Tuesday, January 30, 2007

IBM's idea of kicking Microsoft?

Greg Kroah is one of the Linux Kernel Developers directly employed by IBM. Mr. Kroah has his own site and blog at http://www.kroah.com.

Coincidentally, today is also the day that Microsoft launched Windows Vista, which has a couple of issues. I've already fussed about the state of known problems with the Operating System on this particular blog just days ago, and commented on the security problems back in October 2006.

One of the issues that I haven't talked about has been the state of Vista's drivers. Several popular high end consumer parts for Windows NT5 and Linux, such as Creative's Audigy and X-Fi cards don't work in Vista. High to Low end graphics cards also have issues from ATi and Nvidia. In short, the driver situation for Vista is completely screwed up.

So, maybe I'm reading between the lines a bit too much, but Mr. Kroah wrote the following in his blog here : http://www.kroah.com/log/2007/01/29/#free_drivers

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.

If your company is worried about NDA issues surrounding your device's specifications, we have arranged a program with OSDL/TLF's Tech Board to provide the legal framework where a company can interact with a member of the kernel community in order to properly assure that all needed NDA requirements are fulfilled.

Now your developers will have more time to work on drivers for all of the other operating systems out there, and you can add "supported on Linux" to your product's marketing material.

This offer is in effect for all different types of devices, from USB toys to PCI video devices to high-speed networking cards. If you manufacture it, we can get Linux drivers working for it.

Ouch, I wonder if that's IBM's way of Kicking Microsoft's Teeth in over Drive Support. Greg Kroah, and by extension of IBM by employment, stating that they can get Linux Drivers working for any hardware?

Wow... that's all I can say.
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