2 min read

Last week, Ilia Mirkin, a former software engineer of Google, shared on the nouveau mailing list that nouveau is now blacklisted in Chromium 71 and Chrome. Many users have been facing rendering issues with nouveau such as tabs and address bar getting partially or totally covered by multiple black rectangles. Users also experienced memory and CPU leak. Because of these kinds of bug reports, the Chromium team considers the driver unstable.

The team has disabled the GPU-acceleration by default, but users can still bypass the block if they want to by using these two options: installing proprietary NVidia drivers or running Chrome with –ignore-gpu-blacklist.

Why did the Chromium team decide to blacklist Nouveau?

Looking at the performance issues, the Chromium team wanted to blacklist the nouveau driver a long time ago. Also, now that Ubuntu ships with nouveau support by default they think that it’s time to blacklist it in Chrome and Chromium.

Since Ubuntu LTS supports nouveau, it was quite confusing for users to understand why it is being considered unstable for Chromium. The team commented on a bug report that they do not have enough resources to investigate and fix bugs and their main priority is keeping the browser secure and stable. One of the team members said, “We want a stable & secure browser first, a GPU-accelerated one second, only if possible. The default driver on Ubuntu LTS has severe issues, asking non-technical users to update their driver is just not acceptable as a prerequisite to using Chrome. If someone is interested in well-scoping the brokenness (version range and/or devices affected), we’re happy to take a patch to the blacklist.

In addition to rendering issues, it does not come with support for many features. Users also feel that the root cause is Nvidia, which does not provide open source drivers to the kernel, unlike Intel or AMD. Hence, nouveau (an open source device driver) does not show the same degree of stability or performance. Some felt that to avoid this confusion the Chromium team could have provided some kind of warning message and recommendation about how to update/remove the driver to one that is supported.

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