It's all in the wording
January 29, 2007 Leave a comment
I wonder if any hardware manufacturer will take Greg up on his offer of Free Linux Driver Development. From the post:
Yes, that's right, 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.
All that is needed is some kind of specification that describes how your device works, or the email 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 doesn't have to be done by email, but if necessary, that can be done.
In return, you will receive a complete and working Linux driver that is added to the main Linux kernel source tree. The driver will be written by some of the members of the Linux kernel developer community (over 1500 strong and growing). This driver will then be automatically included in all Linux distributions, including the “enterprise” ones. It will be automatically kept up to date and working through all Linux kernel API changes. This driver will work with all of the different CPU types supported by Linux, the largest number of CPU types supported by any operating system ever before in the history of computing.
As for support, the driver will be supported through email by the original developers, when they can help out, and by the “enterprise” Linux distributors as part of their service agreements with their customers.
When worded like that, it's hard to understand why more vendors don't want their drivers in the kernel. We really are talking about non-cost driver development here. What's more, you have people the caliber of Greg doing the work for you. He even addresses using an NDA in his post. So why the resistance from some? I'm not sure, but I'd guess it comes down to fear, perceived lack of control and misinformation. Especially in the case of commodity hardware such as NICs and on-board anything you should be begging to have Greg write your driver. Not only that, you should be paying him. But here he is, making the offer for free. Now if you make a specialized piece of $200,000 niche equipment, I can see why you would want a dedicated team of developers. Your device is likely not mainstream enough and is sufficiently complicated that you may not find someone willing or even able to maintain your driver. For the rest of you, I'm genuinely interested – what is holding you back? What would change your mind?