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Donald Becker regarding the 3Com driver release

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