When Will Intel Fix the Poulsbo Mess?

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 04, 2010

Once upon a time, you could buy a laptop or netbook with an Intel chipset and be confident that it would work well with Linux. That changed drastically with the release of the GMA500 video chipset, named "Poulsbo." Intel let its users down by rebranding a chip made by PowerVR, which is not supported with the mainline Linux kernel and X.org. The company made it worse by passing the buck, and failing to give a clear roadmap for fixing the problem. That was in the fall of last year, but some users had hope that Intel would get it right with the release of MeeGo 1.0. Not so much.

In his post "Poulsbo still makes me sad," Matthew Garrett writes that that MeeGo 1.0 lacks "any form of support" for the GMA500 graphics chipset." Garrett's reading of the tea leaves suggests that there might be an attempt to get Poulsbo support into the mainline kernel, but says it doesn't have any chance of getting into the mainline kernel:

So it's not clear what Intel's doing here. If this is the driver that Intel are developing for upstream then there's been a pretty serious breakdown in communication over what their driver has to look like. If it's not, Intel have another and presumably better driver somewhere that they're developing entirely behind closed doors despite having shipped millions of units of hardware that people would dearly love to be able to run mainline kernels on.

This may seem like old news, but the users who have machines with Poulsbo chipsets are still waiting for Intel to make good. It's very disappointing to spend a few hundred bucks on a machine that should have Linux support and find out you're stuck with a lemon. I picked up one of the afflicted Acer machines via Woot a few months ago, and have been hoping Intel would finally do the right thing and support its Linux users. Intel is making a lot of people sad with this mess.