As Phoronix notes, AMD promised the world over two years ago that it would open source its Vulkan driver for Linux, but few probably realized it’d actually take quite this long to see the day. We can be thankful that this driver didn’t just wind up like some Half-Life episode.
Currently, AMD is preparing the source for distribution, and it’s expected to go live over the next couple of days. The company apparently uses a customized version of the LLVM compiler to process the code, but it seems likely that either that will be provided as well, or the code will be adjusted to better complement the standard configuration.
The open sourcing of this driver is important for those who wish to have as free an OS as possible, with every bit of software used requiring sources to be made available for developer scrutiny. If you only have the base driver ‘AMDGPU’ installed, and not the proprietary AMDGPU-PRO extension, AMD’s driver is entirely open source. Shortly, that won’t change once the Vulkan component is added.
A couple of important things to note is that this open sourcing doesn’t affect non-Linux OSes. AMD deliberately stripped out code relevant to other OSes from this driver, which isn’t unexpected. And, in case it’s not obvious, this is specifically for Vulkan; other API components are still closed source. This move ultimately means that if you have a Vulkan game to play on Linux, you could play it at full performance using entirely open-source drivers. That’s pretty freaking sweet.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht