“nouveau” [nuvo] is the french word for “new”.
The Nouveau community is reverse engineering the closed-source, privative nVidia driver. They claim that nothing currently works, but that’s not exactly true. For example, you can check in the status page that the 2D driver is working, but no 3D features are working yet.
Particularly, I find this proyect extremely interesting and fascinating. As a devoted fan of AIGLX and Beryl, I have been looking for fully-functional, performance-wise, open-source drivers for my nVidia graphics cards. The ATI open-source driver is an example of a nice job done good, but its performance is not as good as the closed fglrx driver yet.
I’m really looking forward to see what the Nouveau community can deliver and will help as much as I can, either by investing cash or by investing my testing efforts.