Re: OFFTOPIC: binary modules, bad idea!

Theodore Y. Ts'o (tytso@MIT.EDU)
Fri, 19 Dec 1997 12:50:04 -0500

Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 23:45:55 -0800
From: Stephen Williams <>

Of course, now everybody thinks I'm a weenie bean-counter with dilusions
of trade secrets, but all I want to do is be able to pre-compile my device
driver modules for my customers (many of whom are NT users and can't spell
"C") so I can make a nifty little .rpm that has device drivers in them.
They can have the bloody source!

Unless we get to the point where we can formalize the I/O interface
enough where we can set it into concrete, I'm afraid that's not every
likely (unfortunately).

The best thing I can suggest is an .rpm file which includes the source,
and an installation script which compiles the device driver for the
existing running kernel. This at least gives users the functional
experience of doing an "rpm -i", and having the device driver being
automatically compiled and then installed, which is what they want.

True, this doesn't work terribly well for Slackware and other
distributions where the kernel include files don't match the kernel
which you've booted, but those distributions are usually horribly broken
in other ways anyway, and you can just tell users to reinstall to a more
modern distributions.

(I've gotten e-mail messages from users who basically said, "I tried
installing the Comtrol rocketport driver under Slackware, and it locked
up; I tried all sorts of things, and finally gave up and installed
RedHat, and it all just started working magically." Well, I wouldn't
call it magic, since it wasn't all that surprising to me....)

- Ted