Intel's IPU6 Webcam Linux Driver Still A Mess, But Some Patches To Help
Back in August upstream kernel maintainers like Greg Kroah-Hartman were recommending users avoid Alder Lake laptops over the out-of-tree IPU6 drivers needed for supporting the IPU6-based web cameras. Intel has made kernel driver sources available on GitHub but contingent upon proprietary user-space support. The exposed user-space API by the out-of-tree drivers is also not compatible with the common V4L2 interface.
Several months later, unfortunately, the situation is still a mess with the latest shiny Alder Lake laptops using IPU6 for their web camera not having out-of-the-box / fully open-source driver support. Thus now left to hope for some fundamental change in 2023.
But if you find your hands on such an Intel laptop relying upon an IPU6 camera, there are patches in the works to at least make it easier building that Intel IPU6 driver code atop a mainline kernel. Red Hat engineer Hans de Goede, who is known for his wonderful contributions improving consumer hardware support on Linux, has sent out a set of improvement patches. The patches make it so that the mainline int3472 driver code will work with the sensor drivers bundled with the out-of-tree IPU6 driver code. The goal is to simply make it easier for Intel's out-of-tree driver to work with standard mainline distribution kernels. Right now the kernels need a patch for a couple small changes rather than just being able to cleanly build the out-of-tree driver modules with DKMS or similar.
With these patches it then becomes easier building the out-of-tree Intel IPU6 driver code for DKMS and not having to worry about any other kernel changes. Hans also noted in that patch message that he is working on hopefully being able to upstream the IPU6 sensor driver code to mainline while still for the heart of the IPU6 driver code it remains this big and unfortunate mess.