux systems. They're set to not only double the performance of the current hardware, but also "dramatically" reduce game loading times, meaning gamers will get more action and a lot faster than before. The R310 drivers were in development for the better part of a year, with plenty of help from several different game developers.

Nvidia put together the new versions of the drivers as a way to show off "the enormous potential of the world's biggest open-source operating system”, and made quite sure to test it with Valve's Steam system in a process described as "thorough". But while the promise of big gains in performance and speed is likely welcome as far as the Linux community goes, there's still an element of unrest surrounding this launch. The Linux community, by some reports, isn't exactly happy with the fact that Nvidia was the one to bring out the impressive new changes.

The Linux community is, after all, shepherds of what even Nvidia described as "the world's biggest open-source operating system", so it's safe to assume there were plenty of Linux users who would have sooner seen Nvidia release more of its driver code instead of parceling out completed upgrades it did entirely in-house. This would have allowed the community to make the relevant modifications, and possibly even found a way to improve performance beyond that which Nvidia offered with R310.

While it's a safe bet that no Linux gamer is going to snub R310 for its own snub against the community, thus cutting off the nose of better performance to spite the face of recalcitrant code offerings, it's still likely to prove at least somewhat to be a bitter pill to swallow. This acrimony between Linux and Nvidia was personified by a recent Q&A session delivered by Linux developer Linus Torvalds, who described Nvidia as "one of the worst trouble spots" in terms of Linux use, before providing an obscene gesture with matching commentary in his description of same.

Still, improvements are on their way, even if the community didn't have as much to do with those improvements as it might have liked. The fact clearly remains that better gaming is to be had for Linux users, and with Christmas shopping season about to kick off in earnest, that should provide welcome boosts for all concerned.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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