Linux nvidia open source drivers vs proprietary


There are three sources for NVIDIA graphics card drivers.
As sideburns communicated, drivers are available from NVIDIA corporation. Closed source drivers from “rpmfusion” repository are linked to fedora’s software repository and automatically update with fedora software update procedures. “Closed” or “non-free” means if NVIDIA has protected the intellectual property used to create the driver software, the copy you have is restricted by license terms you must legally comply with.

A third team has been writing “free” Open versions of drivers, this is nouvoeau group also available through package management. (I may have used creativity in spelling nouvaeu :()

If you only install one driver, you will not be confused which one is actually being used.

Most of the open source drivers you’ll find may produce better graphical output than the proprietary do. Sometimes you won’t even notice a difference. And sometimes an open source driver works much worse than the proprietary one. I will not make a general recommendation on which to use, but here are some cases, in which certain drivers are better than others:

  • If you have a nVidia card with Optimus, you should install the open source driver from the Bumblebee Project. This is the only driver supporting Optimus on Linux. you should either install the open source driver from the Bumblebee Project, or any nVidia proprietary driver, but not the Xorg driver, as it currently doesn’t support discrete graphics.
  • If you want to use CUDA (nVidia’s stuff for executing functions on the GPU), you should use the proprietary driver.
  • If you want to use OpenCL (something like CUDA, developed by Khronos), you have to use the proprietary driver.

If none of these applies to you, it’s up to you which driver you use. If you don’t have any problems with the current driver, I wouldn’t change it. You never know whether another one will even work at all. However, if you want to take the risk, try the drivers suggested in Software & Updates → Additional Drivers and find out which one works best.


first I know that there are some discussions on the internet that proprietary drivers has better performance, but they are quite old (several years), so I would like to ask you about current situation, what is performance difference between Nvidia proprietary drivers and open source drivers?

I would like to use Nvidia PRIME for GPU offloading (I have GTX 1060).

And another question what is performance difference between Nvidia proprietary drivers on Linux and on Windows? Is there some quite new benchmark? I wonder how much there is performance drop on Linux vs on Windows with same proprietary drivers.

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The community will receive an open source driver from Nvidia for the first time with the release of the R515 driver, which should make it easier for Linux users to use Nvidia graphics cards in their computers. It is advantageous for Nvidia to support more open source technological standards. Unfortunately, Nvidia has not consistently embraced open sourcing software, which has led to some controversy in their user group. However, this might be improving with the new R515 driver.

People have been pleading for Nvidia to make their driver software more accessible, like firms like Intel and AMD that offer open source drivers for their goods. But up until now, Nvidia’s drivers have been closed-source, which doesn’t present too many problems for Windows users but makes utilising Nvidia GPUs more difficult to optimise for the Linux community. Unlike AMD drivers, which are open source and enable developers to fully see how the drivers were coded, Nvidia drivers are closed-source, making it impossible for developers to examine the source code of a driver and create their software with a complete understanding of how the drivers were created.

So how will Linux gaming be impacted by Nvidia’s new R515 drive? Most likely, it won’t have a significant impact right away. Nvidia GPUs can be used for gaming on Linux because the company offers Linux drivers, despite the fact that they are proprietary. Numerous Linux distributions, including PopOS, will automatically install Nvidia drivers for the user. However, if Nvidia keeps releasing its drivers as open source software over time, Linux developers will be able to benefit from the advantages that open sourcing drivers has provided for AMD, such as increased compatibility and a variety of driver options, either proprietary or open source, depending on what the user requires. In the same way that AMD and Intel are the most dependable choices on Linux in comparison to Nvidia, being open source can also aid in the development of drivers and boost dependability for Linux.

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Because of how amazing Nvidia’s proprietary drivers have always been on Windows and how great they are generally on Linux, many gamers and Linux users continue to utilise Nvidia GPUs rather than exclusively AMD. Before the R515 driver, there was also a free and open-source Nvidia driver named Nouveau. The official Nvidia proprietary drivers were generally faster and more dependable than this driver. This is most likely caused by Nouveau not being the official open source driver from Nvidia and instead being a product of Nvidia driver reverse engineering. Another drawback of Nouveau is that it does not enable GPU reclocking, which is a major obstacle for customers who want to overclock their Nvidia GPU.

Overall, the news that Nvidia will now officially offer open source drivers is a significant plus. Since the drivers are now open source, the community will be able to assist in the development of new drivers, giving developers far more information about the drivers they are creating applications and games for. Over time, Linux will also gain since it has a high chance of being just as dependable and compatible with Nvidia GPUs as it is with AMD and Intel, which will improve gaming performance and efficiency. Nvidia’s decision to make its software open source may continue to increase pressure on other tech companies to disclose more information about their products, which will support a more liberal and open future for technology.

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Written by Jane