NVIDIA is releasing GPU kernel modules as open-source with a GPL/MIT license. The release is starting with the R515 driver. Source code for the kernel modules can be found in the NVIDIA Open GPU Kernel Modules repo. The release is very important for tighter integration of NVIDIA GPUs with the Linux operating system and for developers to debug, integrate, and contribute back.
Out-of-the-box user experience
NVIDIA also stated that open-source modules will make it easier for Linux distribution providers. It will also improve the out-of-the-box user experience to sign and distribute the NVIDIA GPU driver.
Open-source modules also allow developers to trace into code paths, enabling them to see the interaction between kernel event scheduling and their workload for better and faster debugging. Software developers will also be able to integrate the driver seamlessly into the customized Linux kernel configured for their project. It will improve NVIDIA GPU driver quality and security with contributions from the Linux community.
NVIDIA stated that a snapshot of the source code will be published on GitHub with each new driver release. NVIDIA will also review community-submitted patches that can be integrated into a future driver release.
The first release of the open GPU kernel modules is R515 with the source code, fully-built and packaged versions of the drivers are provided. The release includes precompiled versions of both the closed-source driver and the open-source kernel modules. Cindy Goldberg, VP of Silicon alliances at Canonical said,
« The new NVIDIA open-source GPU kernel modules will simplify installs and increase security for Ubuntu users, whether they’re AI/ML developers, gamers, or cloud users. As the makers of Ubuntu, the most popular Linux-based operating system for developers, we can now provide even better support to developers working at the cutting edge of AI and ML by enabling even closer integration with NVIDIA GPUs on Ubuntu. »