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Slashback Software Linux

Free Linux Kernel Driver Development FAQ 84

Posted by kdawson
from the following-up dept.
schwaang writes "The recent announcement by Linux Kernel Developer Greg Kroah-Hartman that 'the Linux kernel community is offering all companies free Linux driver development' seems to have stirred up some interest as well as some questions — see the Slashdot discussion about the announcement. Greg K-H addresses some of the questions raised here, and raises a few more, in a new Free Linux Driver Development FAQ on his blog. An excerpt: 'Q: Are companies really going to do this? A: Yes, already we have received a number of serious queries from companies about producing Linux drivers for their devices. More information will be available later when details are firmed up."
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Free Linux Kernel Driver Development FAQ

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  • You and I both should have read the FAQ before posting. ;)

    Q: This is a lame publicity stunt, Linux development has always been done this way.
    A: Well, the NDA program that we have set up with The Linux Foundation is new. But yes, other than that, this is exactly how Linux kernel development has been done. But it is good to point out exactly how it all works for those who are not familiar with how it works. (emphasis added)
  • Sure you can (Score:5, Informative)

    by codepunk (167897) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:19AM (#17996020)
    Point your hardware vendor to the web site and ask them to participate. If you mean will someone reverse engineer your hardware, well they answer that question on the site FAQ and the answer is no.
  • by BigBuckHunter (722855) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:20AM (#17996024)
    "We'll write free drivers for your hardware if only you release the specification" - isn't this the same that was always done in Linux kernel? Or is the issue only about signing the NDA to get the specs?

    From the FAQ

    Q: This is a lame publicity stunt, Linux development has always been done this way.
    A: Well, the NDA program that we have set up with The Linux Foundation is new. But yes, other than that, this is exactly how Linux kernel development has been done. But it is good to point out exactly how it all works for those who are not familiar with how it works.

  • What we really need (Score:2, Informative)

    by gavink42 (1000674) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:46AM (#17996224)
    What we really need is for companies to provide Linux drivers on their own, and delivered with their hardware. I've wondered for years why most of them don't do that.

    It's also a "critical mass" sort of thing. Once all hardware companies provide full support for Linux, then Linux will be in a position to truly be a mainstream replacement for Windows.

    I'm sure their reasons have to do with perceived user base. But, how do we get them to support us without that "critical mass" of users? It's like the chicken and egg thing, and very frustrating!
  • by g4sy (694060) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @08:50AM (#17996256) Homepage
    Yes, this is not a lot different than the way device drivers have always been incorporated into the kernel. But having a willingness to work with NDAs of various companies MIGHT have solved the whole fiasco with Broadcom wireless chipsets (if you didn't think it was a fiasco, you didn't buy a iBook G4 the day they were released, May 2004, only to find out that you would be unable to use wireless on it for the next 2 years at least).
    I don't know but I think that maybe such a system might have made the suits and lawyers with Broadcom comfortable enough to allow co-operation on a linux device driver... *sigh* would have been nice.
  • by Intron (870560) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:01AM (#17997042)
    Nobody in a position of authority at Cirrus is likely to have written that post. It is full of spelling and grammar errors. My guess is some low-level developer figured it was job security to try to get rid of the outside developer. Also, why don't links work on that page?
  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:10AM (#17997154)
    The FA is an FAQ, FFS! Almost every question which has been brought up in the discussion is already in the FAQ because it's an FAQ, that's what it's for.
  • Re:liability? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Frequently_Asked_Ans (1063654) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:37AM (#17997542)
    11. because the program is licensed free of charge, there is no warranty for the program, to the extent permitted by applicable law. except when otherwise stated in writing the copyright holders and/or other parties provide the program "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. the entire risk as to the quality and performance of the program is with you. should the program prove defective, you assume the cost of all necessary servicing, repair or correction.

    heard of the GPL? []

  • Re:Zero (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:25AM (#17998344)

    "I'm reminded that zero is a number."

    Well yes, but arguably not a measurable one. ;-)
    Huh? Zero is no less measurable than any other number.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @02:50PM (#18001706)

    Yeah, it's a much more scalable solution for the kernel to continue to include every single driver for every single piece of hardware in existence.

    Yes, it is more scalable that way! You know why? Because a big chunk of what kernel developers do is re-organize the code to create better abstractions and reduce duplication. If every bit of hardware had it's own separate driver you'd have a huge mess (like on Windows) as opposed to the managed mess we have now.

    Besides, the only really scalable solution would be for hardware makers to design to a standard (e.g. make their hardware act like a generic device of type foo), so that all devices of the same kind can use the same driver.

  • by schwaang (667808) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @03:36PM (#18002500)
    Just like with the rest of the Open Source community, there are a mix of motives and situations. I'm not a kernel developer, but as an observer of FOSS generally:

    Some are paid to work on Linux as employees of Linux distros like Red Hat or Novel, or work for hardware or system vendors who want their products to work with Linux (HP, Intel, Dell, etc.).

    Some are in job positions in corporations where they use Linux, and need/want a particular piece of third-party hardware to work for their application (be it a financial database or what have you).

    Some are in academia and have the time to "publish" open source.

    Some are just enthusiasts or experts or learners in a particular domain, and enjoy the challenge and notoriety they get. Some leverage that unpaid notoriety in order to get paying jobs. (FOSS credentials are portable.)

    And yeah, some just get cheetos brought down to the basement by mom. ;)

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments