[linux-elitists] on hardware compatability

Greg KH greg@kroah.com
Thu Sep 19 22:47:47 PDT 2002


On Thu, Sep 19, 2002 at 03:23:42PM -0700, Nick Moffitt wrote:
> It just seems to me like the kernel is catching up because hardware is
> taking a hare's nap.

That's probably true.  But I think a number of other things have also
helped out to enable the kernel to do well:

- Companies are now approaching Linux developers, or have hired Linux
  developers to help support their hardware.  For the most part, all
  they have to provide is some specs and some hardware samples.  For
  that they get a driver that works, and is supported for forever.  More
  and more companies are realizing this is incredibly cheap, and more
  than pays for itself.  Because of this Linux has USB 2.0 support and
  PCI Hotplug support, to name two projects that I know were developed
  this way.

- More and more companies are bringing up their hardware for the first
  time on Linux, as it is so much easier to use in the debugging phase
  (access to source code, serial console support, etc.) so as a side
  effect, those nasty BIOS problems we used to have are already fixed by
  the time the machine makes it to market.  That's not to say that
  BIOSes are getting better and work nice with Linux, by a long shot,
  but things are slowly improving, starting with the engineers in the
  development process.  Look at the first demos of ia64 and x86-64, what
  OS were they running?  :)

- You might want to attribute the ease of installation of Linux on the
  simple fact that you usually _have_ to install it, so a lot of people
  have worked very hard to make that easier.  For the most part, no one
  ever installs Windows, and so, the installation process sucks.  If
  reviewers started reporting Windows install times when reviewing new
  releases of the OS (including the time to install the latest security
  updates) that might change.

- As for the kernel working better on a wider range of hardware, I think
  that is because of the "monolithic" way Linux does device drivers (it
  ties them all together into one big kernel package.)  This lets people
  cut the cruft of old interfaces, and not have to support legacy APIs,
  and makes sure everything works together.  I love pointing people who
  are looking for a driver to just look in their kernel, they don't have
  to download if from the manufacturers site :)

All together, I think these things have helped Linux do better on a
wider range of hardware.

And I do agree about the pace of new hardware.  I was starting to get
very nervous about the approach of Inifiband, and the lack of working
Linux support (well, make that "a free, working, Linux implementation").
If this were the late 90's, machines with Innifiband would have actually
shipped, and Linux would have had to play catch-up, much like I2O
support was done.  Thankfully it looks like Inifiband is dead, so all I
have to worry about is what's after PCI-X :)

greg k-h



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