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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) <> 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!
  • 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.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <> on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:22AM (#20779605) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Re:Success Stories? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 28, 2007 @04:47AM (#20779705)
    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: []

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday September 28, 2007 @05:21AM (#20779855) Journal
    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 ripped off when they are marketing half the hardware as the complete product. If you like it, fine. But that is why there are problem getting it to work. I really don't know what else to say except but the engine with your car if you expect to drive anywhere you want.
  • Re:Cool (Score:3, Informative)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:04AM (#20780019) Journal

    oops - typo - they're owed by SCO ... $25 million, plus interest ...

  • 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.


  • Re:Cool (Score:4, Informative)

    by Enderandrew (866215) < minus punct> on Friday September 28, 2007 @06:57AM (#20780235) Homepage Journal
    Stop trolling, and educate yourself. []

    "Under the patent agreement, both companies will make up-front payments in exchange for a release from any potential liability for use of each others patented intellectual property, with a net balancing payment from Microsoft to Novell reflecting the larger applicable volume of Microsoft's product shipments. Novell will also make running royalty payments based on a percentage of its revenues from open source products."

    Novell is paying for being liable for using Microsoft patents, and will also make running royalty payments. If no one violated these patents, then why pay for protection?

    It sets a legal precedent that apparently you weren't aware of. Google can help you out with that. So stop the personal attacks and shouting, and please read up on the issue.
  • not the case (Score:5, Informative)

    by free space (13714) on Friday September 28, 2007 @07:59AM (#20780481)
    If that is indeed what worries the original poster then he can res assured, from the project's FAQ:

    Q: How are you going to write a GPL driver by signing an NDA? Is it going to require a binary blob or some other way of obfuscating the code?

    A: No, not at all. I have written many drivers after signing NDAs with companies. They are usually signed either to keep information about the device private until it is announced at a specific date, or to just keep the actual specification documents from being released to the public directly. All code created by this NDA program is to be released under the GPL for inclusion in the main kernel tree, nothing will be obfuscated at all.

  • Re:not the case (Score:5, Informative)

    by mystran (545374) <> on Friday September 28, 2007 @09:23AM (#20781153) Homepage
    Having written one or two drivers for a completely irrelevant toy operating system of mine (making me just marginally less incompetent to comment on this thread), it is very helpful to have datasheets that actually describes the operation of a given device, instead of just something like a list of it's registers and their meaning. Even descriptions of sequences of commands required are not always helpful without understanding the internal workings of the device. The resulting code ofcourse has to take all relevant device details into account, but the code itself is typically not sufficient to figure out anything beyond what the original code has at least attempted to take into consideration, if even that (ofcourse any sample code is invaluable when trying to decipher datasheets but that's another issue).

    So based on what little I understand about the whole subject, I'd say letting somebody develop a driver under NDA and just releasing the driver source instead of all the documentation is likely to keep a LOT more details about the device essentially secret, even if the code itself was pretty decently commented with remarks about the particular implementation (assuming ofcourse that said internal documetation isn't duplicated in the comments).

    Ofcourse that DOES have the effect that anybody willing to improve the driver functionaly in regards to the device would need the same documents under NDA (or reverse-engineer the relevant details, which might be easier with a working driver to tweak), but at least a source driver let's the kernel developers deal with things like driver API changes internally. Say, you want to change the protocol by which drivers reserve IO resources because you've found a new, totally fair way to do that. Now, with binary drivers you can either break the drivers or implement workaround wrappers. Source drivers, you can simply change the driver code yourself without having a clue what the driver actually does. :)
  • Re:Cool (Score:4, Informative)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Friday September 28, 2007 @10:20AM (#20781677) Journal

    This was a cross-licensing deal that had NOTHING to do with any patents in linux. Read the bottom - its about Mono (which has nothing to do with linux) and virtualization technologies:

    Q. By making it easy to run Windows virtualized on Linux, isn't Novell undercutting its own Mono project, which shares a similar goal?

    Mono provides developers a way to run applications designed using Microsoft .NET technologies to run on Linux and other platforms. Its main focus is the Linux desktop, where Mono has been leveraged to build a series of new services, including search, music playback, and more. Virtualization focuses on maximizing the value of server hardware by running multiple operating systems. It is used for server consolidation, workload balancing and other corporate needs. So while both approaches are designed to give customers flexibility in their IT systems, their focuses are quite different.

    Q. What does the patent agreement cover with regard to Mono and OpenOffice?

    Under the patent agreement, customers will receive coverage for Mono, Samba, and as well as .NET and Windows Server. All of these technologies will be improved upon during the five years of the agreement and there are some limits on the coverage that would be provided for future technologies added to these offerings. The collaboration framework we have put in place allows us to work on complex subjects such as this where intellectual property and innovation are important parts of the conversation.

    Now lets see ... is MONO part of the linux kernel? Nope. Is Samba part of the linux kernel? Nope. Is OpenOffice part of the linux kernel? Nope. Is .NET part of the linux kernel? Nope. Is Windows Server part of the linux kernel? Nope. And those last two are what Microsoft is paying Novell for (which is why the net flow of money is from Microsoft to Novell, and not vice verse. Microsoft uses a LOT of Novell's IP).

    So, there is not a SINGLE part of the agreement that has anything to do with linux, and most of it is money from Microsoft for Novell IP in Windows Server and .NET.

    Not a single Microsoft patent in linux, and the agreement doesn't say otherwise. The only one saying so is Balmer, and the "useful fools" who believe what he says; show ONE Microsoft patent in linux. Microsoft has had a year to do it. They can't. Neither can you; the deal was not for "patent coverage for linux."

  • by porl (932021) on Friday September 28, 2007 @11:44AM (#20783005)
    the kernel itself is definitely not moving to gpl3 anytime soon... all internal kernel modules *must* be gpl2 to be accepted into the mainline kernel (or at least a more permissive license, which gpl3 is not). of course any part of the driver external to the kernel might be able to use gpl3 or another license i think.


"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg