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Nvidia Jumps on Board with the Linux Foundation

By committing to increased participation in Linux, the GPU maker joins competitors Intel and AMD on the foundation's membership list.

Hardly a week goes by these days without some fresh news that another company has joined the Linux Foundation, and it's always exciting to hear about the organization's continuing growth.

Every once in a while, however, such announcements take on particular significance when they involve companies whose new commitment to Linux is especially notable--like when Broadcom joined last year, for example.

Well, this week has brought another such announcement. Not just one but four companies have joined the Linux Foundation this week, in fact, and among them are a name that's nothing if not notable in the Linux world: Nvidia.

Proprietary Drivers

As one of the three big makers of graphics chips for PCs--the other two are Intel and AMD, both of which are longtime Linux Foundation members--Nvidia's increased participation in Linux could be big news for users of the free and open source operating system.

Nvidia has long taken a closed approach to Linux drivers for its graphics cards, offering only a proprietary one and declining to participate in the open source Nouveau driver project, which has depended instead on reverse engineering.

Nvidia's GeForce graphics chips are used in many PCs--often targeting high-end gaming--while its Tegra system-on-a-chip platform is designed for the mobile and embedded market.

'Shaping the Future of Linux'

Now, by joining the Linux Foundation, Nvidia can take a more active role in bringing new capabilities to Linux users.

"Membership in The Linux Foundation will accelerate our collaboration with the organizations and individuals instrumental in shaping the future of Linux, enabling a great experience for users and developers of Linux," said Scott Pritchett, Nvidia's vice president of Linux platform software.

Of course, whether this means Nvidia is committing to open source drivers for its chips remains to be seen--there was no mention of that in the announcement, and it can't be assumed. Both Adobe and Oracle are also members of the foundation, after all.

Fluendo, Lineo, Mocana

Still, there's an exciting potential in this news, which includes also the addition of multimedia software developer Fluendo, Japanese Lineo Solutions, and security-focused Mocana to the Linux Foundation's membership list.

The optimist in me wants to assume that Nvidia is planning to open up in the future. Either way, though, it's clearly a recognition of Linux's growing importance both on PCs and in the mobile world.

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