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Free Linux Kernel Driver Development FAQ 84

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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  • by ClaesMogren ( 894070 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:09AM (#17996406) Homepage
    Unfortunately a lot of companies seem totally unable to see the benefits of external contributors. They don't even see the point in getting drivers into the mainline kernel. Just take a look at this response from Cirrus Logic regarding their ep93xx boards:

    http://www.freelists.org/archives/linux-cirrus/02- 2007/msg00026.html/ [freelists.org]

    Looks like the in house coding team was bummed that Lennert Buytenhek did a better job on the port then their whole team. Ridiculous response! /C.M
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:27AM (#17996582) Journal
    Many of them are paid by distributions. Novell and RedHat, for example, make money buy selling support for Linux. The more hardware their distribution supports, the easier it is to sell. Getting good drivers in the upstream tree is the easiest way of doing this, so they pay kernel developers. If you are able to write kernel code and interested in doing it for a living, I would suggest you send your CV off to the big distros (and possibly IBM) and ask if they have any openings.

    You may also be able to get some short-term work from companies wanting to switch existing infrastructure to Linux and needing drivers for existing hardware, although this is likely to be contingent on your acquiring the device specs first.

  • liability? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by popeyethesailor ( 325796 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @10:48AM (#17996852)
    How does the foundation handle liability issues? If a driver doesnt work as advertised, who gets the blame? What happens if a buggy driver fries the device in question?

  • Re:Sweet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:05AM (#17997098)
    if you can call us basement-bound linuxers consumers

    I know for sure I'd be much more likely to buy good new brand hardware if I knew it would Just Work with Linux.

    Right now I only grab the older stuff I need from ebay (used) or other stores.
  • Re:How is this news? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cortana ( 588495 ) <sam@robotOOOs.org.uk minus threevowels> on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @11:48AM (#17997728) Homepage

    The main idea is to let companies know that it is possible to release hardware specifications in an NDA-esque way to kernel developers *without* having to publish their /precious/ secrets. Chances are that, the secrets are not *within the code* but developers need to know about them to implement the drivers.
    The NDAs that Grek K-H talked about were of the kind that would keep details about the release of products secret until a specific date (e.g., product launch). I don't think he was talking about the kind of NDAs that maintain secrecy about hardware implementation details, etc. Such NDAs are harmful because they prevent the driver from being modified once the original maintainer dies, loses interest, etc. They should be rejected with prejudice.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @01:02PM (#17998914) Journal
    hmmm. Perhaps it is time to have the distros send out info about the systems that are configured. i.e. during the install, ask the admin if the object to certain info going out about the system (ala Windows). This could be done in the open and could use a number of serial numbers from the system so that unique systems can be determined. And privacy can be handled by not using macs or ip addresses.
  • by juhaz ( 110830 ) on Wednesday February 14, 2007 @08:58AM (#18010316) Homepage
    That's absolutely the worst thing that can possibly happen.

    Windows is pretty stable in theory and on it's own. It's not stable in practice. Why?
    Because companies provide drivers on their own and delivered with their hardware. Drivers that suck. Drivers that are unstable pieces of crap. Drivers that take the OS down with them.

    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.

    Once all hardware companies provide the same kind of "support" for Linux, Linux won't have to replace windows, Linux will BE Windows.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis