Nvidia Updates Its Linux Graphics Driver

Oct 09, 2008

After a few beta versions and months of news blackout, Nvidia has now released a robust version of its proprietary graphics card driver for Linux. Driver version 177.80 is to include 25 enhancements, among them the highly awaited support for GeForce GTX series cards.

The Nvidia enhancements to the Render X extension that, among other things, accelerates various graphic manipulations, have already been known since the last beta release of the Display Driver. The performance improvements should be especially noticeable for KDE4. The desktop environment previously suffered in connection with certain Nvidia graphics cards and the display of 2D graphics. Thanks to the new drivers the problems seem to be a thing of the past, as a few end users report in various forums. For one thing, Plasma applets can be more easily dragged to the desktop. 3D graphics effects also benefit from a reworked and more efficient memory management coordination between the X driver and OpenGL compositing manager.

Text rendering issues that affected GeForce graphics processor units (GPUs) of the 6, 7 and 8 series were resolved, along with a fix to the Auto SLI module and other recurring instabilities. A system hang from using the NV-CONTROL interface to change clock frequencies was also eliminated. The new driver supports X.Org 7.4 (a.k.a. X Server 1.5) and is compatible with recent Linux 2.6 kernels. The entire list of enhancements is on the Nvidia site.

The Nvidia drivers are available ready-made but still free in a package for Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris systems. Linux can run on 32-bit or 64-bit processors, albeit on x86 (Intel or AMD) or IA64 (Intel Itanium) chipsets. Older PowerPCs and Apple CPUs are still ignored. Due to a currently less than intuitive installation, end users are advised to wait until the new driver version distributions are offered from the update function.

The new drivers support the following GPUs and chipsets with integrated graphics:
* GeForce GTX 260
* GeForce GTX 280
* GeForce 9800 GTX+
* GeForce 9800 GT
* GeForce 9700M GTS
* GeForce 9500 GT
* GeForce 8100P
* nForce 780a SLI
* nForce 750a SLI
* Quadro FX 770M
* Quadro NVS 150M
* Quadro NVS 160M

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