The implementation of Wayland by NVIDIA has been one of the greatest technological battles ever seen in Linux. The graphics processing giant did not give its arm to twist by maintaining its bet on EGLStreams as a buffer for Wayland, while the rest, including Intel and AMD, bet on the GBM standard.
After many years of tug of war , Intel’s future return to the dedicated graphics market, the precipitous demise of Xorg, and above all the failure of EGLStreams itself forced NVIDIA to rectify to adopt GBM , further seeing the high odds that Wayland will be set by default in the next Ubuntu LTS.
NVIDIA still has work to do to catch up with its Wayland support, which in theory should allow its official driver to work properly with existing Wayland sessions, without the need for composer modifications (or at least not as radicals such as those required by EGLStreams).
NVIDIA engineer James Jones has announced that the company’s driver now works by default on Sway using GBM . The achievement of this milestone has necessitated introducing the ‘gbm_bo_create_with_modifiers2’ and ‘gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2’ functions in the Mesa GBM backend because the ‘gbm _ * _ create_with_modifiers’ functions lacked support for flags.
Sway is an i3-inspired Wayland composer and window manager who decided at the 1.0 release to abandon EGLStreams support . Drew DeVault, creator of Sway, repeated a well-known phrase from Linus Torvalds and announced that the composer would stop supporting the official NVIDIA driver. On the other hand, the composer is one of the best exponents of Wayland, and there are those who consider him the best implementation of the protocol.
NVIDIA’s surrender to Wayland standards has necessitated introducing an alternative GBM backend to Mesa to support the company’s driver, which is currently also working on DMA-BUF support and other Wayland-related enhancements.
The 470 version of the green giant’s driver has laid the foundations to support Wayland, but there are other components that need to be patched for everything to work as expected (that is, with existing Wayland sessions).
NVIDIA, on the hunt for Radeon
NVIDIA has always had many interests around Linux, but these have always been tied to servers, supercomputing and artificial intelligence . Meanwhile, and until recently, the corporation did not see Linux as a desktop system that could be used like Windows and macOS, but it seems that that is beginning to change, since, apart from the support of Wayland, the arrival of DLSS a Proton was the response to the FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) announcement.
Support DMA-BUF is one of the most interesting aspects because this feature is essential for recording gameplays from a session Wayland . At the moment everything indicates that it will not be enabled by default in GNOME 41 for Radeon graphics, so it would be officially kept as something exclusive to Intel. NVIDIA has a front there to exploit a typical Radeon weakness that also occurs in Windows: associated or related technologies .
Radeon graphics offer comparable “raw power” to NVIDIA, even on Linux , but when it comes to technologies, NVIDIA is always at least one step ahead. NVIDIA’s hardware encoding solutions for Linux are far superior to AMD’s, with DLSS and ray tracing the green giant seems to be a generation ahead of FSR and Radeon’s ray tracing implementation, and so on.
The fact that NVIDIA is ahead in technology is a good point in its favor, so after it has conformed to the Wayland standards and after Intel joins the dedicated graphics market, it is very likely that we will see Radeon returning to third place , albeit in far better circumstances than in the days of Catalyst / FGLRX.