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Poulsbo mess casts a shadow on Intel's Moblin project

Dec 14, 2009, 14:34 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ryan Paul)

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"Intel's Moblin astroturf blog: "Closed drivers? Who cares!"

"In response to the Linux Journal article, Intel's MoblinZone blog published a bizarre editorial that downplays the importance of open drivers and claims that users who are dissatisfied with the lack of support for GMA500 on Linux are at fault for buying products with that hardware. The editorial was written by Henry Kingman, who argues that open drivers aren't needed in the mobile and embedded space because products in that market don't have to be user-upgradeable.

""If some of the device drivers are closed, what does it matter? The system is 'embedded'—it's tied closely to the actual hardware present on the platform—and the user is never expected to change anything about the core system, neither hardware nor software. Even the manufacturer might not ever expect to upgrade the firmware on the device, once it's shipped. Closed drivers? Who cares!" he wrote. "Not only is there no significant penalty for closed drivers in the device world, sometimes, they work out better. There's a business advantage, in terms of vendor lock-in. If I'm a chip maker, my customer has to come back to me for a new driver or source-level license (with non-disclosure agreement) when they begin working on a new product model, or a firmware upgrade."

"He seems to be arguing that closed Linux drivers are a good business move because that approach to Linux support will allow the chip maker to extract recurring licensing revenue from the OEMs every time they want to make their devices work with a new version of the kernel. That kind of behavior is so egregiously antithetical to the principles of Linux development that I can't really imagine that any upstream Linux developers would consider it acceptable. If Intel and its partners want to do that kind of thing, it's their prerogative--but it's absolutely not going to help Moblin's credibility."

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