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Reflections on the hardware industry

Feb 09, 2009, 10:03 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Harald Welte)

[ Thanks to Jose_X for this link. ]

"The entire food chain in between, at least one level of OEM and ODM - possibly more - prevents the actual existing demand from those smaller innovative companies to ever reach what the chip maker perceives as specs. Those intermediaries (OEM/ODM) typically have very limited skill and understanding about anything related to Software, not even talking about FOSS. They know how to make many boards cheap. In fact, their skill typically is so low that all they can use for their products are so-called turnkey solutions: A full reference board design and complete software stack that they can copy+paste with only the most superficial modifications.

"This is why no single mainboard maker (probably apart from Intel's mainboard division and some parts of Dell) ever tries to boot a Linux Live-CD on one of their boards before shipping it, or bothers to get their ACPI tables correct. Whoever buys most of those boards doesn't have "ACPI compliance" or "Linux support" in their specs. The fact that there are hundreds of small companies who each might do thousands of units for niche markets desperately look for products with good Linux support [which is impossible without open source] doesn't matter.

"Or in the embedded networking market for DSL modems, WiFi routers or the like, none of the large buyers (i.e. ISPs or Telcos) has "frequent security updates" on their spec. The security updates would be something that requires the chip maker to use (and follow) more recent kernels, and could even drive them away from proprietary kernel modules, since the ABI and API incompatibilities would probably make them quite hard."

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