Having Linux Support For Your Hardware At Launch
Support for running Linux on new hardware -- whether it be motherboards, wireless adapters, graphics cards, or complete systems -- has largely eased up in the past few years. As can be seen from Phoronix reviews of new hardware at launch, in many cases there is Linux support available (e.g. with AMD's launch today of the FirePro V5900 and FirePro V7900 there is already Catalyst support) that continues to be refined over time whether it be in closed or open-source drivers. Even for vendors committed towards delivering open-source Linux hardware support, the path to new hardware enablement is not easy.
Matthew Tippett, the former lead of ATI/AMD Linux GPG (Graphics Product Group) engineering and now involved with the Phoronix Test Suite and its interests, has written about at-launch Linux hardware enablement. Over his many years at ATI/AMD he drove the overhauling of the Catalyst Linux stack to the point that it went from taking many months (or even over a year) for new ASICs to be supported under Linux to ultimately delivering same-day Linux support within their proprietary driver.
This article offers Matthew's unique perspective that IHVs (Independent Hardware Vendors) face in providing broad Linux support at the time of the product's launch. The article considers the aim of enablement, critical user scenarios, solutions, open issues, and conclusions.
The Linux market presents some unique challenges to Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs) in bringing their products to market with broad support available at the time of launch. Independent of idealogical or pragmatic rationale, both Open Source and proprietary drivers are constrained by similar mechanics. This article provides a broad outline of the mechanics and considerations that are needed for delivering hardware support at-launch.
The article can be read at Use-Cases.org. Along the same lines, it's also worth reading The Challenge In Delivering Open-Source GPU Drivers from this past January. [The aim is similar, back in January I had originally asked Matthew to write this Linux hardware enablement paper when discussing Sandy Bridge Linux support with Intel in private following their SNB challenges.]
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