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Nvidia cripples Linux drivers because of Windows

The company have reportedly crippled their Linux drivers to ensure parity with Windows. An Ubuntu user discovered that after an update to Nvidia’s non-free drivers his system was restricted to support only three monitors. The user wanted to connect 4th monitor using two GTX 560Ti graphics cards with a SLI connector.

The use wrote on Nvidia forum:

A few days ago I tried hooking up a 4th monitor, configured the xorg.conf file, but still only 3 monitors popped up. Then I tried installing the v325 drivers after uninstalling all the ubuntu nvidia packages. This only worked for 2 monitors, because I couldn’t get BaseMosaic working anymore, even not from the NVIDIA GUI after enabling advanced options.

An Nvidia representative responded to the thread stating, “For feature parity between Windows and Linux we set BaseMosaic to 3 screens on GeForce.”

Nvidia chose to disable a feature from their Linux drivers because Windows doesn’t have that capabilities? There are many features in Windows drivers which are not available on Linux so it’s disturbing to see Nvidia chose to further cripple Linux divers to give Microsoft an edge over Linux players.

Another user posted a question to Nvidia developers:

Does “feature parity” takes places only when the features are going to be removed?

I can’t figure out why nvidia went from 4 to 3 monitors on linux instead of just raising windows to 4.

Anyway, if i’m right, optimus support under linux is not on par with windows.
Are you nvidia going to fix optimus on linux, or “for feature parity” are you going to make the optimus support worse on windows too?
Maybe the same applies to stereo3d.

This doesn’t make any sense to me, and all points to some really bad (for the users and probably for the company image) marketing/managment choice.

Oh, and there is still a question waiting for an answer:
– Will it be able in future drivers to support more then 3 monitors again using BaseMosaic?

Which, for “feature parity” means: Are you going to raise the number of monitors to 4 in windows so that “for feature parity” linux users can have it too?
Do a linux user have to post a bug report in the windows forum to have 4 monitors?

“Seriously, This Is Getting Ridiculous.”

We are looking for aspiring bloggers and journalists for The Mukt. If you are interested, apply now!

Nvidia seemingly needs another round of ‘wrath of Linus‘.

Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.


  1. Insane is the word

  2. That’s why proprietary drivers suck. We should stop supporting nVidia until they release a proper free driver or more complete specs for the Nuevau project. Until then I won’t buy anything with an nVidia card in it.

    • If you’ve spent any time trying to do any OpenGL work, you’ll know the
      answers to these questions – and it’s the same answer to all of them.
      The nvidia driver is the only one out there that actually has full
      OpenGL support. The Mesa guys will happily tell you how it supports the
      full 2.1 spec as well – and then mumble something about a software
      renderer – yes that’s right, as long as you don’t need any hardware
      acceleration, Mesa is the tool for you – or maybe we should reevaluate
      who the tool is…

      The sad truth is that none
      of the open source drivers actually offer the hooks necessary to enable
      full OpenGL support, even when the hardware itself is capable.
      Publishing documentation and having paid fulltime developers in house
      has not fixed this problem for either ATI or Intel. (Full disclosure,
      the closed-source ATI drivers have support for some of these features
      but no freetard is interested in them anymore). Why? Because there’s no
      infrastructure – the Linux DRI/DRM layer is broken and efforts to fix it
      continue at a glacial pace.

    • Little problem: Intel, NVidia, AMD/ATI. It appears to be all the choice we have. So it’s either slow cards (Intel) or crappy companies with crappy developers (NVidia/AMD/ATI).

      This is why a monopoly is a problem. As long as there’s no competition, companies can do whatever they like and don’t have to (= won’t) give a single shit about their users.

      • That’s true. And that’s also the reason I refuse to buy nVidia products. Even though they are slower than dedicated ATI or nVidia cards, I’m going to continue to use Intel integrated GPUs. I wish more people had a similar approach, that could force vendors to rethink their strategy a bit. If people refuse to use a GPU because of proprietary drivers the vendor has a choice of not selling it or making a free driver. Too bad most “average users” don’t even see this as an issue, much less try to look at the big picture.

  3. The Nvidia GEForce 670 has twice the memory bandwidth compared with the Intel HD 400 but I still bought the Intel chip because Nvidia doesn’t care about Linux and Intel does.

  4. So far for NVidia making friends with the Linux folks. Doesn’t look like Linus’ll have to apologise any time soon.

  5. fucking idiots.

  6. EDIT:
    support only ( -> 3) displays

    connect (4th->4) monitors

    to give Microsoft (and->an) edge

  7. this is exactly why my next video card will be an AMD 7950, it will have support for eyefinity on 1 card with support for up to 4 monitors even with OSS drivers. This will be my last Nvidia card, every time I used ati/amd in the past it all worked, nvidia really does suck. Sure Ati had some driver issues but there were workarounds and games always ran better. So going back after this news… Vote with your pockets people!

    • Good luck, still nVIDIA have better driver support in GNU/Linux than ATi/AMD.

  8. I had no idea we were being restricted in this way. This never used to be a problem. What an absolutely retarded decision by Nvidia. So far as I’m concerned the market needs a new player to shake things up a bit. AMD has done nothing useful with it’s purchase of ATI. Nvidia are far too comfortable. They need a scare.

  9. Here is the explanation, it is a f….. marketing reason, removing a working and useful driver feature just to sell the new graphic card :

    “In the 295 driver, we supported more than 3 basemosaic displays on GeForce cards. Marketing specifications differentiate products. NVIDIA changed the basemosaic marketing specification to differentiate GeForce and Quadro cards. The supported limit on GeForce cards is now 3 displays. Quadro cards support more than 3 displays.”

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