Nouveau (French for new) is a project started in 2006 the X.Org Foundation and freedesktop.org desktop, originally built on the free "nv " driver, with the goal of free Linux driver for NVIDIA graphics cards by reverse engineering be developed by Nvidia's proprietary drivers.
For Nvidia graphics cards were under Linux so far only the choice between the proprietary drivers from Nvidia, which is rejected because of its license by many Linux users, and the "nv" driver, which in practice only a VESA driver with a few additional 2D functions.
The two major competitors to support the development of free driver by disclosing their specifications. Intel and ATI has always been since the end of 2008. Nvidia long time there was no such support. Therefore nouveau had to be developed by means of reverse engineering. The project is unique and is extremely complex, since the complete architecture of the graphics chips must be retraced. On September 24, 2013, NVIDA announced to support the nouveau developers continue with documentation on their graphics chips.
According to the developers, the driver now supports the 2D mode with EXA acceleration, and RandR X XVideo acceleration. The 3D support is, however, still in an early development phase and not productive usable.
Since the nv driver was finally abandoned by Nvidia in early 2010, is nouveau for example, in the default Ubuntu drivers for all NVIDIA graphics cards since version 10:04 LTS.