NVIDIA Releases Linux GPU Kernel Modules as Open-Source

NVIDIA has announced the release of its Linux GPU kernel modules as open source with dual GPL/MIT license, starting with the R515 driver release.

This, and further release are expected to help in the improvement of NVIDIA GPU driver quality and security with input and reviews from the Linux end-user community. It is also a significant step towards improving the experience of using NVIDIA GPUs in Linux, opening opportunities for tighter integration with the OS, and for developers to debug, integrate, and make contributions.

For Linux distribution providers, the open-source modules increase ease of use, and as such, distributors including Canonical and SUSE can immediately package the open kernel modules with Ubuntu and SUSE Linux Enterprise Distributions.

“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,” said Cindy Goldberg, Vice President of Silicon alliances at Canonical.

“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.”

The first release of the open GPU kernel modules which is R515, comes along with the source code, fully built and packaged versions of its drivers. This release contains precompiled versions of both the closed-source driver and the open-source kernel modules, giving users the option to install any of these versions. For data center GPUs in the NVIDIA Turing and NVIDIA Ampere architecture families, this code is also production-ready.

“We at SUSE are excited that NVIDIA is releasing their GPU kernel-mode driver as open source. This is a true milestone for the open-source community and accelerated computing,” said Markus Noga, General Manager, Business Critical Linux at SUSE.

“SUSE is proud to be the first major Linux distribution to deliver this breakthrough with SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP4 in June. Together, NVIDIA and SUSE power your GPU-accelerated computing needs across cloud, data center, and edge with a secure software supply chain and excellence in support.”

The source code for the new NVIDIA open-source GPU kernel modules can be found on the NVIDIA/open-gpu-kernel-modules GitHub page.