[ubuntu-x] -nouveau now set as the default driver for Nvidia hardware

Bryce Harrington bryce at canonical.com
Fri Feb 19 21:45:06 GMT 2010

After several months working on testing and integration, last night we
officially transitioned from -nv to -nouveau.  If you own nvidia
hardware and are not using the proprietary drivers, you will be affected
by this change.

The principle reason we made this move is because -nouveau is more
actively developed upstream than -nv, and is as good or better than -nv
functionally.  Based on testing feedback[1], we recognize there may be
regressions on certain hardware that used to work on -nv, but we are
confident that overall this will give the average user better results
than the status quo, and will only get better going forward.

Another key reason for making this change now, is to gain Kernel
Mode-setting (automatic screen resolution selection) support on this
hardware.  By doing mode-setting in the kernel, it promises a smoother
and more graphically attractive boot process.

To achieve this, we are using nouveau code backported from the 2.6.33
kernel via the linux-backports-modules package, as the 2.6.32 did not
have usable nouveau KMS code.  We are still evaluating and experimenting
with how best to integrate and support this code, so may make some
further adjustments in coming weeks.

Since this version of -nouveau supports only 2D, it's our expectation
that most users will use this driver during installation, and then
switch over to -nvidia.  To facilitate this, a major goal for us in
Lucid is to restructure and improve the process for smoothly
transitioning to -nvidia (and back).  To this end, we've established a
testing community to run through this process each week[2] so we have a
reliable measurement of our progress.

Looking further forward, 3D functionality is under work upstream.  We've
not tested it yet, but expect that it will take some time to be stable
enough for real world use so are not considering it for Lucid.  But we
will be providing it via our xorg-edgers PPA[3] at some point, and hope
to include it in a future Ubuntu release.


1: Results of -nouveau testing:
2: Results of -nvidia testing:
3: If you don't know what xorg-edgers is, you probably shouldn't be
   installing it!  :-)

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