Open Source

Linux kernel developers protest proprietary drivers

It seems like there's a lot of movin' and shakin' going on in open source this week. People may continue to debate the usability of Linux on corporate desktops for awhile yet, but there's clearly a lot of exciting things going on in all corners of the Linux world.

On June 23, 2008, the kernel development community issued a statement on closed source drivers and modules. The official statement can be found at the Linux Foundation. According to heise online:

The group includes such well known names in the Linux world as Greg Kroah-Hartman, Alan Cox, Andrew Morton, James Bottomley, Adrian Bunk, Arjan van de Ven and Ingo Molnar, all of whom feel that closed source drivers that the kernel loads at run time are undesired and detrimental....

In addition to the security problems caused by inaccessible source code, the developers mainly emphasise the open source principle. They feel that closed source drivers take away the freedom and benefits that Linux offers users as open source.

Just from my own limited experience trying to install and work with Linux, trying to get working drivers for sound and video was the thing that just made me want to chuck it out the window. Do you think this concerted effort of developers will spark any changes?

Meanwhile, ZDNet blogger Paula Rooney wonders what effect the departure of Bill Gates will have on Microsoft's attitude toward open source. She quotes one executive of the Linux Foundation:

"That depends on Ballmer and Ozzie and the results of what I imagine are some interesting debates internally. There is no doubt that Microsoft has no choice but to acknowledge that the closed development model for building software doesn't work any more," said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. "The future of cloud computing and Web 2.0 application development will be built on Linux and open source."

And finally, in the Financial Times of London, contributor Richard Waters writes that the "linux revolution's" big loser is Sun Microsystems:

By the time Sun gave up and converted Solaris to an open-source model, a large share of the server market had already switched to Linux.

Waters also thinks that Google's backing for Linux in the mobile arena will make it a serious competitor. It seems to me, that even without Google, Linux has been making big strides in mobile and UMPC markets. Micro-Star International just announced that it will be pre-loading SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on its low-cost mini-notebooks — the Wind Notebook — with Intel's Atom processors.



Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

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