Ask Linux users what they find most annoying about Linux, and many will complain about device drivers. While the vast majority of PC components and peripherals work with Linux, some dont work at all, and others are marginal. A leading Linux kernel developer has come up with a solution.
In a recent blog and e-mail posting, kernel hacker Greg Kroah-Hartman wrote, “The Linux kernel community is offering all companies free Linux driver development. No longer do you have to suffer through all of the different examples in the Linux Device Driver Kit, or pick through the thousands of example drivers in the Linux kernel source tree trying to determine which one is the closest to what you need to do.”
Thats a significant point. While many hardware vendors dont want to open up their devices APIs (application programming interfaces) and ABIs (application binary interfaces) to the open-source community, its often not because they have any real secret ingredient.
No, its just that they dont want a device driver out there that they havent had a hand in making, and they also dont have the cash on hand to build it themselves.
By enabling the equipment vendor to have some say in the matter, while not costing them a thin dime, Kroah-Hartman hopes that the hardware companies will work with open-source developers.
Kroah-Hartman continued, “All that is needed is some kind of specification that describes how your device works, or the e-mail address of an engineer that is willing to answer questions every once in a while. A few sample devices might be good to have so that debugging doesnt have to be done by e-mail, but if necessary, that can be done.”