Open Source vs. Proprietary NVIDIA Drivers?

System specs in my profile. 

I'm running Manjaro linux, and after installing Natural Selection 2, Trine 2, and Serious Sam 3 I have to say I am quite disappointed in the graphics performance. I am currently running the closed source 2014.01.05 drivers and I experience bad frame drops and screen tearing even with v-sync. Should I be running open source drivers instead?

Which drivers are you running, exactly? I have tried with the Nvidia 331.20 and Nouveau 1.0.10, and had issues with GLSL 1.5 support on Nouveau, and since all of my shaders are written in GLSL 1.5, for simplicity sake, as well as [email protected] support, I am running the... ugh... proprietary drivers. 

Most of your tearing is probably coming from X, not the driver(s). Wayland is much better with, well, everything - including tearing. Nvidia has already come out and said that they have no plans to support Wayland, so it may be worth it to go to Nouveau, but they are still under heavy development. Still, proprietary drivers will taint your kernel, so if you're trying to keep a FOSS system, you won't have any other option that the open source drivers.

With nVidia, in my opinion you have no choice but to use the proprietary drivers, the nouveau drivers just don't have the performance. The problem with nVidia is that they make the shitty same patched up drivers (also for Windows by the way) since 2012, and whereas AMD's Catalyst drivers are also shitty (also for Windows), at least they do development (Mantle for Windows, open source AMD drivers development by someone on their payroll who disposes of all the necessary documentation, and fast merges with the linux kernel).

With nVidia, the major problem is that with every kernel update, the nVidia proprietary drivers crash because the kernel modules won't compile on the newer kernel, and that requires patches. nVidia doesn't do anything to help with these patches, there are several third parties that provide patches, those that mostly work and are available quite rapidly are those provided by RedHat.

I'm lucky that the newer nVidia proprietary drivers work on my Fedora systems because of those patches, but I know that it's a major problem. There is nothing worse than having to run nVidia hardware on linux since the beginning of 2013. Add the open source driver boycott by nVidia, and it's just an incredibly shitty situation all around. nVidia doesn't want to support Wayland, they don't want to support OpenMP, they only want to provide HSA functionality if the Free Software Foundation agrees to provide an nVidia proprietary plug-in into the GCC compiler (OpenACC), etc... and in the end, when HSA comes and even Debian will have to move to a newer kernel, nVidia crap won't even be usable with something ancient like Debian anymore, and it's even going to be impossible to play games normally on SteamOS with nVidia hardware.

I think that it's really sad that Steam in linux runs better on Intel HD3000 iGPU graphics than on 700 USD nVidia cards. It's just a crazy situation altogether.

To be quite honest I'm not even quite sure how to check. I just ran mhwd in terminal. I'm a Linux noob.

Well shit.

AMD is in the same situation atm, Catalyst will not install on RPM distros, Unsure of Arch, because the dev left the project, So RPM distros are stuck with no GPU drivers, You can install beta drivers but the opengl is not up to date then.

Its a shame when people we need cannot be relied on to give us the software to make our hardware work correctly.

OSS is always there, Although on Nvidia its crap, AMD is better, but only really 7k+ series GPUs, 6k or below is not that great for games.

AMD is in the same situation atm, Catalyst will not install on RPM distros, Unsure of Arch, because the dev left the project, So RPM distros are stuck with no GPU drivers, You can install beta drivers but the opengl is not up to date then.

This is manifestly not true! The AMD Catalyst kernel modules are being kept up to date for all RPM (and other) distros by the SuSE build service. AMD is a main sponsor of SuSE, and there is no way in hell SuSE is not going to support AMD drivers, and they happen to provide a build service for all distros.

What did happen, is that nVidia has been working behind the scenes to sabotage the AMD development for linux, they have given a commission to RedHat for developing an awesome high performance system that nVidia however is never going to use, but they have convinced RedHat that way to make the maintainer for the non-free repos (the free repos would be against the commuinity charter) orphan the AMD Catalyst drivers and spew some lies about them not compiling against the newest kernels. Everybody knows that that is not true however, there has not been any need of patches for a long time for AMD drivers, because half of the fucking merges for new kernel versions are AMD merges, because they've been developing open source kernel lines like nuts. Same shady circumstances for Arch.

I've said it before. They best you can do right now is to use Sabayon with Steam. Sabayon is the nicest Steam implementation, it has all the drivers, all the latest and greatest, and all the performance for the Steam beta streaming functionality, plus it has big picture mode integrated in XBMC, which gives it a lot more flexibility.

Just don't believe the crap talking by open source saboteurs. Believe your own mind and your own eyes. The relentless spreading of misinformation about open source really works, because people think "what a mess" and they stay away from it, but you have the power to find out for yourself without any risk of damage, and everyone that does that, will see that it's all nothing but a shitstorm in a teacup.

If you want to use Catalyst, use either the SuSE build service (preferably on RPM distros of course, but others are also available, the OpenSuSE repo that has the closed source shitware is the "packman" repo), or use the AMD installer from the BETA linux Catalyst executable downloaded from That will work fast, will initiate automatically, and will work perfectly fine for a closed source Windows driver working in linux through a translation layer.

If you want to use OSS drivers - and I vote for calling them KMS drivers, because that's what they really are as opposed to the proprietary drivers which are userspace windows compatibility layer drivers that have nothing to do with linux or any other advanced computer software system or operating system - you're better off with AMD, but for the moment, you still get the most performance out of the pre-RHD7k-drivers, the so-called R600 driver. The RadeonSI driver still lacks a couple of functions that only come with kernels 3.13 and 3.14, and most people don't use those yet. The R600 driver is at over 80% of the performance of the Catalyst driver, so is a good substitute. Of course, once HSA comes out, that will only be available for RadeonSI driven cards.

The only way to do something against the linux sabotage, is to vote with your wallet. Just don't buy Windows games anymore, buy only linux games. The message will come across loud and clear, and things will change rapidly (well, not with nVidia, they just don't have the talent to do something good with advanced computing technology obviously, they're even talking about bringing out a two-GK110 card now, whereas they still haven't shown a working engineering sample of a GK118 card, so that's more than clear enough lol, nobody should buy nVidia cards, because they've obviously stopped developing them about a good year ago and are enjoying the profits for as long as they still can).

I did not know this, I apologize.

So the reason there is no actual driver like 13.11 beta is due to nVidia? bit stupid that they will single one out.

And I don't Sabayon as much as Fedora, I love Yum and RPM, openSUSE is okay, but still nothing on Fedora imo.

And how do I get the R600 KVM driver? I cant find the line, I hear its enabled by default but it does not seem to be as I cant launch games via steam (3D games), Or how do I upgrade opengl on the beta driver so the games will work? I would prefer the OSS driver if it works better.


No need to apologize, it's a seriously fucked up situation out there.

What basically happened is that several instances are invading open source and blocking technology. AMD drivers on fedora work without problems, but the AMD drivers are nonetheless orphaned in the repos. Valve demanded an updated Catalyst driver from AMD that would be optimized for the latest games, but they demanded a driver that would break compatibility with the latest kernel, and AMD provided that. Why? Where's the use? Well, the use is not so honorable... So fedora, arch and gentoo all have the 3.12.8 in their stable branch right now as default, yet the very latest AMD drivers only work out of the box in fedora... strange isn't it. The BETA driver however, is a lower version than the latest driver, and will also work in other bleeding edge distros, but it's seriously demented that the latest drivers would only work in distros that use a two year old kernel and mesa as default.

In order to see what the driver can do, you have to run glxinfo. There you'll see the driver, but you'll also see that opencl and opengl are not bound to the driver. You can however do that with eselect.