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Old 01-02-09, 05:31 AM   #1
rastos
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Default nVidial driver vs. kernel version

Hi.

Would it be possible that nVidia includes the information about compatible vanilla Linux kernel in the Readme or similar place?

I try to keep up my machine on recent versions of vanilla Linux kernel. Every time there is a new new nVidia driver released I wonder whether I will be able to compile linux kernel module for nVidia driver with current kernel sources. When I run the installer with -K -k options, it will refuse to compile the module because I still run the old driver. I would have to really try performing the installation - and if it does not work, then roll-back - which is PITA. Is there any other possibility to check whether driver 177.82 should work with kernel 2.6.28?

I assume that nVidia tests the driver against 'some' kernel version. Could you just publish which version was that? The readme says that at least 2.4 kernel is required. But I've run into problems because some function in kernel got renamed between 2.6.(x) and 2.6.(x+1) or something like that. I think that this will be useful also for others.
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Old 01-02-09, 08:53 AM   #2
slack---line
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

I agree, details of which kernels the current releases (both stable and beta) are supposed to work with would be very useful information to have (e.g. the currenty 96.43.** series .07 doesn't work with kernel-2.6.28, but .09 does, but I only know that from having tried it out).

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Old 01-02-09, 09:06 AM   #3
Lethe
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

I agree too - it really is a PITA when installing a driver on new kernel fails dues to build issues.

Nick
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Old 01-02-09, 12:22 PM   #4
Windseeker
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

While I agree, I think this is neither possible, nor Nvidias fault.
If I write a kernel module that compiles on a 2.6.20 kernel I should be able to assume it will compile on the next 2.6.x kernel as well.
The same way like if I write an addon for firefox 3.0.1 it will run on 3.0.2 and 3.0.3 and so on.
But the problem is, that (as far as I have been told) this is not the fact for the linux kernel. Tthe kernel APIs and binary interfaces etc.pp. are always changing for no appearant reason. While most drivers for devices are in the vanilla kernel and get updated to compile as well, any third party vendors don't have the chance for that, if they don't want to start keeping track of every git change of the linux kernel.
So Nvidia only can wait for the next kernel to be released and then try to see if it again changed APIs and make a new version, which has to pass QA cycles etc.pp.

In fact I think this has to cause so much work, that if that would be gone, we would have driver bugs fixed much faster than now.

Best,
Daniel
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Old 01-02-09, 01:11 PM   #5
rastos
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

> The kernel APIs and binary interfaces etc.pp. are always changing for no appearant reason.

I'm not asking nVidia to play catch-up with kernel API as new kernel versions come out. I understand the difficulties involved. I'm just asking nVidia to clearly state with what kernel version it compiled for them at driver release time.
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Old 01-02-09, 01:43 PM   #6
ppurka
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

Quote:
Originally Posted by rastos View Post
> The kernel APIs and binary interfaces etc.pp. are always changing for no appearant reason.

I'm not asking nVidia to play catch-up with kernel API as new kernel versions come out. I understand the difficulties involved. I'm just asking nVidia to clearly state with what kernel version it compiled for them at driver release time.
That is easy. Simply look at the release date of the nvidia driver and look at the latest stable linux kernel released before that date.
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Old 01-02-09, 01:45 PM   #7
Windseeker
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

Quote:
Originally Posted by rastos View Post
I'm not asking nVidia to play catch-up with kernel API as new kernel versions come out. I understand the difficulties involved. I'm just asking nVidia to clearly state with what kernel version it compiled for them at driver release time.
I guess I got you, but you wrote, you always update to the latest vanilla kernel.

So for you the information is always the same:
The version you have the driver running now is supported. For every newer kernel being released it's not known...

For others, especially users needing legacy kernels, this would be a valuable information indeed.

Last edited by Windseeker; 01-02-09 at 01:49 PM. Reason: edited for proper quoting
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Old 01-02-09, 01:46 PM   #8
Windseeker
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

Quote:
Originally Posted by ppurka View Post
That is easy. Simply look at the release date of the nvidia driver and look at the latest stable linux kernel released before that date.
Sadly that's not the case because the catch-up usually takes several weeks, so it may be that a released driver is not yet compatible to the latest released vanilla kernel.
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Old 01-02-09, 02:15 PM   #9
Lethe
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windseeker View Post
Sadly that's not the case because the catch-up usually takes several weeks, so it may be that a released driver is not yet compatible to the latest released vanilla kernel.
Yes, but the trouble is sometimes even a stable kernel tree breaks the nvidia build (lets take 2.6.28) - so at least nvidia could state the last known stable kernel said driver builds and works on - they must track kernel development, don't they? So it must be pretty obvious when a build breaks on a stable kernel release?

Nick
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Old 01-02-09, 06:20 PM   #10
fhj52
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Default Re: nVidial driver vs. kernel version

rastos,
This subject has been broached before, a very long time ago. The reason that nVidia does not specifically list Linux kernel versions is that they do not test all Linux kernel versions for all nVidia kernel modules. They, simply, cannot do that for "free but proprietary" software(and still keep the SW free for download). Instead they designed the driver to be generic enough that it is a "reference" driver which should work on all (2.6) kernels with appropriate gcc, etc.

I have been compiling nVidia modules since the beginning. nVidia has come a long ways since the early days and despite other issues with drivers the current method works very good. It most certainly could use an enhancement or two and some cleanup but in general I personally still think they have done a fine job. Three or four steps and just a few minutes to get a driver compiled on my system specifically for my system beats the heck out of all other methods, IMO ... for any OS.

In all those years I can count on one hand the number of times that I could not compile the nVidia kernel module and it was not my own fault. Most of those failures were the (very) early years when even nVidia was not sure of the method to get it done on all Linux 2.4.* and 2.6.* distributions. BTW, that includes mm and git versions which are as cutting edge as they come, unless one is testing for Linus et al.
...

Perhaps the(your) Linux system needs to be looked-at a little bit closer. If you are continually having compilation problems, new "vanilla" kernel or not, it could be(probably is) that there is some configuration issue.
I mean, after almost ten years, multiple system boards and (hardware) configurations, nearly uncountable distributions and kernels (from 2.4 on for nVidia) ... if I have not had lots of compilation problems something is amiss somewhere other than the Linux kernel or nVidia. While true that I have many years of software experience(programming, etc) I am certainly not an expert, especially for compiling Linux modules. IOW, if I can do it for so long w/o issues, ithink anybody should be able to do it.

...
I don't think nVidia's policy on this is going to change but it would be great to hear it from them.
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