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Linux Kernel Devs Offer Free Driver Development

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the Nvidia-this-means-you dept.

Announcements 348

schwaang writes "Linux Kernel hacker Greg Kroah-Hartman, author of Linux Kernel in a Nutshell has posted an epic announcement on his blog. This could portend increased device compatibility for Linux users, higher-quality drivers, and fewer non-free binary blobs." From the announcement: "[T]he Linux kernel community is offering all companies free Linux driver development... 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. If your company is worried about NDA issues surrounding your device's specifications, we have arranged a program... 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."

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How many (5, Insightful)

Magada (741361) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812220)

I wonder how many companies will be imprudent/progressive enough to take up this offer.

Re:How many (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812274)

> I wonder how many companies will be imprudent/progressive enough to take up this offer.

All the ones which have identified Linux as a platform which can be profitably supported, but where they've unaccountably decided not to support it. I'd imagine it's a pretty small subset.

Re:How many (5, Interesting)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812414)

I would disagree. Linux drivers are not made since they do not generate profit, largely due to the small user base verses the cost of developing the driver. If there is but a modest cost of a dev answering a few questions, it may be worth their while if it means shipping another 200 widgets.

Re:How many (3, Insightful)

Magada (741361) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812452)

Widgets, yes. But video cards?

Re:How many (3, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812580)

Video cards are already well-supported by their manufacturers. I'd be more interested in seeing wireless drivers, Broadcomm network drivers, and video capture and hardware encoding drivers.

Oh, and don't forget printer drivers. But that's more a userspace thing.

Re:How many (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812776)

The linux user base for *any* server hardware is huge, but I still have found new pci network cards that don't work with linux straight away. They were returned, off course. The company doing them must be suicidal.

On the other hand, if we are talking about desktop consumer hardware, that is a very different thing.

Re:How many (2, Insightful)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812862)

True enough. I think desktop hardware is going to be key - if Linux is going to become a viable alternative for the girlfriend, then the hardware has to 'just work'. Offering free driver dev is a big step in the right direction. Once we have a 'just works' solution that is free (as in beer), I think we will see a larger pool of converts. Also, if this program takes off, companies seeing the benefits of including the Linux community may initiate projects for to be release products, allowing Linux to stay more up to date with cutting edge software - another big win.

With few notable exceptions... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812930)

The costs of making a driver are minimal, even to the point of most devices actually showing a profit because they sell more than enough devices to offset the extra costs. The only really obvious exception to this would be a 3D accelerator driver- and even then, it's more of a chicken and egg situation. The profit could be there if they'd sink the money.

Re:How many (5, Interesting)

gjuk (940514) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812974)

The key driver (pardon the pun) will not be how many extra widgets they sell but the the strategic importance to most companies of reducing reliance upon Microsoft's hegemony. If you are a widget developer, you do not want to be in the position of most, dancing to the unrestricted tune of Microsoft. You need some collective force to help push back on Microsoft when necessary, or to demonstrate the worth of new ideas which Microsoft may not have picked up on. Having a competitor to Microsoft (even quite a small one) is a massively powerful force in this.

seems like a good idea (5, Insightful)

battery111 (620778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812226)

Seems like a good idea, but it also seems like it would give the device manufacturers an out. "I'm sorry, but we don't officially support the linux operating system". This way they get drivers written for them for free, and don't need to provide any tech support for the device to those users who purchase it for linux. Anyone else see this happening?

Re:seems like a good idea (4, Interesting)

scenestar (828656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812284)

No, those drivers would most likely be written by the community anyways.

To me it seems more like an initiative to figure out which companies use "we don't have the staff/resources for an open driver" to keep their drivers proprietary.

Re:seems like a good idea (4, Insightful)

zootm (850416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812764)

Another way of looking at it would be as formalising the rule that "if you give us specifications, the driver will get written". A lot of the problems with free software drivers is lack of information on how a device works; if this makes it better known that all they have to do is provide some specification, it might encourage companies to submit more of them, and encourage customers to ask people to submit more of them.

Re:seems like a good idea (5, Insightful)

ricebowl (999467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812298)

It might give the device manufacturers an out but, more importantly, won't it equally give the Linux family an 'in'?

The point isn't, so far as I can see, to make any profit from the scheme other than to spread the word of Linux and increase the potential compatibilities/reduce the incompatibilities.

Plus, as a bonus for the device driver writers, it's an impressive CV when you consider the varieties of hardware that are supported by the various Linux distros and the work, and potential elegance, that goes into solving the various demands.

It seems win-win for everyone, really. And a good, and generous, idea.

Re:seems like a good idea (5, Insightful)

david.given (6740) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812648)

The point isn't, so far as I can see, to make any profit from the scheme other than to spread the word of Linux and increase the potential compatibilities/reduce the incompatibilities.

In fact, this is how it's always worked --- people have been asking companies for device information for years. (I did, once; I wanted the specs for a SIM reader device so I could do a Linux driver. Did I get a response? Did I hell.) The only difference is that this announcement rephrases things in a rather more marketspeak and official manner. Instead of the companies doing us a favour, by providing hardware specs, we are now doing them a favour, by writing their drivers for them.

It's a rather neat bit of lateral thinking.

Re:seems like a good idea (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812306)

And this would be different from the current situation how?

Re:seems like a good idea (1)

solanum (80810) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812350)

It would be different from the current situation in that devs would actually get the specs and access to an engineer, rather than having to reverse engineer stuff.

Re:seems like a good idea (1)

niconorsk (787297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812308)

From the blog post:

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.
So, yes, I can see this happening. But that was part of the point of the whole article. And it doesn't give them an out for physical hardware problems as the most you would have to do is test it on some Windows box and see if it works on that.

Re:seems like a good idea (3, Interesting)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812316)

This way they get drivers written for them for free, and don't need to provide any tech support for the device to those users who purchase it for linux.

I'd say that's pretty much the state of play for the majority of Linux drivers anyway. To be fair I have no way to back up that claim, but it feels that way to me.

My guess is most printer drivers are community developed. Also Modems, and Network adapters, Hard Disks and older video adapters, and Removable Mass Storage devices. The only big 'playas' doing anything in the LDD world are AMD, NVidia, HP and, I guess, Intel. Those contributions are nothing compared to their Windows effort.

This leaves scores of small manf. who hopefully will be interested enough in gaining that additional 5% market share to cooperate.

Where do I sign up as a developer?

Re:seems like a good idea (2, Informative)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812450)

As far as printers go, HP has a driver out now thats pretty slick (HPLIP). It doesn't do everything, but it does most of the personal printers. (Not to mention they make damn good printers). []

Re:seems like a good idea (3, Insightful)

Speed Pour (1051122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812614)

Sure it'll happen, of course there are companies that will be eager to treat this as a freebie...But who cares? Even a few of the companies that "support" linux aren't all that serious about it half of the time. The burden of support falls on the linux community in the end anyway. At least with an offer like this, it might encourage companies to assign one or two people to lend a hand with keeping the devices supported with the community in creating the drivers, and the support, like normal, will still end up in forums.

In case nobody has noticed, most companies don't do support all that well even under windows. Hey, at the end of the day, as long as the drivers are open sourced, it's better than having binaries that may never see an update.

I say three cheers to a great and honest effort!

Re:seems like a good idea (2, Interesting)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812724)

"Supporting" Linux under all circumstances, versions, and distros isn't really possible if "support" is meant to be a guarantee that the device will work. Chances are, the device will work if there's a free software driver for it and it's being used under reasonable circumstances (Ubuntu or Debian, not tinylittleunheardofdistro).

Really, we don't want "support". We just want a guarantee that they don't know of any reason why things shouldn't work. If Dell gives us a PC that will work with Linux, they shouldn't include any hardware that there isn't a driver for. If Logitech gives us a mouse that will work with Linux, they shouldn't not release the specifications.

Hardware ? (5, Insightful)

Rastignac (1014569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812234)

"All that is needed is some kind of specification that describes how your device works". They also need some real hardware to test the brand new written drivers. Specifications are not enough. Who will test the real hardware with the fresh drivers in a real-world operation ?

Re:Hardware ? (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812278)

Well, why not us beta testers?

Re:Hardware ? (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812322)

I've never developed drivers, but I'd say it would be very hard to develop a driver for a piece of hardware a developer can't test it with!

Re:Hardware ? (3, Funny)

rbochan (827946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812632)

Well, why not us beta testers?
Ballmer: "We refer to them as customers."

/try the veal

Re:Hardware ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812300)

from tfa

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.

Re:Hardware ? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812718)

Isn't this the way it's always worked? Up until now, they've either had to guess, reverse engineer, or look at specs to develop the drivers. This just seems like an awareness campaign. I'm sure the devs were always willing to develop drivers, especially when they could get their hands on the specs.

Re:Hardware ? (1)

Zombie (8332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812820)

You are exactly right. This is a marketing-style announcement. Its only purpose is to try to sway hardware vendor management into releasing specs because, look here, they're getting such a great deal. Free development. You'd have to be crazy not to do it!

In reality, that's already the way it was; release your specs, and a driver will be written. IF your hardware actually sells and enough people care.

wow! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812240)

Microsoft will take a new approach toward mid-size companies it suspects of using unlicensed software, sending a series of letters culminating in a threat of legal action from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a company official said today. By involving the BSA, which is an advocate for copyright and intellectual property issues, Microsoft is hoping to "spark off the engagement" with its customers, said Ram Dhaliwal, Microsoft's licensing programs manager in the UK. "If they are using our software, we are simply going to ask them to pay for it," said Dhaliwal, whose group runs the company's Software Asset Management (SAM) programme. In the past, Microsoft contacted companies by phone or email and asked to come in and audit their software. Microsoft contends companies have an incentive to have legally licensed software, and its audit and asset management teams also can look for ways the company can save money, he said. Most companies comply, but up to 3 percent don't. Under the new programme, if Microsoft doesn't receive a response after 14 days, the company will send a succession of three "escalation" letters over three weeks. The last two letters warn the case could be turned over the BSA, which could pursue legal action, Dhaliwal said. Microsoft is targeting companies with around 250 PCs in the initiative. Companies of that size often have problems with using incorrectly licensed and counterfeit software, Dhaliwal said. Microsoft keeps purchase records for volume-licence customers, and those lists can reveal usage inconsistencies, Dhaliwal said. For example, a company with 250 PCs may be flagged if it bought several server licences but only two client-access licences, which are required to connect desktops to an Exchange email server. "At that point, if the customer point blank is refusing and or telling us he doesn't want to talk with us and we are seeing this large discrepancy, that's when we will engage the BSA," Dhaliwal said. The BSA has 100 piracy investigations ongoing against UK businesses, it said last month. Some 27 percent of the software used by UK businesses is illegal, the BSA said, citing statistics from market analyst IDC. So far, Microsoft will use the new approach only in the UK, Dhaliwal said. Jackson at the Brit Awards in 1996. At the 1996 Brit Awards, Jackson performed the track "Earth Song", dressed in white and surrounded by children and an actor portraying a Rabbi. In an attempt to recreate a scene from the video - where he is spreading his arms between two trees - it seemed that Jackson was making Christ-like poses whilst being lifted into the air by a crane with a wind machine blowing back his hair. Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker and his friend Peter Mansell mounted a stage invasion in protest. Cocker leapt onstage, pretended to expose his rear, danced and sat back down. In response to the ensuing media scrutiny of the action, Cocker responded, "My actions were a form of protest at the way Michael Jackson sees himself as some kind of Christ-like figure with the power of healing... I just ran on the stage and showed off... All I was trying to do was make a point and do something that lots of other people would have loved to have done if only they'd dared."[40] Cocker received vocal support from the British press: the March 2, 1996 edition of Melody Maker, for example, suggested Cocker should be knighted, while Noel Gallagher claimed "Jarvis Cocker is a star and he should be given MBE." Gallagher said of Jackson's behavior: "for Michael Jackson to come over to this country after what's all gone on - and I think we all know what I'm talking about here - to dress in a white robe, right, thinking he's the Messiah - I mean who does he think he is? Me?"[41] The cover of Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. In 1997, Jackson released an album of new material with remixes of hit singles from HIStory titled Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix.[37] The album's five original songs were named "Blood On The Dance Floor", "Is It Scary?", "Ghosts", "Superfly Sister" and "Morphine". Of the new songs, three were released globally: the title track, "Ghosts", and "Is It Scary?". The title track reached number-one in the UK. The singles "Ghosts" and "Is It Scary" were based on a film created by Jackson called "Ghosts".[42] The short film, written by Michael Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston, features many special effects and dance moves choreographed to original music written by Michael Jackson.[43] The music video for "Ghosts" is over 35 minutes long and is currently the Worlds Longest Music Video.[44] Jackson dedicated the album to Elton John, who reportedly helped him through his addiction to painkillers, notably morphine. In 1998 Jackson reached an out-of-court settlement with the Daily Mirror, which apologized for having described his face as "hideously disfigured and scarred." Steven Hoefflin, a high-profile Hollywood plastic surgeon alleged to have operated on Jackson's nose was, according to the press, also advising him against further surgery.[26] 2001-2003: Invincible, Berlin and Martin Bashir Main articles: Invincible (album) and Living with Michael Jackson In October 2001, Invincible was released[45] and debuted at number-one in thirteen countries.[33] The singles released from the album include "You Rock My World", "Cry", and "Butterflies". Jackson and 35 other artists recorded a charity benefit single entitled "What More Can I Give" which was never released. Just before the release of Invincible, Jackson informed the head of Sony Music Entertainment, Tommy Mottola, that he was not going to renew his contract;[31] the contract was about to expire in terms of supplying the label with albums of full-new material for release through Epic Records/SME. In 2002, all singles releases, video shootings and promotions concerning the Invincible album were cancelled. As a result of this, Jackson made allegations about Mottola not supporting its African American artists.[31] Jackson referred to Mottola as a "devil" and a "racist" who used black artists for his own personal gain.[31] He cited that Mottola called Jackson's colleague Irv Gotti a "fat nigger."[46][47] Sony issued a statement stating that they found the allegations strange, since Mottola was once married to biracial pop star Mariah Carey. Carey herself seemed nonchalant about Jackson's claims when asked about them by Larry King on Larry King Live.[48] On September 7 and September 10, 2001, Jackson organised a special 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden for his 30th year of being a solo artist. Later, the show aired on November 13, 2001.[45] It featured performances by Mýa, Usher, Whitney Houston, Billy Gilman, Shaggy, Rayvon, Rikrok, Destiny's Child, Monica, Deborah Cox, Rah Digga, Tamia, James Ingram, Gloria Estefan, 98 Degrees, Luther Vandross, Liza Minnelli, Lil' Romeo, Master P, 'N Sync, the Jacksons and Slash.[49] In late 2002, Jackson's Heal the World Foundation had net assets of just $3,542 and reported $2,585 in expenses, mostly for "management fees." The foundation has been suspended in California since April 2002 for failing to file annual statements required of tax-exempt organizations, said John Barrett, spokesman for the state Franchise Tax Board.[50] Michael Jackson holding his youngest son over a balcony railing. In November 2002, Jackson travelled to Berlin to accept an award for his humanitarian efforts. He was surrounded by fans outside his room at the Hotel Adlon who were chanting in approval of the singer. According to the pop star, they also called out to see his baby. In response, Jackson brought his son onto the balcony, holding him in his right arm with a towel over the baby's head, apparently to protect his identity. Jackson briefly extended the baby over the railing of the balcony. This raised concern as some perceived his actions as child endangerment. Jackson quickly returned the child to the room. After watching media coverage of the Berlin event, a California attorney and radio talk show host, Gloria Allred, wrote a letter to California's Child Protective Services, asking for an investigation into the safety of Jackson's children. She also spoke on CNN about the subject. Child Protective Services does not make their investigations public, so it is not known whether any action was taken as a result of Allred's letter. When a reporter asked Jackson what he thought of Allred's complaints, he remarked "Ah, tell her to go to hell."[51] In the documentary Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson said that the media was wrong in their comments about him being irresponsible with his children, "I love my children", he explained. "I was holding my son tight. Why would I throw a baby off the balcony? That's the dumbest, stupidest story I ever heard." In February 2003, a controversial documentary titled Living with Michael Jackson aired in the UK (on the 3rd) and in the US (on the 6th). The documentary included interviews with Jackson which included information on his private life.[52] British journalist Martin Bashir and his film crew filmed Jackson for 18 months, also capturing his controversial behavior in Berlin. One particular part of the documentary, which stirred controversy and raised a significant level of concern, showed Jackson holding hands with a then 13-year-old cancer victim Gavin Arviso, and admitting to sharing his bedroom with him (but not in the same bed) as well as sharing his bed (non-sexually) with other children. Jackson felt betrayed by Bashir and complained that the film gives a distorted picture.[53] In response to the media scrutiny, two specials were aired: Michael Jackson: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See and Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies.[54] Michael Jackson: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See which aired later in February showed uncut footage of the Living with Michael Jackson documentary. The Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies aired in April was a 2-hour special with footage of Michael Jackson's home videos and included commentary by Jackson. In June 2003, Jackson's friend, actor Marlon Brando, signed a half-acre plot of land on his island Tetiaroa to Jackson, in gratitude for Jackson hosting a party for Brando's daughter, Nina, then aged 13.[55] Also in 2003, Jackson announced that he was working on, Resurrection,[56] a follow-up album to Invincible. It was also revealed that Jackson had made a 'mini-movie' to promote the album. In the movie, Jackson played a man who is resurrected. In March 2003, "Xscape" was released onto the radio, with many believing that this would be the first single off Jackson's new album. The album was shelved for unknown reasons and was replaced by Number Ones. 2003-2006: Trial, acquittal and the aftermath Main articles: People v. Jackson, Post trial lawsuits against Michael Jackson, and I Have This Dream In November 2003, Michael Jackson and Sony Records released a compilation of his number-one hits on CD and DVD titled Number Ones. The compilation has sold over six million copies worldwide.[57] On the album's scheduled release date, while Michael Jackson was in Las Vegas filming the video for "One More Chance" (the only new song included in the Number Ones compilation), the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department searched the Neverland Ranch and issued an arrest warrant for Jackson on charges of new child molestation.[58] Jackson was accused of sexual abuse by Gavin Arviso, who appeared in the Living with Michael Jackson documentary earlier that year. The allegations later led to a trial in which Jackson was found not guilty of all charges.[59] On December 17, 2003, there were media reports that Jackson converted to the Nation of Islam.[60] Later, in 2005, it was also reported that he built a mosque on land adjoining the Bahraini royal family's home.[61] Jackson in 2003, during his arrest on child molestation charges. Marlon Brando informed Jackson on February 8, 2004 that the declarations made by Jordy Chandler relating to the 1993 child molestation allegations had been published on the internet site The Smoking Gun. This happened when Jackson was about to start an interview with journalist Ed Bradley for 60 Minutes. Jackson immediately left the studio and did not conduct the interview.[62] Jackson also attended Brando's memorial service in 2004 along with Sean Penn, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty. Also on August 6, 2004, Man In The Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story debuted on VH1 starring Flex Alexander as Michael Jackson.[63] Rapper Eminem parodied new allegations raised against Jackson by Gavin Arviso in his music video for "Just Lose It" in 2004. The clip caused controversy and fueled Jackson to make a statement. The People v. Jackson trial began in Santa Maria, California on January 31, 2005 and lasted until the end of May 2005. On June 10, Jackson's PR, Raymone Bain was reportedly fired.[64] Jackson's now-defunct website cited that "MJJ Productions regretfully announces the termination of Raymone Bain and Davis, Bain and Associates. We thank you for your services." Bain later told the Associated Press that she had not been fired and that only Michael Jackson, not his production company (operated at the time by his brother, Randy Jackson), could fire her.[65] Bain continues releasing press statements and answering media enquiries on behalf of Michael Jackson, and was named general manager of the Michael Jackson Company, Inc. on June 27, 2006.[66] On June 13, Jackson was acquitted of all ten charges, including four additional lesser ones. CNN later reported that one of the jurors, Ray Hultman, believed he had committed child sex crimes in the past but there was not enough evidence to prove it,[67] and he and another juror announced impending books on their experiences in the trial. In September 2005, it was reported that Ray Hultman took legal action against the publisher of his book about experiences in the trial, claiming heavy portions were plagiarized from a Vanity Fair article. Hultman also stated he felt "threatened" by the jury foreman Paul Rodriguez and regretted acquitting Jackson.[68] After being acquitted of the child molestation charges, Jackson relocated to the Gulf island of Bahrain, where he reportedly bought a house formerly owned by a Bahrain MP.[69] Jackson allegedly spent his time in the Gulf writing new music, including a charity single dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Katrina entitled, "I Have This Dream". Ciara, Snoop Dogg, R. Kelly, Keyshia Cole, James Ingram, Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine, Shanice, the Reverend Shirley Caesar and The O'Jays all reportedly lent their voices to the charity song. After many delays, the single was not released, despite being announced on September 13, 2005. At the time, Jackson's spokesperson Raymone Bain said the list included Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, James Brown and Lenny Kravitz. It later appeared that these artists were no longer participating.[70] The charity single remains unreleased. In 2006, allegations of sexual assault were made against Jackson by a man who claims Michael Jackson molested him, intoxicated him with drugs and alcohol, and forced him to undergo unnecessary cosmetic surgery. Michael Jackson's lawyer Thomas Mesereau, who successfully defended him against allegations of child molestation in 2005, said "the charges are ridiculous on their face. They will be vigorously defended."[71] 2006-present: Visionary, Tokyo and the World Music Awards In February 2006, Jackson's label released Visionary: The Video Singles, a box set made up of twenty of his biggest hit singles, each of which were issued individually week by week over a five-month period.[72] The Visionary box set. An appeals court ruled on February 15, that a lower court improperly terminated Deborah Rowe's parental rights to her two children with pop star Michael Jackson, opening the door to a possible custody battle between the singer and his ex-wife.[73] The retired judge, Steven M. Lachs, acknowledged in 2004 that he failed to have state officials do an independent investigation into what was in the best interests of the children.[74][75] As of September 29, 2006, the case has reportedly been settled according to the lawyers representing each party. On March 9, 2006, California state labor officials closed the singer's Neverland Ranch and fined him $69,000 for failure to provide employment insurance. The state "stop order" bars Jackson from "using any employee labor" until he secured required workers' compensation insurance. In addition to being fined $1,000 for each of his 69 workers, Jackson is liable for up to 10 days pay for those employees who now are no longer allowed to report to Neverland for work.[76] Thirty Neverland employees have also sued Jackson for $306,000 in unpaid wages.[77] Soon after this payment, Jackson's spokesperson announced on March 16, 2006 that Jackson was closing his house at Neverland and had laid off some of the employees but added that reports of the closing of the entire ranch were inaccurate.[78] There have been many reports of a possible sale of Neverland, but nothing tangible has been reported yet. Michael Jackson with his daughter Paris Katherine at Disneyland Paris, June 18, 2006. In a move named by Jackson's advisors as "refinancing," it was announced on April 14, 2006 that Jackson had struck a deal with Sony and Fortress Investments. In the deal Sony may be allowed to take control of half of Jackson's 50% stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing (worth an estimated $1 billion) which Jackson co-owns. Jackson would be left with 25% of the catalogue, with the rest belonging to Sony. In exchange, Sony negotiated with a loans company on behalf of Jackson. Jackson's $200m in loans were due in December 2005 and were secured on the catalogue. Jackson failed to pay and the Bank of America sold them to Fortress Investments, a company dealing in distressed loans. However, Jackson hasn't as yet sold any of the remainder of his stake. The possible purchase by Sony of 25% of Sony/ATV Music Publishing is a conditional option; it is assumed the singer will try to avoid having to sell part of the catalogue of songs including material by other artists such as Bob Dylan and Destiny's Child. As another part of the deal Jackson was given a new $300 million loan, and a lower interest rate on the old loan to match the original Bank of America rate. When the loan was sold to Fortress Investments they increased the interest rate to 20%.[79] None of the details are officially confirmed. An advisor to Jackson, however, did publicly announce he had "restructured his finances with the assistance of Sony."[80] On April 18, 2006, Michael Jackson signed a management deal with English music producer Guy Holmes. Holmes is the recently appointed CEO of Two Seas Records, with whom Jackson has signed a recording contract for one album. The album is set for a fall 2007 release.[81] On May 27, 2006, Michael Jackson accepted a Legend Award at MTV Japan's VMA Awards in Tokyo. It was his first major public appearance since being found not guilty in his child molestation trial almost a year earlier. The award honors his influence and impact on music videos in the last 25 years. Following the award ceremony, Jackson also made an appearance on SMAPxSMAP.[82] In 2006, F. Marc Schaffel, a former associate of Jackson, filed a suit for millions of dollars allegedly owed to him after working with Jackson on an unreleased charity record named "What More Can I Give" and documentaries. Florida businessman Alvin Malnik, who had advised Jackson, appeared in court and stated that Jackson appeared to be bewildered by financial matters. Schaffel claimed to have made frequent loans to the singer totaling between $7 million and $10 million. Schaffel had received an urgent plea from Jackson for $1 million so that Jackson could buy jewelry for Elizabeth Taylor so that she would agree to sign a release for her involvement in a Fox special.[83] These court proceedings also brought to light unsuccessful projects planned with the actor Marlon Brando, including a dual interview at the actor's private island near Tahiti, and a DVD on acting.[83] Brando's son Miko Brando, a long time bodyguard and assistant to Jackson stated "The last time my father left his house to go anywhere, to spend any kind of time... was with Michael Jackson." "He loved it... [He] had a 24-hour chef, 24-hour security, 24-hour help, 24-hour kitchen, 24-hour maid service."[84] Michael Jackson with his children, Paris Katherine (center) and Prince Michael I (right) at Disneyland Paris, June 18, 2006. On July 14, 2006, the jury awarded Schaffel $900,000 of the original $3.8 million he sued Jackson for, which Schaffel later reduced to $1.6 million, and finally to $1.4 million.[85] The jury also awarded Jackson $200,000 plus interest of the $660,000 that Jackson claimed he was owed by Schaffel. The trial revealed that Schaffel had been dismissed after Jackson learned of his past work as a director of gay pornography. Schaffel claimed that Jackson "once wanted him to go to Brazil to find boys for him to adopt. He later modified that statement to "children" to expand Jackson's family."[86] Jackson's lawyer Thomas Mundell said that he had never heard the allegation during the pre-trial investigation and that "it was an effort to smear Mr Jackson with a remark that could be interpreted to hurt him in light of the case against him last year."[87] On July 31, 2006, a federal judge allowed a $48 million claim against Jackson and one of Jackson's trusts for unpaid fees and breach of contract. All parties were ordered to reappear in court in September.[88] On November 2 and November 3, 2006, Access Hollywood aired a special Michael Jackson in Ireland which showed Jackson and of The Black Eyed Peas in the process of recording Jackson's new album.[89] Michael Jackson performing "We are the World" at the 2006 World Music Awards. On November 14, 2006, Sony officially released the Visionary box set.[90] He also visited the London office of the Guinness World Records. There, he received eight awards: "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time", "Youngest Vocalist to Top the US Singles Charts" (at the age of 11 as part of the Jackson Five), "First Vocalist to Enter the US Singles Chart at Number One" (for "You Are Not Alone"), "First Entertainer to Earn More Than 100 million Dollars in a Year", "Highest Paid Entertainer of All Time" ($125 in 1989), "First Entertainer to Sell More Than 100 Million Albums Outside the US", "Most Weeks at the Top of the US Albums Chart" (for the album Thriller) and "Most Successful Music Video" (for the music video Thriller).[91] On November 15, 2006, Michael Jackson received the Diamond Award, for selling over 100 million albums, at the World Music Awards. This was his second public appearance at an awards show since the trial of 2005.[92] Despite substantial publicity prior to the event,[93][94][95] he did not perform "Thriller", limiting his performance to "one verse and one chorus" of "We are the World".[96] Coverage of the event noted that Jackson "looked uncomfortable at times" and called the appearance "an unhappy return to the London stage."[97] According to the head of public relations for the World Music Awards (Julius Just), the sound was cut due to a noise curfew. Officials at Earl's Court, the arena where the event was held, have said that this was not the case and that they had "accommodated the show and the show's organisers by obtaining an extension to our licence in order to allow the show to run to eleven o'clock."[98] On December 30, 2006, more than 8000 people including family, friends and fans of James Brown watched as several artists, including Jackson, paid tribute to the 'Godfather of Soul'.[99] Reverend Al Sharpton, who was close to Brown, delivered his sermon at the funeral, in which he stated that in the last conversation he had with Brown, he had said that artists like Jackson needed to continue to make positive music for all people.[99] In late 2006, a recording surfaced, entitled "Gangsta" (also known as "No Friend of Mine"). The song features vocals by Jackson.[100] On January 26, 2007, Jackson returned to the United States, having left Ireland. He mentioned plans of a pair of "fan appreciation events" in Japan, in March. One of the events, which was originally planned for Christmas 2006, will charge $3,300 for entrance. He explained the reason for chosing Japan: "My friends and fans in Japan have been so supportive of me and my family for many, many years."[101] In the third quarter of 2007, Jackson is expected to release a comeback album. There have been reports of collaborations with (of The Black Eyed Peas),[102] Teddy Riley,[103], DJ Whoo Kid,[103] Akon[102] , Chris Brown and 50 Cent.[102] Initially, it was thought that the Bahraini-based label Two Seas would release the album, but, in September 2006, it was made apparent that Jackson and Two Seas were no longer affiliated with each other.[104] Consequently, Jackson formed The Michael Jackson Company which will oversee both his finances and the release of his new album.[104] There may also be plans for a world tour to support the album.[105] Ernest Miller Hemingway Ernest Hemingway, 1950 Born: July 21, 1899 Oak Park, Illinois Died: July 2, 1961 Ketchum, Idaho Occupation(s): Writer and journalist Literary movement: The Lost Generation Influences: Gertrude Stein, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Pío Baroja, Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser Influenced: Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger, Hunter S. Thompson, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, Douglas Coupland, Charles Bukowski Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 - July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. His distinctive writing style is characterized by economy and understatement and had a significant influence on the development of twentieth century fiction writing. Hemingway's protagonists are typically stoics, men who must show "grace under pressure." Many of his works are considered classics in the canon of American literature. Hemingway, nicknamed "Papa," was part of the 1920s expatriate community in Paris, as described in his memoir A Moveable Feast, and was known as part of "the Lost Generation," a name he popularized. He led a turbulent social life, was married four times, and allegedly had various romantic relationships during his lifetime. Hemingway received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. In 1961, he committed suicide by way of shotgun to the face. He was 61 years old. Contents [hide] 1 Early life 2 World War I 3 Literary aftermath of WWI 3.1 First novels and other early works 4 Early critical interplay 5 Key West and the Spanish Civil War 6 The Forty-Nine Stories 7 For Whom the Bell Tolls 8 World War II and its aftermath 9 Later years 10 Suicide 11 Wives and descendants 12 Posthumous publications 13 Influence and legacy 13.1 Awards and honors 13.2 Hemingway in fiction, art, and song 14 Trivia 14.1 Works 14.1.1 Novels/novellas 14.1.2 Nonfiction 14.1.3 Short story collections 14.1.4 Movies based on Hemingway's works 14.2 Notes 14.3 References 14.4 External links Early life A baby picture, c. 1900 Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Cicero, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago (during his early life, the area in which Hemingway was born split from Cicero and became Oak Park) in 1902. Hemingway was the first son and the second of six children born to Clarence Edmonds ("Doctor Ed") and Grace Hall Hemingway. Hemingway's physician father attended the birth of Ernest and blew a horn on his front porch to announce to the neighbors that his wife had borne a baby boy. The Hemingways lived in a six-bedroom Victorian house built by Ernest's widowed maternal grandfather, Ernest Hall, an English immigrant and Civil War veteran who lived with the family. Hemingway was his namesake. Hemingway's neurotic mother had considerable talent and had once aspired to an opera career and earned money giving voice and music lessons. She was domineering and narrowly religious, mirroring the strict Protestant ethic of Oak Park, which Hemingway later said had "wide lawns and narrow minds."[1] His mother had wanted to bear twins, and when this did not happen, she dressed young Ernest and his sister Marcelline (eighteen months his senior) in similar clothes and with similar hairstyles, maintaining the pretense of the two children being "twins." Grace Hemingway perhaps further 'feminised' her son in his youth by calling him "Ernestine."[2] Though much is made of this by biographers, male infants and toddlers of the Victorian middle-class were often dressed as females. Many themes in Hemingway's work point to destructive interactions between male and female sexual partners (cf. "Hills Like White Elephants"), within marital unions (cf. "Now I Lay Me"), and among most other combinations of men and women (cf. The Sun Also Rises); in addition certain posthumously published pieces contain ambiguous treatment of gender roles. However, the connection between Hemingway's depiction of these human conditions and his own early childhood experiences is not presumptively established. While his mother hoped that her son would develop an interest in music, Hemingway adopted his father's outdoorsy interests of hunting, fishing, and camping in the woods and lakes of northern Michigan. The family owned a house called Windemere on Michigan's Walloon Lake and often spent summers vacationing there. These early experiences in close contact with nature would instill in Hemingway a lifelong passion for outdoor adventure and for living in remote or isolated areas. Ernest Hemingway attended Oak Park and River Forest High School from September, 1913 until graduation in June of 1917. He excelled both academically and athletically; he boxed, played football, and displayed particular talent in English classes. His first writing experience was writing for "Trapeze" and "Tabula" (the school's newspaper and original literary magazine, respectively) in his junior year, then serving as editor in his senior year. After high school, Hemingway did not want to go to college. Instead, at age eighteen, he began his writing career as a cub reporter for The Kansas City Star (1917). Although he worked at the newspaper for only six months (October 17, 1917-April 30, 1918), throughout his lifetime he used the guidance from the Star's style guide as a foundation for his writing style: "Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English. Be positive, not negative."[3] In 1999, the centennial year of Hemingway's birth, The Star named Hemingway its top reporter of the last hundred years. Some readers felt that this was more an honorary award than one actually earned on merit by the then young and short-term reporter. World War I

mmmmmm.... Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs Buttplugs

Not that simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812248)

Isn't the problem that Microsoft try and repress driver development for other operating systems?

Dedicated (5, Insightful)

pzs (857406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812250)

Whatever you might say about the Linux community - that it is elitist or sanctimonious or whatever - it is impossible to ignore their commitment to what they believe in. That somebody would be willing to write device drivers for nothing, apparently just to forward the cause of a free operating system, is pretty impressive. Microsoft and Apple can match this devotion only in the ferocity with which they defend their control over their customers, in anti-trust trials and by imposing DRM.


Re:Dedicated (-1, Flamebait)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812714)

You wanna know why some consider Linux evangelists to be elitist or sanctimonious? Its because of statements like this, Microsoft and Apple can match this devotion only in the ferocity with which they defend their control over their customers, in anti-trust trials and by imposing DRM.

Thanks for telling me that, I was an Apple user because I liked their products, but you Mr. Linux user have show me that I was just a dumb slave! Seriously, putting words into peoples mouths and basically calling anyone that doesn't use linux a "dumb slave"(while maybe not in those words, the insinuation is there) is why I don't like Linux fanboys. I use linux at work, but don't really consider ideology alone when making that decision. Maybe one day you will realize that your definition of freedom isn' the only definition.

Quick Scan (4, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812256)

A really quick scan [] of the price of windows driver development, demonstrates how much actual value this is for business. Now all you would need to do is pay someone to extend the drivers to other platforms! Eureka!

Re:Quick Scan (1)

znx (847738) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812346)

The beginning of something really big with only one IF attached to it. If the businesses are interested! Awesome idea though.

NDAs == wasted effort (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812456)

Not if Linux devs will be signing NDAs. They'll have the info, they'll code up something for linux which works, but everyone else who develops a Free/Open OS will have to fight the battle all over again -- if not be told "Why not use linux? we helped with drivers for THAT!"

Example of extending to other platform (4, Informative)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812890)

As an example of extending to other platforms, we may cite the 3DFx Voodoo board.

After the company collapsed, users were left with no drivers for recent windows version (XP, XP64 and Vista).
But, the Linux drivers happened to be open source.

So most of the work you may see on websites like [] for Windows, is mostly based on libglide and Mesa3d for linux.
(This is also another proof that open-source enable something to survive beyond the death of it's parent company)

Another example may be the linux USB stack, which was later ported to both the Cromwell xbox bios and ReactOS (opensource clone of the Windows NT system, cousin of Wine project).

This is needed (4, Insightful)

camcorder (759720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812264)

I think this kind of action, and offer for help is needed by companies. I hope it will be touted enough. What I know is that, companies having really hard times finding skilled coders for developing Linux drivers. Most of them does not care about the specifications, as they have already patents pending for their works, but they can't actually find people to code for Linux and/or they don't willing to pay more than Windows developers for Linux developers for a smaller market.

Re:This is needed (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812966)

``Most of them does not care about the specifications, as they have already patents pending for their works, but they can't actually find people to code for Linux and/or they don't willing to pay more than Windows developers for Linux developers for a smaller market.''

Then why is it that so many of them won't release specs when asked? It's not like this initiative here is anything new; the Linux community has been asking companies for specs needed to develop drivers for years. Instead, I see companies developing Linux drivers in house, often resulting in crappy, poorly-documented, and usually closed-source drivers. And that's if they develop drivers at all (but, of course, companies I buy hardware from do).

The reason for this can't be that companies can't find people to write drivers. After all, the community writes drivers. These same people could write drivers for these companies. The only reason I can see is that companies and would-be driver writers can't agree on the terms (e.g. company wants everything kept secret, developer wants everything open).

Wonderful (5, Interesting)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812268)

What an outstanding idea! I especially like this (from TFA):

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.
This is intelligent, it means they're covering their backs, and even more importantly the manufacturers haven't got an excuse!

Is this realistic though? Are companies actually going to take this offer up? If they do, the impact could be awesome (hardware compatibility that could rival Windows and/or Mac OSX)...

Nice one!

Re:Wonderful (4, Insightful)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812360)

(hardware compatibility that could rival Windows and/or Mac OSX)
Hmmm? Linux already supports more hardware out of the box than Windows does. I'm not talking ancient SCSI cards either; I mean components like an onboard Intel PRO 10/100 NIC from a few years ago that requires an extra driver on XP SP2, but works automagically with e100 on Linux. The only segment where Linux falls down is on very new hardware.

Re:Wonderful (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812432)

Whilst a LOT of hardware now works on GNU/Linux, it is not 100%. There are quite a few wireless devices (but thanks to Distros like Ubuntu are no longer a problem) that don't work. There needs to be a more consistent results with *new* hardware and Linux, and I believe this announcement can help that.

Re:Wonderful (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812376)

in some ways it would be a curse too. Because some hw manufacturers cant write a driver worth a damn.

Hell, all my hardware actually works better in linux than in windows. my mp3 player doesnt run quite right in XP, not all of my motherboard's devices run smoothly, my tv card doesnt run in XP (my fault because it's a media center edition only card, though this doesnt affect it in linux whatsoever :) )

My atheros card runs flawlessly using the original reverse engineered madwifi drivers, the new code from atheros seems to hate my card and doesnt let it connect or do anything, my range is also (artificially) limited by the new drivers, where the AP has to be in the next room to even pick up.

In some cases, free open drivers that have been hacked tend to really make use of the hardware as opposed to manufacturer soft limitations.

Re:Wonderful (4, Insightful)

keean (824435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812426)

Except Linux has supported _more_ devices than any version of Microsoft-windows for some time now. Okay so most of those drivers are for older hardware that is no longer supported by new versions of Microsoft-windows... but that doesn't change the facts. You need to qualify your statement, and say what you mean. I guess something like "Microsoft Windows gets support for some new devices more quickly than Linux"... thats about it. I am not even sure there is any truth to OSX supporting more of anything than Linux, Apple-mac hardware is all the same after all.

Infact Linux supports more devices that any other operating system ever... and thats one of the advantages of open-source kernel drivers... they are maintained with the Kernel, so they remain usable through kernel architecture changes with zero effort from the original contributer of the device-driver. I am sure Microsoft would love to do this with windows, but of course they cannot, as they don't have the source code to the drivers they did not write themselves.

Re:Wonderful (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812462)

Please see my reply to the first reply to my original post (bleh that came out wrong) - here []

My post was referring to *new* hardware, and I have clarified that in the linked comment.

Re:Wonderful (4, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812674)

No-one seems to have commented on the fact that if NDA requirements are met the drivers cannot be open source. This doesn't mean fewer binary blobs, it means more.

And what about Vista's new requirement that all hardware mustn't be compromised by hackers or else the drivers will be remotely disabled? Might a company which produced hardware which is part of the DRM stack risk being more likely to be seen as compromised if it has collaborated with the OSS community?

Regarding NDA compliance (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812748)

It kind of depends on what the NDA is protecting. A company lawyer isn't going to approve a new course because there's no benefit (there's a Dilbert cartoon on the subject). So they will be conservative in their reading of an NDA.

The lawyers reading for the Linux Kernel have a reason to read and understand (or even find workarounds for the legalese cf Novell/MS). It also sends the liability out to these lawyers rather than keep it the companies fault.

So they may find that the NDA still applies but that what NEEDS to be done to get a driver isn't actually forbidden.

Re:Wonderful (4, Informative)

Delkster (820935) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812860)

No-one seems to have commented on the fact that if NDA requirements are met the drivers cannot be open source. This doesn't mean fewer binary blobs, it means more.
I'm far from being an expert but I've got the impression that for example the open source 3D accelerating drivers for ATI's R200 series were written under an NDA. It really depends on the NDA. The specs can reveal things that aren't immediately apparent from the code, and the NDA may be written to protect those parts. While some companies would probably require NDAs that would effectively prevent an open source driver from being written, it doesn't automatically have to be so.

Great news (1)

z-man (103297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812318)

This is obviously great news for companies willing to have an open source driver, but not willing to pay for its development or to release specifications. Sadly, I don't think this will help certain companies, like NVidia and ATI, whos drivers contain third-party proprietary pieces, which they don't want out in the open, or?

Of course, any initiative that may result in more well written drivers for Linux is a great and welcomed one!

Re:Great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812808)

>Sadly, I don't think this will help certain companies, like NVidia and ATI, whos drivers contain third-party proprietary pieces, which they don't want out in the open, or?

They dont want the driver, they only want the Dokumentation of the Hardware-Interfaces.

WHAT third party? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812970)

Fanboys (and I buy NVidia kit) keep saying this but never WHOSE IP where and why. Not since SGI were touted by NVidia and then SGI, on being asked, said definitively "there is nothing we license NVidia that cannot be open sourced".

Good next step (0, Redundant)

lemmen (48986) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812320)

This is a very good next step for Linux. Being open-source is a good thing already, but now Linux can evolve further. A lot of manufacturers are not able to write code for Linux because it consumes a lot of time or it is considered not a market where their core business lies. Now they can easily create drivers so a bigger market is drilled.

Standard Driver Model? (4, Interesting)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812330)

I have never written drivers so I may be way out in left field here, but how close are we to being able to specify a standard driver model, with compatibility across operating systems? It seems to me that drivers are one of the biggest impediments to OS adoption. They are also a huge cost center for device manufacturers. Imagine if 99.9% of the driver code could be the same across platforms. Is this even remotely possible? Or perhaps the Linux Kernel driver developers could figure out a way to adapt Windows drivers to run, perhaps in an interpreted or emulated fashion, on Linux (ala Virtual PC). Just a thought.

Re:Standard Driver Model? (2, Interesting)

antdah (1057288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812394)

Do you mean something like this? [] It's been around for some time now, however, I haven't been able to try it out yet since I primarily run Mac OS X.

Re:Standard Driver Model? (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812480)

Interesting. Thanks for the pointer. Yes, that is a start, though it is only for wireless network cards. But the approach seems reasonable as it basically allows a Linux system to run Windows drivers natively. Of course this would need to be extended to the other hardware subsystems (graphics, sound, memory controllers, disk controllers, etc). I would think that might be a better way for the kernel driver guys to go than volunteering to write custom drivers for each unique piece of hardware.

Re:Standard Driver Model? (3, Insightful)

MooUK (905450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812728)

There are huge advantages to going the driver route rather than wrappers for windows drivers. For a start, the community can update any open drivers, whereas they cannot touch closed windows drivers. There are many to whom open drivers over closed ones is a big deal.

Re:Standard Driver Model? (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812812)

As is so often the case, your strengths are your weaknesses. Having the ability to update open drivers (a strength) means that you first must *create* open drivers (a weakness). I might also offer the alternative viewpoint that if native Windows drivers were used, when the device manufacturer fixes defects or adds features to the driver, the wrapper-based implementations automatically get those improvements without having to do anything.

Re:Standard Driver Model? (1)

brycenut (456384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812498)

First - let me say I don't write drivers either, and can't answer the first part.

>Or perhaps the Linux Kernel driver developers could figure out a way to adapt Windows drivers to run, perhaps in an >interpreted or emulated fashion, on Linux (ala Virtual PC). Just a thought.

This is done to some extent by ndiswrapper, which uses windows drivers and an "emulation" layer for wireless cards, also by the captive ntfs project to allow writes to NTFS filesystems. These are sometimes criticized as being a crutch, or wrong for Linux development. They are also sometimes criticized as being slow (captive) and not exposing all features (ndiswrapper vs. kismet, for example). Personally, I'm of the opinion that they're a good thing, and may drive adoption and/or just make life easier, but native Linux drivers in-kernel is even better, and easier, too!

Glad to see this announcement!

Re:Standard Driver Model? (4, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812542)

You've just invented OpenFirmware [] .

The only small problem is that it requires slightly more intelligence (and some flash memory) in the individual device - something which manufacturers have spent the last 20 years doing their best to avoid.

Re:Standard Driver Model? (3, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812858)

Well, there's paravirtualization. The drivers go in the hypervisor, which then provides a simplified and unified interface to guest OSes. The guest OSes still have to implement drivers for the exokernel, but there are a lot fewer of those than there are, say, Ethernet cards.

Re:Standard Driver Model? (2, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812892)

Or how about standardizing hardware interfaces? I've been saying this for years, and usually people have told me it's an unrealistic expectation, but it happens in some places. For example, USB devices often comply to some USB device class, for which there is one driver that can drive all compliant devices.

Re:Standard Driver Model? (2, Insightful)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812950)

how close are we to being able to specify a standard driver model, with compatibility across operating systems?

Sorry if I sound pedantic, but we are already "able" to specify a standard driver model. I can specify one right now: the Linux driver model. It's pretty well-documented; just check out "Linux Kernel In a Nutshell" or "Linux Device Drivers" or the Linux kernel source.

Specifying one is not a problem. It's getting OS developers to adopt it that's a problem. Microsoft obviously isn't going to adopt Linux' driver model since they have so much invested in their own. Linux can't adopt Microsoft's because it's proprietary. Most of the reasons are political.

But there are also technical reasons. With a common driver model, you would force every OS to adopt a layer of abstraction or API which they might not want to have. Every layer of API inserted into a system adds overhead and degrades performance. No other OS would have a chance of kicking the ass of any other OS, performance-wise. In fact the performance advantage would go to the OS which the standard was most closely based on. Therefore, no OS wants to adopt any other OS' native model - they would only do a worse job of it by comparison.

How's this different than OpenBSD? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812340)

Is this any different from what Theo De Raadt (from OpenBSD) and others were implying? The only exception being that they believe in 'True, Open Source Software & Documentation' without license or other restrictions, and no accepting ridiculous NDA's for just 'documentation' - hence the BSD license and OpenBSD's goal(s). In the end, Linux will be half OSS half NOT, with NDA's up the wazzo and a huge mess. I used both for now, but personally, I'll stick with OSS as it was originally meant to be. Even Linus Torvalds is losing control of his original ideology too.

linux compatible devices will sell better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812372)

linux numbers are on the rise. secrecy about hardware specs is a sad footnote in computer history. closed source software and closed specifications are on the way out, thou closed source may be with us until an open source replacement is contributed. when I was considering purchasing my next computer I choose a linux vendor who sold me my computer's hardware that has 100% gpl driver support; the same holds true for any devices I may choose to purchase. It's either in the kernel source, or i'm not buying.

Nothing new? (3, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812374)

Other than the public announcement, how is this any different from the way things already work?

The community already writes free drivers for vendors who provide specs and (even better in some cases) loan some hardware.

There are already situations where Linux devs have been able to work out NDA-acceptable solutions.

Really, all the announcement is saying is, "Look, we do this. We've been doing this for years. Just letting you know how things work over here."

Re:Nothing new? (1)

ardin,mcallister (924615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812572)

Alot of people who work at hardware companies browse slashdot. They might see this, talk to their boss (and their bosses boss, and so on), and bam, one more driver. It's just getting them more exposure. Also, if I'm not mistaken, the ones offering this service, are more organized than just the standard 'linux dev' community.

This is definitley new (4, Insightful)

flithm (756019) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812582)

Other than the public announcement, how is this any different from the way things already work?

Actually this really is something new, and quite an announcement. It was never the case before that any old random driver would get created by the open source community. The way OSS development generally works is there has to be a strong need, strong backing, or a high fun factor, for things to get done.

Prior to this announcement it's not like there was a group of people dedicated to writing drivers -- just waiting for companies to release new hardware, then they'd scurry to reverse engineer it and write a driver. Nor do companies (generally) release hardware specs in the hopes that others will provide a driver for their product.

A significant portion of initial open source driver development comes from the device manufacturers themselves, and smaller companies without the resources to spearhead these developments simply don't have the ability to have Linux support.

Your conception that "The community already writes free drivers for vendors who provide specs and loan some hardware" isn't true in the vast majority of cases.

This really is a big change, because now anyone can create a hardware device and actually have formal linux support, and have this printed on the box. This creates a formal avenue for companies to easily, reliably, and cheaply have Linux support for their products.

Re:Nothing new? (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812742)

Tomorrow on Slashdot, a similar offer to the RIAA, to iTunes, to Zune, and to all of the online music retailers of FREE services to help convert their music files to MP3 format.


Driver Petitions (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812380)

i think it would be a really great thing if the linux community got together a site to petition hardware manufacturers to allow drivers to be developed for their products.

if i have a device that isn't supported by linux yet and i want the company that made it to let linux devs in on the hardware specs, my emails/calls won't mean SHIT to them. if there are several hundred signatures behind a petition for them to let people develop linux drivers for their product, on the other hand, maybe they'll take it more seriously.

genious!!! (1)

ohsmeguk (1048214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812386)

This is such a quality idea! I don't see how this could not benefit everybody. Manufacturers don't have to worry about writing drivers, and us linux users get better device support, eureka!

Move along... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812422)

So? Nothing new... That's the point of open source - give out source code publicly, and someone will extend on it. Give out hardware documentation publicly, and someone will write a driver for linux, BSD, or any free operating system that the geek with the hardware in say is running. There always were many people willing to write the drivers, but impeded by the lack of documentation. I don't see any news here.

But how do they implement that NDA? (1, Redundant)

elteck (874753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812424)

It's open source, so the driver code would be visible to everyone. So how
do they keep their NDA? I think that will determine if this will become
a succes.

Will they be binary drivers? Or can gcc compile scrambled code?
Any ideas?

The way they always have. (1)

Benanov (583592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812626)

There are certain drivers out there in the Free world that were developed under NDAs. XFree86 (maybe XOrg too) have obfuscated source files due to NVidia requiring it. The ATi Rage 128 driver (remember the Linux native support?) basically loads a big blob of firmware code.

Sure it's in the source file, but it's not its preferred form for editing, unless everyone at ATi is a masochist.

Re:But how do they implement that NDA? (1)

Bostik (92589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812822)

I believe there is already a precedent. See SATA driver information for nvidia's SATA/NCQ support. [] The trick here seems to be that the developers accept an NDA and in return get access to specifications. Any implementation written from those specs will be unencumbered, but the full contents of the specifications are not.

My guess: the specs for most chipsets are monolithic and contain all kinds of stuff, not just certain subsystems.

How will the NDA work ? (5, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812444)

The Kernel code will be publically visible, so how is ''confidentiality'' maintained ? The only ways that I can think that this will be done are:
  1. Uncommented Kernel code - Yuck!
  2. Spaghetti/obscured Kernel code - Yuck!
  3. Binary blobs in the Kernel - Yuck!

Re:How will the NDA work ? (4, Interesting)

simm1701 (835424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812564)

Ranked in order of preference:

a) no driver for your hardware
b) binary blob kernel patch created by hardware munfacturuers
c) binary blob in kernel tree created under NDA by the kernel team (who have private access to the source)
d) obfuscated code in the kernel tree (with original kept private to those kernel devs that have signed the NDA)
e) uncommented code in the kernel tree (with commented code kept private to those kernel devs that have signed the NDA)
f) fully open source driver

Personally I'll accept anything b or above - I'd prefer d or above, would settles for c but would really like f!!

I wonder where the compromises will be made? How far will kernel devs go? How far will companies go?

Re:How will the NDA work ? (4, Informative)

MartinG (52587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812814)

b) binary blob kernel patch created by hardware munfacturuers

Widely believed to be a license violation.

c) binary blob in kernel tree created under NDA by the kernel team (who have private access to the source)

Almost certainly a license violation. (Can't be distributed with the portions of the kernel written by others who have released their code as GPL)

d) obfuscated code in the kernel tree (with original kept private to those kernel devs that have signed the NDA)

Probably a license violation (google for "gpl perferred form obfuscate")

e) uncommented code in the kernel tree (with commented code kept private to those kernel devs that have signed the NDA)

Dubious to keep commented version seperate for the same "preferred form" reason as above.


Re:How will the NDA work ? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812826)

I agree with your ranking, as long as you _know_ which one you're getting. I check for Linux compatibility before buying (most) hardware, but that doesn't tell the whole story. There is a legitimate fear of anything besides truly open source drivers. Anything less and not only is there a good chance it will break when new versions of the kernel are released, but also you're running code _in kernel mode_ that few, if any, people have audited for security and other problems. I prefer not having the device (or not having it work) over a driver that trashes my system.

Re:How will the NDA work ? (1)

undertow3886 (605537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812628)

Binary blobs with an open-source shim. People get a bad taste in their mouth because of difficulties getting nvidia or ati (specifically ati) binary drivers to work. However, I think that if the binary drivers were prepared by someone who actually knows what he's doing (say, a Linux kernel dev) instead of a corporation that treats Linux users like second-class customers (and who in all fairness wants to focus on the hardware), users would have a lot easier time getting them to work.

Linux devs could also insist on a no-BS distribution agreement that allows them to ship the binary driver with distros without the hassles you see with proprietary drivers today, if not the kernel itself somehow (not sure of the policy on binary stuff in the kernel). I know the old pwc driver was like this; it was removed I think mostly for political reasons, you can see for yourself: []

Re:How will the NDA work ? (1)

Proteus Child (535173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812644)

1) Code can be figured out, comments can be written. A PITA, to be sure, but certainly not impossible.
2) This also sucks, but again spaghetti code can be figured out and rewritten in a straightforward fashion.
3) Uh-oh. This is a real problem. Time to brush up on reverse engineering.

The way things usually go, option number 3 is probably what will result - it means more time and effort required to figure out how it works, and that's not necessarily something many people are willing to do.

Re:How will the NDA work ? (1)

bigmouth_strikes (224629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812738)

One has to assume that the confidentiality pertains to the proprietary code interacting with the driver, not the driver code itself.

Re:How will the NDA work ? (2, Interesting)

gatzke (2977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812788)

I think there are cases where there may be a lot of extra functionality in some hardware (for testing or legal versions). Maybe it can operate in bands limited by the FCC, but should not for legal reasons. The detailed docs covered by NDA may detail this, and there is no reason to put all the details in the open source driver to get something working.

This way, you get your working open source driver, but you don't need all the details of the hardware (which may include a lot of IP for the hardware maker).

I have had trouble with a PVR-500 card in linux support. They changed hardware, but did not release full specs so the linux driver is lagging. People with access to the specs don't seem to care about making the driver work properly, so we are screwed. People with access to the specs are probably under NDA and can't release info.

"automatically included in all Linux distributions (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812824)

The announcement claims that the driver will be "automatically included in all Linux distributions". There is no way that is going to happen if the driver is binary, or even if it is obfuscated.

So I can't see how they can support NDA.

Re:How will the NDA work ? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812852)

A way I can think of is to create partial source drivers. What I mean by that is to code up to the trade secrets and then leave those secrets in their binary form. It would still be more open that what we have today but I can see the argument against this idea since the Kernel devs would be working on drivers that are not completely open source.

Mr Nice Guy (1)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812454)

could this be a "Mr Nice Guy" aproach to getting in to companys hardware specs, to point out all the holes and flaws within the current driver sets for all os's and the hardware its self?

Maybe now (0, Troll)

matt328 (916281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812464)

I'll be able to get my damn sound card to work in Linux.

Nice offer, but there's still the rub ... (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812508)

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

That's all they have to do now, basically - any modestly popular piece of hardware will probably get a driver if specs are available. But that's the same big "if" that has always been a problem.

Well (0, Troll)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812530)

Unfortunatly (?) driver support is the leat of the problems the Linuzzzz community has to face. Solving this may be a little step forward, but don't expect miracles.

Epic? (1)

TheDoctorWho (858166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812554)

I guess this would be epic, for little Linux. But who really cares, Linux is simply a version of Unix, which few PC users use as it is. Once again, the general public could give two shits about Linux and life will carry on pretty much as is. What's Linux anyway? Exactly.

I sense a disturbance... (0)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812598)

as if millions of chairs just went through windows at some big software company, and then were suddenly silenced.

A similar offer (2, Informative)

mogrify (828588) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812602)

The folks at Xiph have had a similar offer [] for a few years:

We've got a fixed-point implementation of the Ogg Vorbis 1.0 decoder, called Tremor. As of this evening, Tremor is licensed under a BSD-style license, is free for all use, and you can download it right here [] . If you need help implementing Vorbis support into your hardware player, we will give you any resources at our disposal to make it happen (including engineer time). If you want Vorbis in your player (like your potential customers do), we want to help you.

I don't know if anyone ever took them up on it. Ogg support in portable hardware has come a long way since then. I used to come back to this page every couple of weeks to see if anything had changed. Now a lot of players have it... I hope this takes off.

Re:A similar offer (1)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812794)

iriver took them (ogg group) up on the offer and provided them some prototype players to use for testing and development. I own a T10 1GB flash based MP3/ogg player because they took the time to both seriously reach out to the OS community and then incorporate the efforts. They also listened to their user community and now offer a supported method for switching some of their players between MTP (ms transfer protocol WMP10) and standard usb flash drive modes. No more hoops to jump through for linux based transfers and I can easily switch back to the default DRM'd mode... *cough*

But, to be more on topic, I'm excited to see an outreach program from the OSS community with what seems to be a very professionally presented plan. If some companies were interested in expanding their market into the Linux/*BSD domain and had no clue about how to proceed, they now have some guidance and a reasonable path to explore.

Shout out to Kodak! (1)

adaminnj (712407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812684)

If anybody from Kodak is reading this I have wanted to see a driver for the DVC 325 camera under Linux for the last 7 years.

Is anybody Listening?

Now you have a free developer.

Homework (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812688)

How long till a EE undergrad sends them a breadboard project and tells them "U write me da driver, u promise!"

Driver Management (4, Interesting)

jone1941 (516270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812690)

The arguments about out of the box driver support for linux happen all the time. The reality is that the issue is not out of the box support. I often have more functionality out of the box with a modern linux distro than windows on the same hardware but that only gets me so far. The biggest hurdle is supporting less common hardware. Adding driver support in the kernel is great, but there is no way they can keep pace with the release of new obscure hardware. We need a way to support less common hardware without constantly trying to bundle drivers into the kernel. Also the kernel developers are not always willing to merge 3rd party code into the kernel if it isn't to their standards or is perhaps not 100% complete. I completely understand this process, but it doesn't help people who have to search out these drivers and try to compile them from source.

The best example I have is my webcam. I know that when I purchased it it would have linux support because i did my research, but I still had to know how to do the research, how to track down the right driver and then how to build it from source. What we need is a driver manager that operates similarly to or in conjunction with our package managers. If during install or after a first boot I was told that a driver for my webcam was not installed as part of the distro it could then either download a driver package if one is available or it could at least suggest a link to download a driver not yet being packaged for my distro. Having to check my dmesg to see if my webcam shows up as a generic USB device or if a driver has been assigned to it is a terrible solution, we need a more friendly means of checking a supported devices database and better way to get access to the drivers that support our less common hardware. This is especially important for people who don't hand pick their hardware and are less familiar with exact model numbers or sometimes know even less.

This system that manages drivers might also do well to phone home to the distro maintainer when possible to catalog all of the hardware that is not being supported by a driver. That way we can at least get a better idea of where the biggest holes in device support are.

Good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17812744)

A big reason these drivers have not existed to date is because Microsoft has strong armed these companies into not offering them. This will only get worse. Make sure you also maintain a list of companies that refuse this offer. That will be just as important as the list of those that do.

NDA, or crippled hardware? (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812760)

I thought the purpose of the NDA was to stop people from figuring out how the hardware works.. how will they do that if I can see the source of the driver?

I assume that the reason why most companies won't do open source drivers is because they want to cripple the hardware from the driver, to speculate or do stuff like DRM and things like that..

Creative Labs drivers (1)

NXprime (573188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812800)

Great, would Creative Labs be will to go along with this or not? That or other onboard chipset manufacturers so they are up to date with the latest products out there?

Who is he speaking for? (2, Interesting)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17812864)

Who is he speaking for? The whole Linux kernel community? I didn't think it worked that way. Even Linus is as much a cat herder as a boss, once you get beyond a few core people. The population of kernel developers who can be ordered (the difference between "might get a driver" and "will get a driver") to write drivers for obscure hardware they have no interest in must surely be fairly small. Who's actually in on this? Are there a few hundred kernel devs who've agreed to work on whatever they are assigned? I'm worried that this will backfire when they can't actually find anybody who wants to write the driver for a engraving machine that sells 400 units per year and has a particularly baroque interface. I don't expect there will be a problem for WiFi, TV or video cards, but there's a whole lot of hardware out there and not all of it is interesting.

Those are some pretty big promises he's making. I'm wondering what's there to back them up.

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