Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Driving Linux

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Among the issues that Linux users, hardware and peripheral vendors may run into when trying to get into Linux is the issue of driver availability.

Enter the Linux Driver Project. Led by Novell staffer Greg Kroah-Hartman, the group is aiming to get drivers and Linux users aligned.

“This driver program is central to the continued success of Linux,” said Amanda McPherson, director of marketing for The Linux Foundation. “The program has already resulted in a number of drivers ending up in the main Linux kernel source tree, and now, with Greg’s full-time attention, that will increase even more.”

The Linux Driver Project is a community effort to develop and maintain Linux kernel drivers. The goal of the project is to work with vendors and create open source GPLv2 licensed Linux kernel drivers. According to the Linux Driver Project wiki, there are already 100 Linux kernel developers and over 10 project managers who are part of the effort and are gearing up to develop drivers for vendors, for free.

Although the project launched in January, scheduling issues bogged it down. Novell staffer and Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman noted in a mailing list posting that he had to deal with his day job at Novell first before he could work on the drivers project.

“The good news is that this has now changed. As of today, Novell is sponsoring me to work on this Linux driver project as my first priority,” Kroah-Hartman wrote. “This means I will have the time and resources to commit to managing the different developers and driver projects as part of my daily job.”

Justin Steinman, Novell’s director of marketing Linux and open platform solutions, explained to that Kroah-Hartman came to Novell’s management in January and told them that the driver effort is something that Linux really needs. There were, however, tasks that Novell needed Kroah-Hartman’s help on to complete first, like a service pack of SUSE Linux before they could commit him full time to the driver effort. With those efforts now complete, Steinman noted Novell is 100 percent behind Kroah-Hartman’s Linux driver efforts.

Though driver support for Linux is widespread, it isn’t a complete line of driver support. Linux supporters realize this could inhibit Linux adoption.

“It’s a much larger issue on the consumer side than the enterprise,” Steinman said. “We’ve hit the 80/20 rule on the enterprise side, where 20 percent of the drivers do 80 percent of the work but there are still a few key ones we’re trying to fill in.”

On the consumer side, Linux support is lacking, for example, with media devices and other consumer electronics.

“Novell’s goal is to make Linux ubiquitous,” Steinman said. “And addressing the driver problem is one more step toward achieving that goal.”

This article was first published on

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