Ubuntu 10.04 will ship with a new open-source Nvidia driver called Nouveau.

Whilst only providing 2D support the driver allows Nvidia users to take advantage of several new features within Ubuntu 10.04 such as the new Plymouth boot screen and ‘KMS’, a feature that: –

…shifts responsibility for selecting and setting up the graphics mode from X.org to the kernel. When X.org is started, it then detects and uses the mode without any further mode changes. This promises to make booting faster, more graphical, and less flickery. ~ https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/KernelModeSetting

Whilst the Nouveau driver to be included in Lucid cannot support desktop effects (Compiz) it can support Metacity Compositing. A version of Nouveau that does pack 3D support is currently available but remains somewhat malnourished in comparison to the binary blob available from Nvidia.

For people wanting/expecting a flawless 3D super-desktop I’d heartily recommend sticking with the closed-source Nvidia driver.

Nouveau in action

David Nielsen, who’s fast becoming a regular contributor around these parts now, has provided us with a video showing how well Nouveau works in Ubuntu 10.04 as part of his response to the Ubuntu X testing team’s call for Nouveau testing and bug hunting.

Testing Nouveau in Ubuntu 10.04

The Nouveau should be used by default in systems with Nvidia hardware.

If you have since installed the proprietary driver and would like to switch back to using Nouveau to test it then simply disable it via the Hardware Drivers menu, reboot (you may see a lovely low-graphics mode, so be warned) and then enable the Nouveau driver.


Head over to wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Testing/NouveauEvaluation to see the teams 10 steps for testing Nouveau and how to offer your feedback.

Thanks to David

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