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Novell Makes Linux Driver Project a Reality

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the giving-back dept.

Novell 200

apokryphos writes "Novell have relaunched the Linux Driver Project by dedicating well-known kernel developer Greg KH to work on the project full-time. Greg KH writes: 'My employer, Novell, has modified my position to now allow me to work full time on this project. Namely getting more new Linux kernel drivers written, for free, for any company that so desires. And to help manage all of the developers and project managers who want to help out...They really care about helping make Linux support as many devices as possible, with fully open-source drivers.'"

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Just great... (-1, Troll)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779375)

Why do I have a feeling this might be like the r200 thing w/ ATI all over again?

Re:Just great... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779577)

Because you're an idiot posting a pathetic content-free post in a lame attempt to get First Post, as if anyone cares?

r200/ati (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779685)

I'm not sure exactly what this references, but if it's anything like my experience (hp laptop with mobile chipset based on R200) it was the sinking reality that - if ATI windows drivers were bad - ATI linux drivers were *really* bad.

However, there's been a fairly noticeable improvement in ATI drivers since the AMD merger, which might coincide nicely with the fact that I noticed AMD posting linux-development jobs when I was checking various job boards. Overally, the trinity isn't bad. Intel is good at providing specs and getting nice drivers out there (and card performance is doing better in the i9xx series), NVidia has generally been decent for drivers, and ATI is not too bad either now. You can grouse that they're not open-source, and yes in some cases buggy, but over time I've seen a lot of improvement in this area.

Re:r200/ati (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779773)

If I had to guess, it references the "open source" R200 drivers developed from hardware specs released under a non-disclosure agreement from ATI. The source code was there, but damned if anyone knew what certain parts actually did aside from those sworn to secrecy about it.

not the case (5, Informative)

free space (13714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780481)

If that is indeed what worries the original poster then he can res assured, from the project's FAQ:

Q: How are you going to write a GPL driver by signing an NDA? Is it going to require a binary blob or some other way of obfuscating the code?

A: No, not at all. I have written many drivers after signing NDAs with companies. They are usually signed either to keep information about the device private until it is announced at a specific date, or to just keep the actual specification documents from being released to the public directly. All code created by this NDA program is to be released under the GPL for inclusion in the main kernel tree, nothing will be obfuscated at all.


Re:Just great... (1)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780475)

I think a tear a joy just dripped off of my face!

Cool (3, Informative)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779377)

I'm not sure how much just one developer can do, but props to Novell nonetheless.

Re:Cool (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779389)

Don't forget it's Micro$oft Novell these days. Be wary of anything that comes from them...

Re:Cool (3, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779507)

Quit the FUDing. There is nothing and never has been anything remotely suggesting that Novell was out to hurt linux or F/OSS itself.

The entire microsoft patent thing was blown out or portion by both microsoft and the FSF. MS did it to ruffly some feathers and attempt to control large companies not wanting to install the unpopular and somewhat failing Vista OS and the FSF did their part in helping microsoft scare people away from Free and open source product in order to push an unpopular GPL license onto the masses. Novell was caught up in the middle of a time when it should have been ripe for everyone to use Linux instead of the new MS Vista OS but instead, self serving asses made a demon out of Novell and scared away most chances of picking up converts who though the switch and massive retraining efforts to switch to Vista might be better served with going to something free and open. Your trolling does nothing for anyone who has been paying attention.

Re:Cool (3, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779647)

Novell effectively admitted fault that the entire Linux community had infringed on patents, and if you hadn't signed a deal, you could be in trouble. I'd argue that severely hurt Linux and the F/OSS community.

However one action does not fully define a company. Novell has done a great deal to support Linux, but there is no taking away the patent fiasco.

Re:Cool (5, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779823)

Novell done nothing of the sort. They disclaimed any knowledge of patent problems with linux and done so to the point that microsoft had to issue a statement that they disagree with Novells position.

The entire patent protect was for the stuff Novell created that used MS stuff in order to make linux and windows work together. That was the stated goals and reasons from day one. MS offered to cover Novells customers for everything and they didn't turn it down.

I firmly believe that everyone throwing a fit about their partnership knew this to be the case. It is just that there was this license that people didn't like being tossed around and they needed to get support for it. And that is why they came out on several occasions claiming the New GPL version 3 license would stop Novell's deal with Microsoft when there was nothing in the text at the time indicating it would. The entire FUD campaign surrounding that was cooked up to get support for the GPLv3 it seems.

However, even if we disagree on this, I commend you on your second statement about one action doesn't define a company. I'm not a big Novell Fan or anything. I just hate to see the injustice surrounding the entire situation. Novell got a raw deal in what couldn't be anything but self serving for MS and the FSF. In almost anything else I can remember Novell being associated with Linux and free software on, they brought value to the table in more ways then one. Novell has been a big benefit to the Linux community if for nothing else, their stand against SCO when they could have turned a blind eye and let IBM take it all the way. That doesn't seem like someone wanting to hurt Linux or Free software. This move to rekindle the driver program seems contrary to any wishes to hurt linux or F/OSS too.

I'm wandering if having a big name company like Novell behind the push would make hardware manufacturers a little more comfortable about sharing the stuff necessary to make this happen. If I remember correctly, they didn't have that "big name" support the first time around.

Re:Cool (5, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779991)

Novell's seen ther linux income grow to $250 million the last quarter, and that includes $100 million of licensing directly from the MS deal.

As you point out, they're spending countless millions in the SCO case, and it looks like "the money's all gone" in the $25 - $30 million they owe SCO. They also put out a decent linux (hey, it configures all 3 video cards in my box first time around, I'm impressed) and they contribute heavily to linux development.

Then I look at the people slagging them - they all have agendas. FSF wrt the GPLv3, (esp. when actual cases prove that the GPLv2 isn't broken), and the buy-in to MS fud from the community at large. Its a wonder they don't just pull an Apple and say "with friends like this, f*** it - lets grab a copy of BSD and put our efforts into that instead."

Its the same with SUN - "SUN is eviiil" - even though we really like the free stuff like OpenOffice (Sun paid $50 million for StarOffice, then released the code) and Java.

Re:Cool (2, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780019)

oops - typo - they're owed by SCO ... $25 million, plus interest ...

Re:Cool (0, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779947)

> "Novell effectively admitted fault that the entire Linux community had infringed on patents, and if you hadn't signed a deal, you could be in trouble. I'd argue that severely hurt Linux and the F/OSS community."

Quit the bullshit - they publicly repudiated the patent crap Microsoft was saying immediately after the Balminator said it.

What REALLY hurts the Linux and F/OSS community is people who continue to spread the lies - look in a mirror.

Its the same with everyone who is in such a rush to push the GPLv3, when GPLv2 isn't broken.

No, I don't have any connection to Novell, except that I've been using openSuse for a while, and like it a hell of a lot better than Ubuntu. Dumbing down linux the way Ubuntu does it is ... well, dumb.

Re:Cool (0, Troll)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780079)

What bullshit?

If they didn't think they had violated Microsoft patents, then why pay to license them? Why sign a deal that includes a "no-sue" clause?

I don't see what the GPLv3 has to do with the current discussion, and I'm not pushing GPLv3. I'm saying that Novell set a legal precedent that could really hurt the Linux community, and if nothing else they enabled FUD. Microsoft can go to major corporations and say "Novell licensed our patents, and if you use Linux, you could be sued, unless you use SUSE Linux, and buy it from us."

Re:Cool (0, Flamebait)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780179)

Grow the fuck up. They did NOT pay for any patents in linux. Name ONE patent. Just ONE. Oh, you can't. Neither can Microsoft. So stop with the FUD.

Microsoft can say anything they want - doesn't make it true. Microsoft lies. All the time.

Just grow the fuck up, okay? Stop believing that Microsoft tells the truth. Your naivety is sickening.

Re:Cool (3, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780235)

Stop trolling, and educate yourself.

http://www.novell.com/linux/microsoft/faq.html [novell.com]

"Under the patent agreement, both companies will make up-front payments in exchange for a release from any potential liability for use of each others patented intellectual property, with a net balancing payment from Microsoft to Novell reflecting the larger applicable volume of Microsoft's product shipments. Novell will also make running royalty payments based on a percentage of its revenues from open source products."

Novell is paying for being liable for using Microsoft patents, and will also make running royalty payments. If no one violated these patents, then why pay for protection?

It sets a legal precedent that apparently you weren't aware of. Google can help you out with that. So stop the personal attacks and shouting, and please read up on the issue.

Re:Cool (5, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780283)

potential liability
Call the bluff.
Your question is akin to asking "why buy insurance?".
Neither company has perfect information, and they can make a lot of money out of acting as if there were significant risk, and then doing all of this legal ballet to mitigate the risk.
It's a belief system. And if your faith is insufficient to make the subjective leap, quaff the kool aid, take the magic pill, then you can join the rest of us in the crowd that find the whole thing just a tad bit whiffy.

why pay for protection?
It's either a marketing campaign or a cookbook, my friend.

Please, someone rush a clue to Enderandrew (2, Insightful)

kaiwai (765866) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780265)

Novell effectively admitted fault that the entire Linux community had infringed on patents, and if you hadn't signed a deal, you could be in trouble. I'd argue that severely hurt Linux and the F/OSS community.

However one action does not fully define a company. Novell has done a great deal to support Linux, but there is no taking away the patent fiasco.

Pardon? you do realise that EVERYONE infringes on EVERYONE elses patents. Almost every damn thing immaginable has been patented. Hell, I'd be surprised if this very post code hasn't been patented by some twit running a nameless patent harvesting company in some hick state.

Simply signing a patent agreement with Microsoft is no more an admission on Novells part than on Microsofts part regarding who is infridging what - and shock bloody horror, it might mean a working silverlight implementation on *NIX.

If you hate Silverlight - whats the alternative? the Linux hating outfit called Adobe who refuses to give Linux desktop the time of day - both in their crap support for Flash, their refusal to either work with wine to improve product support or port their applications to *NIX. The only thing left is JavaFX which is highly unlikely to take off given Sun's rank reputation for producing cruddy IDE's that make developing for their platform as painful as being kicked in the balls with steel cap boots.

Re:Cool (5, Interesting)

pablochacin (1061488) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779853)

I agree entirely. I think that most of the people in the FOS community completely misunderstood the deal (an some purposefully trolled this misunderstanding)

I worked for Novell until late 2004, well before the Microsoft patent issue. Novell's main business areas then and now are not SUSE incenses, but solutions for platform management and identity management. Both areas require a strong interoperability with Microsoft products, as most big companies have and will continue to have mixed environments. That's is the core of the deal: make possible a better integration between linux and Microsoft product. Just see the recent annoucement about a join laboratory.

it is for sure that some people in the FOS community would prefer to see Microsoft products just vanish from the enterprises, but this is unlikely to happen any time soon, so Novell must take a more conservative approach and accept that they are here to staly for some time. But don't get me wrong: Novell people never liked Microsoft and this is marriage for convenience and unfortunately business are like this.

I think it would be a sign of maturity that the FOS community accepted the facts of life.

Re:Cool (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780297)

"this is marriage for convenience and unfortunately business are like this."

Microsoft's track record of "working with other companies" isn't very good.

Re:Cool (5, Informative)

deek (22697) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779487)

I'm not sure how much just one developer can do, but props to Novell nonetheless.

Never fear, because he's not doing all the coding himself. According to the link in the article, he's had over 100 volunteers to help him out. If he's good at managing them, then 100 talented coders could certainly make a large impact!

Re:Cool (2, Funny)

alphabeat (1162741) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779503)

Here's hoping he can manage the volunteers. Can't forget the old adage about getting 300 workers to complete a 300 day job in 1 day. I think I saw this on Dilbert no less.

Re:Cool (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779861)

By that logic, you could get a baby in one week by having sex 39 times!

Re:Cool (1)

Bronster (13157) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780375)

I suspect you could get 300 volunteers for that easily enough too...

That's a lot of dough they're throwing at it (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780245)

A high-ranking developer such as him probably commands a very high salary, and for a reason. With 100 part-time developers under him that he can subdivide as he sees fit, it should play out interestingly.

re your sig (int64.org - When 4GiB of RAM just isn't enough.)
Isn't the limit a little bit less than 4 gigs on 32 bit? (ot is it only MS OSes that have that odd limit)

Does that mean we can nominate any device? (0, Flamebait)

shanen (462549) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779385)

I just put Ubuntu on a Sharp WA70, and it has no idea what to do with the video devices that must belong to the built-in tuner. It would be nice to enable the TV...

No attempt at insight, but I can't believe I'm in the running for first post. I bet I missed it already. *sigh* (The *sigh* did me in.)

Re:Does that mean we can nominate any device? (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779407)

The project is for developing drivers with manufacturer support. So if you can get the manufacturer of your favourite device to work with the developers then, sure, you can 'nominate' that device.

Re:Does that mean we can nominate any device? (1)

shanen (462549) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779465)

Well, Sharp is a fairly big operation, but I haven't detected much interest from them in terms of supporting Linux on their larger computers. I don't know if that's because of their limited English capabilities, or just the speed with which new models enter and leave the market. I'm pretty sure the WA-70 model is already out of production.

Actually, the main problem with the current installation is that the network interface doesn't initialize when the machine first boots, so I need to deactivate it and then activate it again (sometimes several times) before it connects to the network. My current repair plan is to wait and see if the major upgrade next month does any good for the machine...

On the other hand, if it is a language problem, my Japanese is possibly good enough that I could help interface to someone here in Japan--but not so good that I want to spend a lot of time wandering around Sharp trying to find someone to interface to.

Re:Does that mean we can nominate any device? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779597)

Are you sure that the network device doesn't need some other device to load first. I have seen that when using windows .dll files though wine. The network init scripts fail to control the NIC until after the .dll files are loaded. In that case, there is some tricks that could be done to the boot process to ensure the correct files are loaded first.

I'm not familiar with Ubuntu enough to explain what and where. But I'm sure others have had the same problems/if this is true. The concept is the same for most versions of linux. Just a little different in the config files. In my case, I had to ad entries to the files in /etc/rc.d and /etc/?? I don't remeber the second place.

You might be able to check that route and find a solution on the interweb if not in a ubuntu forum somewhere.

Re:Does that mean we can nominate any device? (2, Insightful)

killmofasta (460565) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779965)

Does any one see the connection?

Novell Makes Linux Driver Project a Reality?
AMD Releases Register Specs For R5xx And R6xx?

Does this mean that the "Novell have released a first alpha quality Open Source drivers"
will go to beta, and then GM?

The combination of these two ideas, only two days apart.
I would *LOVE* to see 2D acceleration on my X1300 in Linux.
That would be so cool!

Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (5, Interesting)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779395)

On one side I'm happy to hear of this effort, OTOH I'm concerned that this is one of the vendors with an alliance to a multiple convictions monopolist.

As drivers are pretty much kernel level activities I would like to see assurances that such development is clean and cannot be used to manufacture truth behind the nebulous IP infringement claims which have stopped in countries where you can't make such statements without having to prove it (which says IMHO a lot in itself).

So, IMHO the news deserves a welcome with caution..

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779409)

I bet employees of Novell will read your post and shake their heads.. maybe mutter the word "Slashdot" with an explicative prefixed.

But this is what your management has done to your brand. Congratulations.

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779459)

Nitpick: expletive, not explicative. Now you know :)

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (4, Insightful)

W2k (540424) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779547)

I bet employees of Novell will read your post and shake their heads.. maybe mutter the word "Slashdot" with an explicative prefixed.

And they would be right. The enormous and irrational bias on /. against anything even remotely affiliated with Microsoft is pathetic and reflects very poorly on the people of the free/open software community. Although I expect most of the complainers have never actually written a line of open source code.

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779605)

It's not just here man. Microsoft is poison. Everyone knows that. You get in bed with them and you might as well kiss your business goodbye, if not your entire part of the industry.

Novell should have known this better than most.

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (1)

apokryphos (869208) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779687)

To be honest, when exactly are these promises of collateral damage going to happen? It's been quite a while now since the deal, and I'm still waiting for the earth to end. All we've had is some vocal people spreading FUD about "they're so bad, they're so bad", when every single fact about their contribution to OSS in the past and now points in the exact opposite direction.

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779989)

To be honest, when exactly are these promises of collateral damage going to happen?
The current plan is the third Tuesday of October. We picked an arbitrary day because we knew it would confuse you.
HAHAHAHAHA

-signed a Novell code monkey posting anonymous for obvious reasons

you didn't hear it from me.

Microsoft reaps the reputation that it sows (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779767)

The enormous and irrational bias on /. against anything even remotely affiliated with Microsoft is pathetic

I'm not anybody's fanboy, and that includes Linux, Unix or anything else, because I'm an engineer and I rate things on merit.

Yet I have great difficulty finding any sympathy for what you wrote, when Microsoft seems at every turn to do its darndest to spew its worst at the FOSS community, with its only concern being what's immediately good for Microsoft. You might find your arguments gather more support if you could present example cases of MS doing good in the open arena, yet even one single clear case is hard to find. Everything they do seems to have unfortunate dark corners.

I suspect that the problem is that the left hand in MS doesn't know what the right hand is doing, and the anti-openness factions there destroy any good work that others do. Well unfortunately that then creates the stigma you see, and it's not irrational as you claim but deserved.

Microsoft gets good press when it does good. For instance, WinXP became quite a good product, and really solid when used correctly and when apps like MSIE are avoided. The company earned volumes of kudos because of that, even on Slashdot, because it was deserved.

Actual merit is important for reputation, and you seem to forget that fundamental principle. Microsoft will have to earn a better reputation if it is to get one.

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (2, Insightful)

apokryphos (869208) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779629)

> But this is what your management has done to your brand. Congratulations.

No, it's what those few very-vocal poisonous [google.com] people in the OSS community have done. Instead of praising one of the biggest contributors to open-source-software ever (and probably the biggest company in the world contributing to the Linux desktop), they spread FUD around.

I don't like MS more than the next guy, but if people didn't have such an incredible irrational hatred towards anything with the word "MS", and think that anything involving money necessitates some sort of "selling out" (when reality indicates the contrary), they'd see it's more than possible to have a good deal with a bad company, that it happens in business all the time, and that this is a perfect example of it.

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (1, Troll)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780285)

it's more than possible to have a good deal with a bad company,
Sure, everyhing is great at first. I think you missed the part of the movie where the devil comes to collect on his dues.

Do you honestly think that Microsoft did any of this to propel Novell and Linux into market dominance? There's nothing in Novell a company with 40bn couldn't buy outright or develop on their own, so what are they really after? Whether it's to turn them to the dark side, set them up to be the fall guy or their source of FUD, but it's not to be the patron saint of Novell. I expect that as the end of the deal approaches we'll see a ton of FUD, increased license fees and whatnot.

It's all about GPL v3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779757)

This is a way for Novel to insure the kernel stays GPL v2. Novell will never allow their code (drivers) to be under GPL v3.

Re:Good to hear - as long as they stay clean.. (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779997)

"On one side I'm happy to hear of this effort, OTOH I'm concerned that this is one of the vendors with an alliance to a multiple convictions monopolist."

I take it you only use that logic when you want to. Otherwise, what country would you live in?

Success Stories? (3, Interesting)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779403)

Just curious, but where is the list touting the manufacturers that stepped forward and provided documentation (and consequently which new hardware is supported). Be nice to see what progress this campaign has made and is continuing to make.

Also it would be nice to get a list going of which hardware I should look forward to.

Re:Success Stories? (4, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779535)

Sorry, The NDA has forbidden the release of manufacturer names. :)

Re:Success Stories? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779705)

Just curious, but where is the list touting the manufacturers that stepped forward and provided documentation (and consequently which new hardware is supported). Be nice to see what progress this campaign has made and is continuing to make.



Here's one:
http://arstechnica.com/journals/linux.ars/2007/09/21/amdati-release-register-specifications-novell-follows-with-alpha-driver [arstechnica.com]

Great idea -- FOSS-friendly promotion wiki (4, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779983)

> where is the list touting the manufacturers that stepped forward and provided documentation

That's an excellent idea. A simple wiki page would suffice, providing links to each manufacturer, their open docs page, and their sources page, if any. Use a wiki so that people can add their own entries, and so that the admin can revert abuse easily.

As the list grows, people would start looking there before buying equipment, and to not be listed on it would become a problem for manufacturers by giving their competitors a boost. Don't list manufacturers who don't offer this, as listing them in red might get their lawyers agitated. Omitting them is enough.

Oh, and provide links below it to one or two products produced by each of these friendly manufacturers ... ie. free advertising. They rub our backs, we rub theirs.

To those who criticise those who criticise Tom Tom (5, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779405)

Here is an example of a for profit company giving something back. Novell may not be on everyone's favorite list, but there are plenty of companies that actually see the potential for profit by doing things that are helpful. I was personally annoyed at how 9/10 posts in the TomTom thread were simply "they make more money by not being good citizens" posts, and yet those posters intentionally ignored how doing good things can lead to a stronger bottom line, even if the path is not as direct, by building community interest. Anyway, I'm going to make it a point to shun penny wise and pound foolish companies here on out. Start flaming.

Re:To those who criticise those who criticise Tom (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779493)

Novell may not be on everyone's favorite list

You don't say :) (check my sig)

Seriously though, your perception of people's perception of Novell is skewed, since you're on Slashdot. Over here Novell is related to Microsoft, and hence causes knee jerk reactions by most of the commenters.

Novell isn't attracting so much negative feedback out of here.

Comparing apples and oranges (2, Insightful)

mce (509) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779985)

Of course there is plenty potential for profit by doing things that are helpful. But you are comparing apples and oranges. Novell is helping Linux development for free, because Linux actually also is a Novell product that helps them sell a lot of other stuff in their "natural home market". TomTom sells to end-users, most of whom couldn't care less about Linux. Hell, TomTom developers could even he actively belping Linux kernel development, without it impacting the company's sales (I've seen this happen in my own company). I personally always refuse to buy computer-related goodies that do not work with Linux, but you need to look at it from the company's point of view: suporting Linux users will inevitably cost them something and if that is not compensated by extra income, be it from sales or goodwill, it makes perfect business sense for them not to do it. That's irrespective of how much us zealots would want things to be done differently.

Hope it works out better than Hula (1)

horza (87255) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780183)

I was really excited about the Hula project, it looked to be a very promising email/calendar server. Then Novell jumped into bed with Microsoft and promptly abandoned it. Very disappointing. I haven't much confidence this scheme isn't going to be abandoned half way through either. The great thing about the GPL is that at least any work that IS done will be forked and continued if any good. For example with Hula becoming Bongo.

Phillip.

Re:Hope it works out better than Hula (1)

mjorkerina (1158683) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780387)

They dumped Hula because it was not going to go anywhere anytime soon and was just not worth it, nothing to do with the MS deal.

Timing (3, Interesting)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779411)

What with so many people disgusted with Vista compatibility issues, there is a real opportunity here.

Heck, even when people "downgrade" (upgrade?) to XP, I've heard there can be missing or broken driver issues with some new hardware. Companies figured they would only write Vista drivers for certain new parts.

Linux has made many advances in "average Joe" usability. Combine that with hardware compatibility so good that Linux "works out of the box" BETTER than windows, and Windows starts to look a lot less like it's worth all that money. This could be huge for "mainstream" users.

Here's hoping that the next computer my Grandmother gets is windows free.

Re:Timing (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779551)

Its just one guy.

In fact, I am surprised that more distros are .... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779601)

throwing money at this. Get the drivers and perhaps a few more apps written, and Linux has opportunities. This would be a very good time for redhat and ubuntu to hire a few coders for this team and perhaps devote 1-2 marketing ppl to encourage companies to give them work to do. The apps is a bit tougher but doable. In particular, try to encourage TurboTax to port, or develop a new version. I would work with large home apps.

Re:Timing (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779665)

You know, the time for thinking like that was back when Vista was just rolling out and all the press about it wasn't favorable. When people and companies think about having to upgrade and do all the training and all that would be necessary to switch to vista successfully, they saw that they could switch to linux with about the same cost and be free of MS's tactics. Vista coming to the market took all those "windows is cheaper" TCO studies and tossed out the parts benefiting Microsoft's OSes and put linux on a level playing field as far as training people to use it and getting things going.

Instead, we, well, I think I should say some people, decided to create a FUD Fest with Novell in order to give MS all the ammo they needed to say, "do you really want to goto some as unstable as that?" "They are attacking their own kind just because we tried to make it easier to use their stuff". And of course a lot of potential switchers said hell no give another round of shit Mr Gates.

It would be nice if we could sweep that stuff under the rug and act like it never happened. But I have a feeling that we will need to wait until MS starts forcing people out of XP by either deactivating it or refusing to activate it after a reload. For now, I think we have scared too many people who would actually look at it away. And for all those who wouldn't know about the MS-FSF-Novell FUD campaigns, they wouldn't be switching anyways. It would be the smart people/companies who would look into things and eventually see that who would be switching. I'm afraid we have missed the boat and are pretending to be on the cruise at this point.

Re:Timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20780031)

But I have a feeling that we will need to wait until MS starts forcing people out of XP by either deactivating it or refusing to activate it after a reload.

Get real. Much as they might like to do this, they won't/can't. The negative publicity and many lawsuits (given that you buy a *perpetual* license when you buy a copy of XP, albeit restricted to a particular machine in the OEM case) would be more than even MS could tolerate. No XP user that this happened to would ever trust an MS OS again. MS may be stupid, but they're not THAT stupid. They would have to move to a 'software rental' model for the OS before they could get away with something like this.

I'm not complaining about /.'s ad policy, but... (0, Offtopic)

ilzogoiby (997881) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779417)

why do we find ads like this one in linux.slashdot.org (it happened right now)? http://spe.atdmt.com/ds/NMMRTUMISITP/mrs06256_news_336x280.jpg?spd=104 [atdmt.com] Ironic, no?

Re:I'm not complaining about /.'s ad policy, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779439)

Even funnier that they're quoting the "former Director"...

Re:I'm not complaining about /.'s ad policy, but.. (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779471)

I don't know. I don't have an ad-blocker, I do, however, have NoScript on and I don't allow offsite scripts to run on a site (unless I can see its for very important functional reasons). There's no reason except laziness to not host the ads locally (or parse it into the page in perl (?)) or to try to give someone cookies to track them with. So unfortunately for slashdot, I no longer see its ads.

Re:I'm not complaining about /.'s ad policy, but.. (0, Offtopic)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779585)

There's no reason except laziness to not host the ads locally
I can't quote any TOS here, but IIRC many ad providers (in this case DoubleClick/Google) require their users to include a .js from their servers (probably for easier upgradeability from their side).

Re:I'm not complaining about /.'s ad policy, but.. (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779639)

probably for easier upgradeability from their side
Even if that's true (and IMO the real reason is cookies, Google is infamous for them with their ads) its pure laziness to require it.

Re:I'm not complaining about /.'s ad policy, but.. (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779879)

Because you have misconfigured your advertisement-blocker. Now, move back six spaces and miss a turn.

Re:I'm not complaining about /.'s ad policy, but.. (1)

ilzogoiby (997881) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779929)

To those who might think otherwise, I'm not complaining about the presence of ads, but about an anedoctal situation, created by the fact that Slashdot's ads are clearly not targeted to the audience in question, or... they're rather targeted to disagree with the latter. It's a case of destructive advertising: instead of advertising products that might interest to Linux users, they're advertising products that are themselves an alternative to Linux, in a not very ethical way (at least that's my point of view). Cheers, Pedro

Re:I'm not complaining about /.'s ad policy, but.. (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780207)

Well, I block all advertisements on general principle, and I am very aggressive about it. I don't go on the Internet without my faithful Squid proxy server, and I don't watch television without the aid of Sky Plus.

And if an advert slips through, I make a resolution never, ever to buy that product. I'm fussy what I do with my hard-earned, and I don't want any part of it spent on thrusting tacky images in people's faces instead of making a better product.

Novell always supports opensource (5, Interesting)

jsse (254124) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779427)

Novell always hires GPL developers on part-time basis for developing small Linux projects which are eventually release with GPL licenses (because they're developed with GPL software anyway). Many freelance GPL developers here (China and Hong Kong) support their living by taking these jobs.

So it isn't much a news at all. Anyway, gratz Greg. ^_^

Ths bit sounds fishy... (0)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779435)

We are a group of Linux kernel developers (over 100 strong) and project managers (over 10) that develop and maintain Linux kernel drivers. We work with the manufacturers of the specific device to specify, develop, submit to the main kernel, and maintain the kernel drivers. We are willing and able to sign NDAs with companies if they wish to keep their specifications closed, as long as we are able to create a proper GPLv2 Linux kernel driver as an end result.
So let's say, there's a driver that goes like this: ...
1. Read from input buffer
2. Check for DRM
3. Verify if hardware and OS is 'trusted'
4. Transfer to output buffer ...

Now, the GPL2 license might allow rewriting the driver minus steps 2 and 3; but since Tivoisation is not illegal, the new kernel could be disabled by the hardware / firmware. It would appear that Novell is assisting unscrupulous hardware vendors to participate in the 'Linux movement' without abiding by the spirit of the GPL.

Re:Ths bit sounds fishy... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779573)

You clearly don't understand; the group are saying that they'll happily keep the hardware documentation top-secret, but that the source code for the resulting driver must be GPL2. There is no threat of being locked out, the driver is fully open.

This is a very good thing, but I expect the real benefits will be on server hardware, not consumer devices.

Re:Ths bit sounds fishy... (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779677)

Sorry to say this so harshly, but:
Fuck the spirit of the fucking GPL. Everybody's always talking about the Evil Windows Tax and how Linux would take the world in a matter of seconds if driver support was better. And you know what? It's not gonna fucking happen as long as this permanent whine about "violating the spirit of the GPL" and "evilness of binary drivers" persists. If I understand this right, free software is about being free as in freedom. Freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom of releasing motherfucking binary drivers. For whatever reason, be it architecture secrets, ugly code or pure notwantingness, some manufacturers don't and will not release open drivers.

Suggestion: If you don't like binary drivers, whatever the Linux Driver Project does or Transsexual Midget Porn, ignore it. Stick to Gobuntu or any other exclusively free software distro and be happy about it, but please let the rest of the world have fun with fast, manufacturer-supported unfree binary hunks that let 'em use their hardware.

Re:Ths bit sounds fishy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779945)

>We are willing and able to sign NDAs with companies if they wish to keep their specifications closed, as long as we are able to create a proper GPLv2 Linux kernel driver as an end result.

Ha ha ha...are you brain dead?

Re:Ths bit sounds fishy... (3, Insightful)

00_NOP (559413) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780009)

Exceot that once you have released a driver under GPL v2, then anyone can hack it to remove the DRM check. Tivo-isation is about how the hardware behaves, not the software.

Re:Ths bit sounds fishy... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780361)

Look, as part of being an employee you're implicitly covered by your work contract etc. not to reveal sensitive things. Consequently because there is no clear separation you don't keep what's "could be public" internal and "could not be public" internal information apart. What's going on here is simplly "Rifle through these papers and see if you find what you need, but we need an NDA if case you find some other eensitive stuff mixed in."

Besides, the GPL unlike the BSD/X11 license states that it must be in the preferred form for modification. That's why nvidia can have a completely obfuscated 2D driver, which in essence makes all arguments about being able to fix the code yourself invalid.

To me, driver problems in Linux are much lesser (2, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779501)

..nowadays than just 3 years ago. However, I don't have any particularly egzotic hardware, or need for top-speed from my graphic card (you can tell I am not into 3D gaming).

However, where I do feel the pain is, when Linux doesn't recognize my soundchip. That drives me bonkers, and it's still a running concern. I guess Linux users are not into music that much. I just tried booting the newest Xubuntu live CD, and my otherwise puny soundchip wasn't detected. (worked fine on the laptop, though, so it's hit and miss) I hope Novell's efforts will bring at least a small improvement in this area.

Re:To me, driver problems in Linux are much lesser (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779575)

That's pretty uncommon actually, as there's only like 4 major chipsets for sound. what chipset is it?

What sound chip? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779699)

Look up my webpage and use the link there to mail me with the description of your chip. (you can do an "lspci" to find out).

The only one I've found to be a bit annoying lately as far as your standard with-board fare are some of the Intel HD Audio chips (82801G or 82810G, something like that) , and I just managed to get that working tonight. While I have this nagging suspicion you might have a similar chipset (it's fairly common), I might be able to help with others as well.

Re:To me, driver problems in Linux are much lesser (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779711)

You probably don't have a sound chip. You likely have a DSP and a piece of software that runs as a sound device on your computer. Most on board sounds chips are like this. Most of them have fixes and ways to make them work but I have found that changes in the DSP itself has caused stuff to be misidentified and end up not working because of it. I think the older AC97 devices had this issue with ALSA for some time. I wouldn't surprise me if something hasn't happened again along this pattern.

DSP, or "digital signal processor" might be the wrong term for it. But the idea is that the software is basically a sound card and the chip only takes the information from a digital level and placed it in an analog output that your speakers can use. If you want a real sound chip, something like an older sound blaster, turtle beach and so on would offer real sound. I used to hate older slow computers with little memory and those types of chips (DSP). Playing sounds or music could drag that damn thing to a halt almost.

Re:To me, driver problems in Linux are much lesser (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779791)

You probably don't have a sound chip. You likely have a DSP and a piece of software that runs as a sound device on your computer..... But the idea is that the software is basically a sound card and the chip only takes the information from a digital level and placed it in an analog output that your speakers can use. If you want a real sound chip, something like an older sound blaster, turtle beach and so on would offer real sound. I used to hate older slow computers with little memory and those types of chips (DSP). Playing sounds or music could drag that damn thing to a halt almost.

WTF? This is how things have developed, and IMHO it's good. Old soundcards did things like FM synth in hardware, now we have enough oomph for doing it in software, which is much more flexible. I mean, imagine you used soundcard hardware for playing MP3s, you'd have to buy a new card for playing Vorbis. It's also good unix philosophy to separate the DAC/ADC from DSP and other processing. Then you can focus on building simple high-quality devices, rather than crap with bazillions of features.

Re:To me, driver problems in Linux are much lesser (2, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779855)

No, you could still do new things in software. Just because it is in hardware doesn't mean it is locked there forever. It just mean that a driver update or a software installation of some media player or something.

And no, I see this as the same half a modem when you have to use your computer to do the functions of the modem. If you buy a device, you should at least expect it to be a complete device. Not to depend on the system processor and memory that you install on your own. IT seems like we are getting ripped off when they are marketing half the hardware as the complete product. If you like it, fine. But that is why there are problem getting it to work. I really don't know what else to say except but the engine with your car if you expect to drive anywhere you want.

Re:To me, driver problems in Linux are much lesser (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779779)

However, where I do feel the pain is, when Linux doesn't recognize my soundchip. That drives me bonkers, and it's still a running concern. I guess Linux users are not into music that much. I just tried booting the newest Xubuntu live CD, and my otherwise puny soundchip wasn't detected. (worked fine on the laptop, though, so it's hit and miss) I hope Novell's efforts will bring at least a small improvement in this area.

I use Linux for making music [iki.fi] . As with any hardware/OS combination, if you intend to use Linux, you should do your homework on supported devices. That way you'll also encourage further Linux-friendly hardware development.

Re:To me, driver problems in Linux are much lesser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779843)

sound is muted by default check this and then get over yourself and admit this was the problem

Re:To me, driver problems in Linux are much lesser (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780025)

"However, where I do feel the pain is, when Linux doesn't recognize my soundchip."

I don't think I have ever had windows recognise my soundchip. With Linux (opensuse, ubuntu, slackware) all I have had to do was put the chip type into google with the distro name and follow the instructions.

Please mark them well... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779567)

so that I can avoid them. I don't want to be polluted by any code that might be covered by patent racket agreements I can't read.

Still not the Right(TM) way (4, Insightful)

temcat (873475) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779701)

As much as I applaud the driver initiative by GregKH, this development approach is flawed, because a handful of developers has neither the throughput nor the expertise needed to write high-quality drivers for the great many devices of vastly different kinds that are released every day. The people who made a device know its ins and outs better than a kernel developer, because that's what they specialize in; they can squeeze more performance out of it. Therefore, drivers should be developed by the manufacturer of the device in consultation with kernel developers, not vice versa.

Still, even this kind of collaboration on the manufacturers' part is better than pretending that Linux doesn't exist at all.

Re:Still not the Right(TM) way (2, Insightful)

JonJ (907502) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779957)

But the people that made the hardware might suck royally at actually writing a driver. This is why this project aims to give better communication between hardware manufacturers and kernel hackers.

Re:Still not the Right(TM) way (5, Informative)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780035)

Having worked both directly with hardware developers (as an embedded systems developer) and with kernel development, this is not quite that clear to me. In some cases, the hardware knowledge side is the most important; in others, the kernel side. Mostly, the kernel side of things is harder to learn than the hardware side, though, so the kernel development skills is the important side. Also, kernel developers often have more experience with working with different kinds of hardware, so they will know how to trick around the particular piece.

And, importantly: For a LOT of the hardware on the market, what's important is the chipset used, not wiring around it. And the "hardware manufacturer" has often only done the wiring.

Eivind.

Re:Still not the Right(TM) way (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780185)

Sure, hardware manufacturers should produce drivers for developers. And developers should produce applications for users. *snaps whip* You know better how to program than me, so get to it.

If the manufacturers want to produce their own driver, that's great. If they don't I don't see why they should "have to" any more than a developer should "have to" implement my pet feature, just because they'd be better at it.

It would after all be rather hypocritical if the community famous for "If you want something, write it yourself" couldn't take a bit of "if you want drivers, write them yourself". That's right, you don't only get to do the cool and flashy stuff but also the dirty work everybody takes as granted that should work.

Poor fucker. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779707)

'My employer, Novell, has modified my position to now allow me to work full time on this project. Namely getting more new Linux kernel drivers written, for free, for any company that so desires. And to help manage all of the developers and project managers who want to help out...They really care about helping make Linux support as many devices as possible, with fully open-source drivers.'

Damn you Novell! (0, Redundant)

ceeam (39911) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779753)

$SUBJ. Can you please drop that agreement with you-know-who so we can kinda like you again.

Wireless drivers!!! (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779777)

How many poor laptops out there that are forced to use ndiswrapper to deal with those annoying broadcomm based chips? I know I'm one of them, and unfortunately my hardware (HP pavillion zd7000) locks me to the vendor-allowed chipsets and thus gets really pissy if I put a decent card like an Intel IPW2200 in here.

Re:Wireless drivers!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20779895)

you bought an hp laptop and you want sympathy ?

Re:Wireless drivers!!! (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780059)

I've got a zd8000. It's irritating how wireless doesn't work, but I've just decided to accept that and plug into the wall. I haven't even considered swapping out the chipset because it's not really a big deal.

Re:Wireless drivers!!! (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780489)

You can't disable this device in the BIOS? I had built-in wireless go cuckoo in a laptop and once I disabled in BIOS and removed the XP drivers, the replacement card started working. Any chance that the true problem may be your Linux drivers for the CardBus?

NovellSoft? (1)

Mystic Silverfox (938413) | more than 7 years ago | (#20779889)

O.K., this is a belated post, but none the less... am I the only one who thinks it's odd that not so long ago Novell cowed to MicroS**ts bullying and inked a deal? And now they assign ONE worker to help develop drivers to make Linux more compatible with more devices? What good would it be if somehow they design it in such a way that it's only compatible with Novell's distro? Sorry, but even if I am way off, Novell has lost ALL credibility with me.

Re:NovellSoft? (1)

allcar (1111567) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780251)

Give them a break. It's like raising kids. When they do something bad, make them sit on the naughty chair. When they do something good (like this), praise them. As long as they are bound by the GPL, they can't do anything bad to the Kernel.

Documentation (3, Insightful)

Nikademus (631739) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780003)

Also make sure they disclose documentation so that _all_ free OSes can have free drivers, not just linux.

Is it the year of Linux at last? (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780253)

I've been using one flavour of Linux or another for years now and every few months someone says "this is the year of Linux" or some such and everytime we see a decent improvement but nothing like the improvement that would be needed to really cement Linux's position.

I'm starting to wonder, however, if we have actually finally turned the corner. Dell with Linux PCs, AMD / ATI promising open source drivers now this announcement as well as a myriad of others. This is starting to sound like the last few big companies holding out are finally thinking there is something worth looking at with Linux. Ok, it's still small time compared to Windows support but it's a fine start.

Perhaps it won't happen this year but I could see Linux making some good growth in late 2008 through 2009

The only thing we need now is one desktop environment rather than two. Sigh. I've given up even caring which on wins anymore I just wish we had one decent one.

Good start but ..... (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780269)

This is a good start, but I would prefer to see the problem tackled from the other end. That is, I would like to see it made law that manufacturers must release specifications that would enable a competent programmer to create a driver for any hardware device they manufacture, if they want to be allowed to sell it at all. They shouldn't necessarily have to include a printed copy in the box if it would adversely affect the cost, but they should be obliged to supply it gratis to anyone who can prove that they own the hardware. Then you get it both ways. The purists get Free and Open Source drivers, and the "I don't care as long as it works" brigade (I bet they'd start caring pretty bloody quick, if the manufacturer suddenly stopped supporting the product with even closed binary-only drivers) get something that works.

And before someone whinges that this will lead to copying, allow me to say a big fat "screw you!" If what you make can be copied so easily and cheaply, then it's not so special. In a genuinely free market, it's the buyer who decides how much something is worth.

I believe this might even actually be the law in some parts of Europe. If so, perhaps they need to start enforcing it.

Re:Good start but ..... (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780357)

"If what you make can be copied so easily and cheaply, then it's not so special." You just stepped on my soul. I write software for a living. *sob*

amazing (2, Interesting)

setrops (101212) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780293)

Get over yourselves, this is a good thing at a time that may be most crucial. Vista has been widly viewed as bad. And unless Microsoft comes out with something new in the next 2 years the Linux/Mac community has all that time to show the regular Windows users why they should switch to Linux/Mac.

Mac is winning, not because it's better but because of Linux is an incoherent mess of dozens of distribution with no clear reason why to select one over the other.

You want mom and pop and aunt Rose to use it? Well here is your chance. don't fuck up!

Great news!! (1)

luncheon (1121123) | more than 7 years ago | (#20780303)

I now only need a Linux Putter and Sand Wedge to replace my Windows-based ones!
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