In a recent interview the Director of Unix Software at NVIDIA, Andy Ritger, answered questions about the Linux drivers development at NVIDIA. In this regard he mentioned that there will be RandR 1.2 support in the future NVIDIA drivers.
RandR 1.2 is one of the main improvements of current X.Org devices which is already supported by the Intel driver and will soon be supported by the free ATI cards driver. Support in the free NVIDIA cards driver Nouveau can also be expected once it is more stable.
On the user side there is already work going on to include the new features in the standard GUIs. KDE 4.0 for example will ship with a RandR 1.2 enabled configuration tool and also with a tray applet.
However, the question was always what the proprietary drivers will do. Both drivers already have their own implementations to handle displays – the proprietary ATI drivers ship with a dynamic solution already for over a year, for example. And both NVIDIA and ATI/AMD have problems accepting AIGLX – ATI/AMD didn’t support it at all, and NVIDIA implemented its own version of GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap instead of supporting AIGLX (I wonder why, btw.).
But now Andy Ritger made sure that they will support RandR 1.2:
RandR 1.2 support; this will layer on top of the NVIDIA X driver’s current dynamic display configuration support.
This means that in future Linux versions you can natively configure your entire screen setup and everything else no matter which kind of driver you use for your NVIDIA card. You don’t have to use closed third party tools to manage the configuration, but you can even develop your own if you want.
It would be a huge advantage to see something similar in the ATI/AMD drivers, but there is nothing known about that yet.
Anyway, besides this good news there was one other thing which struck my attention in the interview: the interviewer asked if it might be possible to see a repetition of the forcedeth story in regard to Nouveau. The answer was this:
NVIDIA’s stance is to neither help nor hinder Nouveau. We are committed to supporting Linux through a) an open source 2d “nv” X driver which NVIDIA engineers actively maintain and improve, and b) our fully featured proprietary Linux driver which leverages common code with the other platforms that NVIDIA supports.
That’s interesting, because it is not a clear no. In fact, it is nothing clear at all besides that they don’t care at the moment. I would have expected a more clear no, no matter what they really think. Maybe there is hope in the long distance…