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Donald Becker regarding the 3Com driver release

Sep 19, 1999, 03:19 (16 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Donald Becker)

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Linux Today reader Simon Epsteyn asked Donald Becker these questions about the 3Com driver for Linux release:

Could you please clarify the state of things regarding 3Com release of GPLed drivers, are you planning to sync with them or is this going to be 2 separate competitive drivers?

3Com has been planning on releasing their own drivers for quite some time. Their driver will remain separate.

I see official support from 3Com as a very good thing.

It will be up to the community to decide which driver is best. In some cases having two competing drivers is significantly better. My opinions have shaped the capabilities of the current driver, and the 3Com driver will make it clear that there were alternative approaches.

A specific example is that the 3Com drivers attempt to detect a 10base2 connection by being able to successfully transmit a packet. I have long avoided putting this in any of my drivers because it's not entirely reliable (it is *mostly* reliable), it transmits a spurious packet on the wire, and it adds noticably to complexity and code size.

Another example is that I have favored terseness and small binary size, over a driver written with names and functions that abstract the actions aways from the hardware operation. I find my coding style ar easier to read and to hand check, but I realize that this might, maybe, be a matter of opinion. In some cases my coding style and idioms are driven by looking at the compiler output for various architectures, and the rationale might not be apparent to those less oriented to that goal.

On 3Com's web site it says:

Note: The 3C59x, 3C900 and 3C905 series NICs are supported by Donald Becker's driver. This driver can be obtained at the below URL:

What does that mean? Did they use any of your code?

No. The 3Com driver is largely based their existing Windows driver. They have chosen to support only their new products, rather than their "mature" product line.

Dislaimer: I have no revenue relationship with 3Com. They have provided me with sample boards and documentation over the years, and I occasionally visit and correspond with people there.

Donald Becker
Scyld Computing Corp. / USRA-CESDIS