[linux-elitists] on hardware compatability

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Fri Sep 20 00:09:12 PDT 2002

Quoting Nick Moffitt (nick@zork.net):

> But that's all slowed down.  We no longer have the video-card-per-day
> phenomenon.  Lots of vendors have died out and the driver authors
> don't need to move as fast to keep up.  So we see instead a next-rev
> of the neomagic chipset, with minimal work for both the neomagic folks
> and the XFree86 authors.  

You're on to something.  But I can think of one countertrend, that's
taken hold for the same reasons:  the further growth of hardware crippled
to hit low pricepoints.  Winmodems, winprinters, MS-Windows-dependent
ADSL modems, and software-driven ATA RAID controllers have spread like a
particularly loathsome plague.  

The other shoe regarding winmodems fell, a while back:  Conexant started
a pseudo-open-source driver project, at http://www.mbsi.ca/cnxtlindrv/ ,
whereby they've defined a fixed interface surrounding their "secret sauce" 
proprietary HSF/HCP-chipset driver, and are trying to con the open
source community into maintaining all the glue code surrounding that
driver, keeping it usable with newer Linux kernels despite the evolving
kernel driver interface.  The revised Conexant codebase is thus their
_alternative_ to cooperating with the kernel team to develop an
open-source driver.

(I've seen one sucker^Wcustomer on a LUG mailing list attempting to rope
in coders to assist this effort.  He says I shouldn't write off Conexant
so quickly; that it might be a first step towards open source, as with
HP and inkjet printers.  He may be right.)

On the brighter side, there's IBM, which genuinely open-sourced its
ACP/MWave winmodem code:  http://www-124.ibm.com/acpmodem/ 

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