Linux Foundation Summit: HP, Dell, and Lenovo Promise Compatibility
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Linux Foundation Summit: HP, Dell, and Lenovo Promise Compatibility
by Sam Dean - Apr. 25, 2008Comments (1)
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In response to Joe Brockmeier's recent post Four Things Linux Needs, several readers weighed in saying that the dearth of drivers creates too many headaches for those who are running, or would like to run Linux. Others disagreed, pointing out that the Linux Driver Project has made good headway in providing drivers that solve many of Linux's perceived compatibility woes. Now, the top news out of the Linux Foundation's Collaboration Summit is that a much more far-reaching effort to provide needed drivers is underway. Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others made key commitments.Many people feel that either the complete lack of drivers or the absence of update to drivers is a key impediment to Linux adoption for the mass market. That perception has even ushered in flavors of Linux that aren't 100 percent open source, in an effort to reach out to the proprietary drivers that people actually use. Freespire is a shining example.At the Linux Foundation's summit, Dell, HP, Lenovo and other companies met with the Linux community and pledged to reach out to the hardware community to optimize Linux and drivers for their desktop and mobile products, for better compatibility. According to the Linux Foundation: "A key result from the meeting was that these OEM vendors reported that they will encourage chipset and other component vendors to provide open source drivers for Linux. The companies announced on stage that they will now include wording in their hardware procurement processes to 'strongly encourage' the delivery of open source drivers for transparent integration into the Linux kernel. Asustek Computer, manufacturer of the popular Linux-based Eee PC, is encouraging its hardware suppliers to provide open source drivers for Linux."Of course, the language above does have a pass-the-buck component to it. Why don't Dell, HP, and Lenovo take more of a direct role in ushering in open source drivers that work with their products? Nevertheless, many observers agree that the new pledges from the big guns in PC hardware bode well for Linux adoption.Another long-standing problem with drivers and Linux is that older versions of Linux don't get new drivers ported to them. For one thing, the sheer number of distros is very fragmented. In response, at the Linux Foundation summit, heavy hitters Canonical, Novell Red Hat formed a new workgroup to speed the process of porting new drivers to older versions of Linux. Many hardware companies use older versions of Linux that don't include the latest driver support, so this too bodes well.Recently, I was talking to a tech journalist friend who pointed out that one of the reasons Mac users are such zealots is that Apple protects a fiefdom with regard to working with the hardware community. Apple strictly disallows Mac clones, so the hardware community and the software community have only one moving target to keep track of when trying to stay compatible with the Mac platform: Apple. I have even heard that weighty term "benign monopoly" attached to this argument concenring compatibility. When Mac users plug in a new piece of hardware, they just know that the drivers are going to work--end of story.Is it possible that the much celebrated diversity of Linux distributions actually works against widespread Linux adoption? Would Linux adoption improve if the hardware community had far fewer Linux masters to serve? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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by an anonymous user on Apr. 25, 2008In reality there are only 3 fish to fry. Red Hat, Novel and Debian. I am not sure how drivers work with Linux distros but I think that there should be a standard way drivers should work on all versions of Linux using Linux Standard Base or something. This way you only have to write drivers once and they work on all versions of Linux that use the LSB.
But in reality Suse and Red Hat are the big paid dogs on the block and Debian is the big unpaid dog. If you can get the drivers to work great on Debian then that will trickle down to Xandros, Ubuntu, Linspire, Mint Linux and at the likes that are based on Debian. Same with Red Hat and Suse. (Cent OS, Oracle Enterprise, White Box, Open Suse etc)
Also if the drivers are actually open source then the other Linux companies can modify the drivers for their distros. (But if using a standard base also then there should be no issue for them ether)
Because I am not a driver developer it could all just be my wishful thinking but lets hope for the best!
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