3rd party drivers: Was Re: Kernel Geeks Unite?

Stephen Williams (steve@icarus.icarus.com)
Wed, 10 Sep 1997 12:54:55 +0800

root@jennifer-unix.dyn.ml.org said:
> It would be wonderful if device makers would include linux drivers,
> but it ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Not so. Picture Elements delivers linux drivers with our boards, as modules.
However, we distribute them as source and the installation is a little bit
harder then it needs to be.

Some problems that I encounter are:

- Kernel symbol versioning is too strict. (Not having some form of versioning
is too lax.) Type-safe linking of modules (a la C++)would be very helpful
indeed, and pretty darn nifty.

- A documented DDI would be nice. The system call interface is for the
applications, the DDI interface for modules. This would allow drivers to
survive versions better.

- Major number assignment. Seems like the assignment of major numbers should
be a local problem, not a global one. Might I suggest that a range of numbers
be set aside as "locally assigned" and let kerneld straighten it out. If the
module always takes major_number=<foo> and I can set up the aliases in kerneld
config files, major number assignment problems will go away. (Mass market
devices can continue to use preassigned numbers.)

Yes, I will continue to ship driver source, but it would be nice to be
able to include precompiled binaries, and install the driver with a few
simple commands.

Incidentally, there is a man9 project for keeping ddi man pages. We have
a plausible set available at: <http://www.muppetlabs.com/~kirk/man9/>.

Steve Williams

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And lines to code before I sleep, And lines to code before I sleep."