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Novell Software Linux

Novell Makes Linux Driver Project a Reality 200

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the giving-back dept.
apokryphos writes "Novell have relaunched the Linux Driver Project by dedicating well-known kernel developer Greg KH to work on the project full-time. Greg KH writes: 'My employer, Novell, has modified my position to now allow me to work full time on this project. Namely getting more new Linux kernel drivers written, for free, for any company that so desires. And to help manage all of the developers and project managers who want to help out...They really care about helping make Linux support as many devices as possible, with fully open-source drivers.'"
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Novell Makes Linux Driver Project a Reality

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  • Cool (Score:4, Informative)

    by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:30AM (#20779377) Homepage
    I'm not sure how much just one developer can do, but props to Novell nonetheless.
    • Re:Cool (Score:5, Informative)

      by deek (22697) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:57AM (#20779487) Homepage Journal

      I'm not sure how much just one developer can do, but props to Novell nonetheless.

      Never fear, because he's not doing all the coding himself. According to the link in the article, he's had over 100 volunteers to help him out. If he's good at managing them, then 100 talented coders could certainly make a large impact!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by alphabeat (1162741)
        Here's hoping he can manage the volunteers. Can't forget the old adage about getting 300 workers to complete a 300 day job in 1 day. I think I saw this on Dilbert no less.
  • by cheros (223479) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:33AM (#20779395)
    On one side I'm happy to hear of this effort, OTOH I'm concerned that this is one of the vendors with an alliance to a multiple convictions monopolist.

    As drivers are pretty much kernel level activities I would like to see assurances that such development is clean and cannot be used to manufacture truth behind the nebulous IP infringement claims which have stopped in countries where you can't make such statements without having to prove it (which says IMHO a lot in itself).

    So, IMHO the news deserves a welcome with caution..

    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:38AM (#20779409) Homepage Journal
      I bet employees of Novell will read your post and shake their heads.. maybe mutter the word "Slashdot" with an explicative prefixed.

      But this is what your management has done to your brand. Congratulations.

      • by moranar (632206)
        Nitpick: expletive, not explicative. Now you know :)
      • I bet employees of Novell will read your post and shake their heads.. maybe mutter the word "Slashdot" with an explicative prefixed.

        And they would be right. The enormous and irrational bias on /. against anything even remotely affiliated with Microsoft is pathetic and reflects very poorly on the people of the free/open software community. Although I expect most of the complainers have never actually written a line of open source code.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by QuantumG (50515)
          It's not just here man. Microsoft is poison. Everyone knows that. You get in bed with them and you might as well kiss your business goodbye, if not your entire part of the industry.

          Novell should have known this better than most.
          • To be honest, when exactly are these promises of collateral damage going to happen? It's been quite a while now since the deal, and I'm still waiting for the earth to end. All we've had is some vocal people spreading FUD about "they're so bad, they're so bad", when every single fact about their contribution to OSS in the past and now points in the exact opposite direction.
            • > It's been quite a while now since the deal...

              IIRC Microsoft issued statements about patents on FAT FS years after its adoption for flash media. Calm waters now mean nothing. Like Novell working on drivers does not mean they are up to something. Anyway if I could have everything under GPLv3 I'd feel better.
          • by W2k (540424)
            Thank you Sir, for proving my point. Your post stands as a genuine example of irrational /. anti-Microsoft fanaticism.
        • The enormous and irrational bias on /. against anything even remotely affiliated with Microsoft is pathetic and reflects very poorly on the people of the free/open software community.
          What, pray tell, is irrational about distrusting a corporation that would like to drive Free software out of existence?
        • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday September 28, 2007 @10:18AM (#20781653) Homepage
          I agree that there is an anti-Microsoft bias, but I think it is duly appropriate with respect to Novell.

          I am 98% a Windows user. I have Microsoft certifications, own an MSDN license, and use it and develop on it. But I have an interest in other OS's: There's an aging Linux partition on my system and a Mac on my wife's desktop. I'm not Microsoft hater, nor an apologist. But the Novell-Microsoft deal outrages me. Novell signs a cross-licensing deal, then claims that they don't infringe on any of Microsoft's patents. Then they claim that they are going to make their Linux more Microsoft friendly, which implies that they will put Microsoft patents into open-source Linux. It's like each sentence that comes from the collective mouth of Novell conflicts with the previous, and the next. All appearances imply that Novell is going to try and poison Linux and try to remain the only one standing because of the patent deal. And Microsoft is using Novell to spread FUD. Even if I have the exact plan wrong, something sinister is going on here.

          There's a real reason to hate Novell these days. Maybe even a good explanation of what they are trying to accomplish would change my mind. But for now, I'm avoiding Novell.
        • by Burz (138833)

          The enormous and irrational bias on /. against anything even remotely affiliated with Microsoft
          You couldn't tell it by the moderation in this thread.
        • by pembo13 (770295)
          Experience
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by apokryphos (869208)
        > But this is what your management has done to your brand. Congratulations.

        No, it's what those few very-vocal poisonous [google.com] people in the OSS community have done. Instead of praising one of the biggest contributors to open-source-software ever (and probably the biggest company in the world contributing to the Linux desktop), they spread FUD around.

        I don't like MS more than the next guy, but if people didn't have such an incredible irrational hatred towards anything with the word "MS", and think that anyth
        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by Kjella (173770)

          it's more than possible to have a good deal with a bad company,

          Sure, everyhing is great at first. I think you missed the part of the movie where the devil comes to collect on his dues.

          Do you honestly think that Microsoft did any of this to propel Novell and Linux into market dominance? There's nothing in Novell a company with 40bn couldn't buy outright or develop on their own, so what are they really after? Whether it's to turn them to the dark side, set them up to be the fall guy or their source of FUD, bu

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by homer_s (799572)
          but if people didn't have such an incredible irrational hatred towards anything with the word "MS"

          I agree that there is a lot of hatred for MS here, but you make it sound like MS did not earn some of it.
          Calling Linux a virus, calling people who support linux communists, funding SCO, lobbying politicos in Boston - they've done their share to earn this hatred.
    • by nut (19435)
      You're right to be worried about it. I vote cheros reads the code to make sure it doesn't happen.
  • Success Stories? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lordofthechia (598872) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:34AM (#20779403)
    Just curious, but where is the list touting the manufacturers that stepped forward and provided documentation (and consequently which new hardware is supported). Be nice to see what progress this campaign has made and is continuing to make.

    Also it would be nice to get a list going of which hardware I should look forward to.
    • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:10AM (#20779535) Homepage
      Sorry, The NDA has forbidden the release of manufacturer names. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Just curious, but where is the list touting the manufacturers that stepped forward and provided documentation (and consequently which new hardware is supported). Be nice to see what progress this campaign has made and is continuing to make.

      Here's one:
      http://arstechnica.com/journals/linux.ars/2007/09/21/amdati-release-register-specifications-novell-follows-with-alpha-driver [arstechnica.com]

    • by Morgaine (4316) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:57AM (#20779983)
      > where is the list touting the manufacturers that stepped forward and provided documentation

      That's an excellent idea. A simple wiki page would suffice, providing links to each manufacturer, their open docs page, and their sources page, if any. Use a wiki so that people can add their own entries, and so that the admin can revert abuse easily.

      As the list grows, people would start looking there before buying equipment, and to not be listed on it would become a problem for manufacturers by giving their competitors a boost. Don't list manufacturers who don't offer this, as listing them in red might get their lawyers agitated. Omitting them is enough.

      Oh, and provide links below it to one or two products produced by each of these friendly manufacturers ... ie. free advertising. They rub our backs, we rub theirs.
      • by stu42j (304634)
        The do have a Project Status Page [linuxdriverproject.org]. I would hope, however, that with over 100 developers and over 10 project managers, they have more than one project in the works.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Burz (138833)
      Linux hardware support will never achieve that semblance of near-perfect support that Windows has. That, in addition to the fact that Linux driver availability is already rather good.

      I think it would be much more benefit to the community just maintaining an HCL people can use while they're shopping for hardware. That there is no such easily accessible list available tell me there is something wrong with the way Linux development relates to average PC users.
  • Here is an example of a for profit company giving something back. Novell may not be on everyone's favorite list, but there are plenty of companies that actually see the potential for profit by doing things that are helpful. I was personally annoyed at how 9/10 posts in the TomTom thread were simply "they make more money by not being good citizens" posts, and yet those posters intentionally ignored how doing good things can lead to a stronger bottom line, even if the path is not as direct, by building community interest. Anyway, I'm going to make it a point to shun penny wise and pound foolish companies here on out. Start flaming.
    • Novell may not be on everyone's favorite list

      You don't say :) (check my sig)

      Seriously though, your perception of people's perception of Novell is skewed, since you're on Slashdot. Over here Novell is related to Microsoft, and hence causes knee jerk reactions by most of the commenters.

      Novell isn't attracting so much negative feedback out of here.
    • by mce (509)

      Of course there is plenty potential for profit by doing things that are helpful. But you are comparing apples and oranges. Novell is helping Linux development for free, because Linux actually also is a Novell product that helps them sell a lot of other stuff in their "natural home market". TomTom sells to end-users, most of whom couldn't care less about Linux. Hell, TomTom developers could even he actively belping Linux kernel development, without it impacting the company's sales (I've seen this happen in

    • I was really excited about the Hula project, it looked to be a very promising email/calendar server. Then Novell jumped into bed with Microsoft and promptly abandoned it. Very disappointing. I haven't much confidence this scheme isn't going to be abandoned half way through either. The great thing about the GPL is that at least any work that IS done will be forked and continued if any good. For example with Hula becoming Bongo.

      Phillip.
  • Timing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Neuticle (255200) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:38AM (#20779411) Homepage
    What with so many people disgusted with Vista compatibility issues, there is a real opportunity here.

    Heck, even when people "downgrade" (upgrade?) to XP, I've heard there can be missing or broken driver issues with some new hardware. Companies figured they would only write Vista drivers for certain new parts.

    Linux has made many advances in "average Joe" usability. Combine that with hardware compatibility so good that Linux "works out of the box" BETTER than windows, and Windows starts to look a lot less like it's worth all that money. This could be huge for "mainstream" users.

    Here's hoping that the next computer my Grandmother gets is windows free.
    • Its just one guy.
    • throwing money at this. Get the drivers and perhaps a few more apps written, and Linux has opportunities. This would be a very good time for redhat and ubuntu to hire a few coders for this team and perhaps devote 1-2 marketing ppl to encourage companies to give them work to do. The apps is a bit tougher but doable. In particular, try to encourage TurboTax to port, or develop a new version. I would work with large home apps.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sumdumass (711423)
      You know, the time for thinking like that was back when Vista was just rolling out and all the press about it wasn't favorable. When people and companies think about having to upgrade and do all the training and all that would be necessary to switch to vista successfully, they saw that they could switch to linux with about the same cost and be free of MS's tactics. Vista coming to the market took all those "windows is cheaper" TCO studies and tossed out the parts benefiting Microsoft's OSes and put linux on
  • by jsse (254124) on Friday September 28, 2007 @03:44AM (#20779427) Homepage Journal
    Novell always hires GPL developers on part-time basis for developing small Linux projects which are eventually release with GPL licenses (because they're developed with GPL software anyway). Many freelance GPL developers here (China and Hong Kong) support their living by taking these jobs.

    So it isn't much a news at all. Anyway, gratz Greg. ^_^
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:02AM (#20779501) Journal
    ..nowadays than just 3 years ago. However, I don't have any particularly egzotic hardware, or need for top-speed from my graphic card (you can tell I am not into 3D gaming).

    However, where I do feel the pain is, when Linux doesn't recognize my soundchip. That drives me bonkers, and it's still a running concern. I guess Linux users are not into music that much. I just tried booting the newest Xubuntu live CD, and my otherwise puny soundchip wasn't detected. (worked fine on the laptop, though, so it's hit and miss) I hope Novell's efforts will bring at least a small improvement in this area.
    • That's pretty uncommon actually, as there's only like 4 major chipsets for sound. what chipset is it?
    • Look up my webpage and use the link there to mail me with the description of your chip. (you can do an "lspci" to find out).

      The only one I've found to be a bit annoying lately as far as your standard with-board fare are some of the Intel HD Audio chips (82801G or 82810G, something like that) , and I just managed to get that working tonight. While I have this nagging suspicion you might have a similar chipset (it's fairly common), I might be able to help with others as well.
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      You probably don't have a sound chip. You likely have a DSP and a piece of software that runs as a sound device on your computer. Most on board sounds chips are like this. Most of them have fixes and ways to make them work but I have found that changes in the DSP itself has caused stuff to be misidentified and end up not working because of it. I think the older AC97 devices had this issue with ALSA for some time. I wouldn't surprise me if something hasn't happened again along this pattern.

      DSP, or "digital s
      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        You probably don't have a sound chip. You likely have a DSP and a piece of software that runs as a sound device on your computer..... But the idea is that the software is basically a sound card and the chip only takes the information from a digital level and placed it in an analog output that your speakers can use. If you want a real sound chip, something like an older sound blaster, turtle beach and so on would offer real sound. I used to hate older slow computers with little memory and those types of chips (DSP). Playing sounds or music could drag that damn thing to a halt almost.

        WTF? This is how things have developed, and IMHO it's good. Old soundcards did things like FM synth in hardware, now we have enough oomph for doing it in software, which is much more flexible. I mean, imagine you used soundcard hardware for playing MP3s, you'd have to buy a new card for playing Vorbis. It's also good unix philosophy to separate the DAC/ADC from DSP and other processing. Then you can focus on building simple high-quality devices, rather than crap with bazillions of features.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sumdumass (711423)
          No, you could still do new things in software. Just because it is in hardware doesn't mean it is locked there forever. It just mean that a driver update or a software installation of some media player or something.

          And no, I see this as the same half a modem when you have to use your computer to do the functions of the modem. If you buy a device, you should at least expect it to be a complete device. Not to depend on the system processor and memory that you install on your own. IT seems like we are getting
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TeknoHog (164938)

            I agree with the basic idea in the modem analogy, but IMHO the problem with these modems is that they're tied to Windows. Openly specced softmodems do exist, I think they're fine. For one thing, they help save manufacturing resources. On the other hand, graphics cards are justified to have dedicated processors, and even with powerful CPUs there would be interconnect bottlenecks.

            Sound cards don't seem to have these problems of CPU-intensive work or transfer bottlenecks. Plus, there are so many ways of pr

    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      However, where I do feel the pain is, when Linux doesn't recognize my soundchip. That drives me bonkers, and it's still a running concern. I guess Linux users are not into music that much. I just tried booting the newest Xubuntu live CD, and my otherwise puny soundchip wasn't detected. (worked fine on the laptop, though, so it's hit and miss) I hope Novell's efforts will bring at least a small improvement in this area.

      I use Linux for making music [iki.fi]. As with any hardware/OS combination, if you intend to use Linux, you should do your homework on supported devices. That way you'll also encourage further Linux-friendly hardware development.

    • by Almahtar (991773)

      I guess Linux users are not into music that much.
      Odd. I would be pretty unhappy with an OS that didn't recognize my soundcard. I will not accept an OS I can't listen to music with. I'm used to Windows not recognizing my stuff until I've installed the right drivers, but I've never had Linux miss the mark with my sound card (and I've used it since 1999). What chipset are you using?

      And why do you hate freedom? (Ok, that was oblig, sorry)
  • by temcat (873475) on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:46AM (#20779701)
    As much as I applaud the driver initiative by GregKH, this development approach is flawed, because a handful of developers has neither the throughput nor the expertise needed to write high-quality drivers for the great many devices of vastly different kinds that are released every day. The people who made a device know its ins and outs better than a kernel developer, because that's what they specialize in; they can squeeze more performance out of it. Therefore, drivers should be developed by the manufacturer of the device in consultation with kernel developers, not vice versa.

    Still, even this kind of collaboration on the manufacturers' part is better than pretending that Linux doesn't exist at all.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JonJ (907502)
      But the people that made the hardware might suck royally at actually writing a driver. This is why this project aims to give better communication between hardware manufacturers and kernel hackers.
    • by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:09AM (#20780035) Journal
      Having worked both directly with hardware developers (as an embedded systems developer) and with kernel development, this is not quite that clear to me. In some cases, the hardware knowledge side is the most important; in others, the kernel side. Mostly, the kernel side of things is harder to learn than the hardware side, though, so the kernel development skills is the important side. Also, kernel developers often have more experience with working with different kinds of hardware, so they will know how to trick around the particular piece.

      And, importantly: For a LOT of the hardware on the market, what's important is the chipset used, not wiring around it. And the "hardware manufacturer" has often only done the wiring.

      Eivind.

    • by Kjella (173770)
      Sure, hardware manufacturers should produce drivers for developers. And developers should produce applications for users. *snaps whip* You know better how to program than me, so get to it.

      If the manufacturers want to produce their own driver, that's great. If they don't I don't see why they should "have to" any more than a developer should "have to" implement my pet feature, just because they'd be better at it.

      It would after all be rather hypocritical if the community famous for "If you want something, writ
    • by swillden (191260) *

      The people who made a device know its ins and outs better than a kernel developer, because that's what they specialize in; they can squeeze more performance out of it.

      I'll take a not-very-wild guess and say that you've never (a) written a device driver or (b) fixed a device driver written by the device manufacturer.

      I've done both (though not for Linux), and my experience is that manufacturers write lousy device drivers, and that they don't really know how their hardware works. Manufacturers know a lot about how their hardware should work, but just like with software, design is one thing and implementation is another. Devices almost always have little bugs, things t

  • How many poor laptops out there that are forced to use ndiswrapper to deal with those annoying broadcomm based chips? I know I'm one of them, and unfortunately my hardware (HP pavillion zd7000) locks me to the vendor-allowed chipsets and thus gets really pissy if I put a decent card like an Intel IPW2200 in here.
    • by JoshJ (1009085)
      I've got a zd8000. It's irritating how wireless doesn't work, but I've just decided to accept that and plug into the wall. I haven't even considered swapping out the chipset because it's not really a big deal.
  • Documentation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nikademus (631739) * <renaud AT allard DOT it> on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:02AM (#20780003) Homepage
    Also make sure they disclose documentation so that _all_ free OSes can have free drivers, not just linux.
  • I've been using one flavour of Linux or another for years now and every few months someone says "this is the year of Linux" or some such and everytime we see a decent improvement but nothing like the improvement that would be needed to really cement Linux's position.

    I'm starting to wonder, however, if we have actually finally turned the corner. Dell with Linux PCs, AMD / ATI promising open source drivers now this announcement as well as a myriad of others. This is starting to sound like the last few big com
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by slash.duncan (1103465)

      The only thing we need now is one desktop environment rather than two. Sigh. I've given up even caring which on wins anymore I just wish we had one decent one.

      Not me! The problem is that in this case a single size does NOT fit all! There's a need for at least three and likely five "environments" on the desktop. Here's how I figure.

      The first two are the "big two". Fairly heavyweight, the problem here is that the approaches differ and "never the twain shall meet." Then there's XFCE, lighter weight while

  • This is a good start, but I would prefer to see the problem tackled from the other end. That is, I would like to see it made law that manufacturers must release specifications that would enable a competent programmer to create a driver for any hardware device they manufacture, if they want to be allowed to sell it at all. They shouldn't necessarily have to include a printed copy in the box if it would adversely affect the cost, but they should be obliged to supply it gratis to anyone who can prove that th
    • by mrjb (547783)
      "If what you make can be copied so easily and cheaply, then it's not so special." You just stepped on my soul. I write software for a living. *sob*
  • amazing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by setrops (101212)
    Get over yourselves, this is a good thing at a time that may be most crucial. Vista has been widly viewed as bad. And unless Microsoft comes out with something new in the next 2 years the Linux/Mac community has all that time to show the regular Windows users why they should switch to Linux/Mac.

    Mac is winning, not because it's better but because of Linux is an incoherent mess of dozens of distribution with no clear reason why to select one over the other.

    You want mom and pop and aunt Rose to use it? Well he
  • Free? (Score:2, Troll)

    by nurb432 (527695)
    I doubt that.
  • Now that scox is as good as dead, I guess msft needs another bitch company to continue msft's FUD campaign.

    Msft has made it very clear that they intend to attack Linux from a legalities angle. Msft had alluded to that even before the scox scam. It's a good strategy for msft, after all msft can put Linux out of business. The scox-scam was a great FUD bargain for msft, but that scam is waning.

    There are a suspicious number of strongly pro-novell posts on slashdot. Essentially, the posts re-state the novell par
    • by Burz (138833)
      I agree about the MS astroturfing apparent here. Belittling the community's aversion to an abusive, all-consuming monopolist is not cool or defensible.

      I have also noticed a dearth of mod points being used in many recent (otherwise popular) threads. Relatively few messages in these other threads are getting moderated, or perhaps the modding has been gravitating to stories I haven't read... Seems rather odd to me.
  • by Vexorian (959249) on Friday September 28, 2007 @11:44AM (#20782991)

    This is a threat to open source, since Novell may just add duhbious terms to the drivers' licenses. Or purpotedly add MS code to them so they are the only ones able to legally distribute them.

    Some stuff before the Novell apologists come to bash me:

    • Thanks to Novell's deal, the only distro able to legally include moonlight is SUSE enterprise, you are right, not even OpenSUSE, and they say moonlight is open source, sure it is licensed open source but due to 'patent issues' only novell can distribute it, Don't believe me? It is something that both Miguel Icaza and a Novell guy called Bruce have publically accepted, hope a google
    • Novell is now actively being a predator spreading FUD and lies about other distros and faking numbers to show how their "superior windows integration" (which is null) is a competitive advantage.
    • Novell has accepted MS' proposal of effectively turning Linux into a windows program, so that people can easily migrate their Linux servers to MS' servers, they have accepted that only Linux is going to be virtualized, and 0 virtualization of windows on Linux, Yeah, this is the "open source supporter" Novell, turning Linux into a second class operating system.
    • Novell is actually the only company that will support OOXML, oddly enough not even MS would support it if it was approved as an standard, fun?
    Denying that Novell's deal is a threat is like denying water is composed of Hydrogen , if you prefer Novell over Linux and open source, friging accept it, but we are growing tired of people that keep their blind Novell fanboyism and pretend they do not want to destroy Linux for their own convenience, they want to make their own propietary, MS dependent OS out of open source projects.

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