[linux-elitists] [doc@ssc.com: [Fwd: Plug 'n' Pray to Plug 'n' Play: What's it Going to Take?]]

Greg KH greg@kroah.com
Fri Apr 21 12:57:30 PDT 2006

On Thu, Apr 20, 2006 at 04:37:21PM -0700, Doc Searls wrote:
> At 9:33 AM -0700 4/20/06, Greg KH wrote:
> >On Wed, Apr 19, 2006 at 02:47:48PM -0700, Don Marti wrote:
> >> What Needs to be Done for desktop (and especially laptop) Linux --
> >> to work with whatever devices come along.
> >
> >So you are looking for what to do for new devices?  Or for the devices
> >we currently have today?
> Both.

Fair enough.  But focusing on tomorrow is easier for companies to think
about, while devices today is easier for individuals to handle.

> What happens when users, developers and vendor engineers collaborate 
> without interference from marketing?

We get good things done :)
Look at the many fine drivers that we have in the Linux kernel tree that
are maintained and developed by individuals working at companies that
let them interact with the community directly.  Just look through the
MAINTAINERS file for email addresses with ibm.com and intel.com for
examples of this.

> Can we relieve vendors of the need to make platform-specific software 
> for their devices?

For the kernel?  Probably not, but it all depends on their specific type
of device.

> Of particular interest to me right now is GPS. Garmin makes some 
> great little hand-held GPSes that are useful and fun. I can go 
> geocache-hunting with my kid, navigate a topo map, thread my way 
> through a city, or follow the route of the airplane I'm riding 
> through the sky (not sure if that's legal, but I do it anyway, from 
> my window seat). But to get the maps I use into the GPS I need to use 
> Windows, because Garmin only makes Windows software for installing 
> maps. They also have a business in selling those maps. This is a grrr 
> for me, and I think There Must Be A Better Way.
> Can we relieve Garmin of that development burden (or cost) of doing 
> Windows-only software development? Can we describe to them a better 
> way to relate to the GPS market? For example, by using Web services 
> to put maps in GPS devices, once the laptop or desktop detects the 
> device hooked up by USB? I don't know the answers. I just know the 
> Old Way is goofy.

Funny you should mention Garmin...  I gave my "Write a real, working,
Linux driver" tutorial a few weeks ago at the CELF conference, and there
were about 6 developers in it from Garmin.  I got to talking to them
later and they were all very excited about Linux and had been working
with it for a while.  But they were doing this because they were going
to be using Linux _inside_ their devices, as maintaining their own
custom operating system was just too hard over time (porting to new
platforms, new feature requests, etc.)  So Linux will be inside Garmin
devices, and all of their engineers will be using it.

Now because of that, these engineers will be needing to test their
devices with Linux, as Linux will have suddenly become their desktop
environment in which they do their work (much easier to develop embedded
Linux work on a Linux workstation, it's possible to do it on Windows,
but tough, everyone eventually switches over...)  So those developers
will start to make sure that their userspace tools and other stuff works
just fine with Linux on the desktop.  They are talking already about
following the USB standards for mass-storage, as they don't want to
write a special driver.  Once they do that, it's only a matter of
dropping your newly purchased GPS maps into the device, using any
operating system you want to.

So there is hope, it's an evolutionary process (get the engineers using
it, and it moves outward from there).  It's what happened with Linux on
the server years ago, and now we have a huge chunk of that market.  Same
thing is happening right now with embedded.  Combine those two ends of
the markets, and they will start to bleed into the middle (the desktop)
without much trouble at all.

Remember, we are in this for the long haul.  Things are getting better
and we aren't going away any time soon.  We have already evolved to
being the operating system of choice on the huge supercomputers and on
the tiny embedded systems.  World domination is continuing as planned :)

Thanks for letting me rant...

greg k-h

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