Linux 6.4 Slated To Start Removing Old, Unused & Unmaintained PCMCIA Drivers

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 11 March 2023 at 12:00 AM EST. 47 Comments
Queued up ahead of the Linux 6.4 cycle this spring is removing all of the PCMCIA "char" drivers as part of a broader effort to remove PCMCIA socket and card driver code where there is no apparent users remaining.

Greg Kroah-Hartman yesterday queued char: pcmcia: remove all the drivers into char-misc-next ahead of the Linux 6.4 cycle kicking off in two months. The commit by SUSE's Jiri Slaby explains:
These char PCMCIA drivers are buggy and receive only minimal care. It was concluded, that we should try to remove most pcmcia drivers completely. Let's start with these char broken one.

This follows a kernel discussion back from October over the status and way forward for PCMCIA support within the Linux kernel. One of the leading paths forward is on keeping around socket and card drivers where there are apparent users but to begin removing unused drivers over the coming releases. This stops short of removing PCMCIA card support in its entirety.

Old PCMCIA PC Card for WiFi

Veteran kernel developer Arnd Bergmann also went on to recently add on the kernel mailing list, "The two important use cases that I see for drivers/pcmcia arecardbus devices on old laptops, which work with normal PCI device drivers, and CF card storage for embedded systems. If we can separate the two by moving native cardbus to drivers/pci/hotplug but drop support for 16-bit PCMCIA devices in cardbus slots, this will hopefully get a lot easier."

The Omnikey Cardman 4000 driver, Omnikey Cardman 4040 driver, SCR24X Chip Card Interface driver, and SyncLink PC Card support are the drivers affected by this initial removal queued ahead of Linux 6.4. So like these PCMCIA char drivers, other unused PCMCIA driver code is expected to get gutted out of the mainline kernel in the coming releases but PCMCIA card support in its entirety will not be lost at this time.

Some of the PCMCIA device drivers on the likely chopping block can be found at the bottom of this mailing list post.
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