Nouveau: a 2.6.33 surprise

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Linux
Software

Linus has released the 2.6.33-rc1 prepatch, closing the merge window for this development cycle. This kernel has a few features which will shake things up, with dynamic tracing being near the top as far as I am concerned. But, perhaps, the most interesting addition is one that almost nobody expected: a reverse-engineered driver for NVIDIA graphics chipsets called “Nouveau.”

Once upon a time, finding hardware which worked with Linux could be a real challenge, especially for certain classes of machines, like laptop computers. We had especially severe problems with 3D graphics as the result of two separate problems: development on the X Window System went into hibernation for many years, and graphics vendors had little interest in helping the community to develop free drivers for their products.

The good news is that those dark days are mostly behind us.