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Lack of Linux support is … lackingJay Lyman, April 9, 2008 @ 12:12 pm ET
Early last year, Greg Kroah-Hartman led a Linux kernel development effort to address lacking support for hardware devices and drivers in Linux. Kroah-Hartman even devoted more of his work to the driver project and then put out another call for companies to come forward with their Linux driver issues. This work is highly commendable and is the kind of thing that gives Linux staying power in a variety of uses, including server, mobile, embedded and desktop computing.
But now comes word from Kroah-Hartman that there is actually a dearth of devices that are not supported by Linux. Similar to a recent kernel development study, news on the lack of hardware support issues comes with a status report on the Linux Driver Project. It now has driver code in the kernel and the interest of more than 300 Linux developers. But the real story is that, as Kroah-Hartman says, ‘It turns out that there really isn’t much hardware that Linux doesn’t already support.’ More importantly, he adds, ‘Almost all new hardware produced is coming with a Linux driver already written by the company, or by the community with help from the company.’
This says a lot about how far Linux has come, and it also tells us that the future for Linux looks bright because the open source OS is emerging as just another checklist item for OEMs, device makers, ISVs and others. Given the overwhelming support of hundreds of Linux developers and the underwhelming vendor response, Kroah-Hartman searched for the reason(s) that the great Linux support shortage appeared to be a myth. Having already pointed out that Linux supports more different devices than any other OS in the world, Kroah-Hartman reports he found that nobody seemed to know why this was ranked as a big concern for Linux. Fast forward to today, and we see the Linux Foundation no longer has driver support among its top things to be addressed.
In response to the fact that most vendors report their hardware and devices are already supported by Linux, the Linux Driver Project is changing its main thrust into an effort of education, which has already proven critical to ‘cleaning up’ and actually moving driver code into the kernel, according to Kroah-Hartman. The idea is to educate vendors on becoming members of the Linux kernel community and getting driver support incorporated into the OS. Given Linux has managed to muster support for so many different devices already without that education, spreading the word will only increase the operating system’s advantages, yes advantages, in driver support.
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