Linux Has A New Firewire IEEE-1394 Maintainer - Intends To Maintain Support To 2029

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 27 April 2023 at 07:00 AM EDT. 27 Comments
It's likely been years since many of you have heard of Firewire and some readers likely never had the opportunity to use it. The Firewire interface was great back in the day and during the early period of digital video cameras, but modern versions of USB and Thunderbolt are far faster, allow longer cable distances, and numerous other advantages. While Firewire hasn't seen much activity in years and can be outpaced by USB 3.0 and beyond, there is a new Firewire subsystem maintainer for the Linux kernel and he intends to keep at it for the next six years.

The IEEE-1394 "Firewire" subsystem hasn't seen much activity in years given the diminishing uses for Firewire hardware besides some limited audio applications. The most recent Firewire Linux news on Phoronix was from last year when Linux 6.1 dropped the driver for high speed serial/TTY over Firewire.

Takashi Sakamoto has volunteered to step up and oversee the Firewire subsystem. He commented in his first pull request for taking over maintainership starting with Linux 6.4:
"Its main purpose is to prepare for my future work by taking over maintainership from Stefan Richter. I have plans to work on several items; e.g. packet processing in workqueue context instead of tasklet.

As you may be aware, the IEEE 1394 technology is outdated. However, we still have users. It is better to ensure a smooth transition for the users to shift to other categories of devices."

Takashi Sakamoto further elaborated in the patch where he updates the Linux maintainers file:
"I will stand for the maintainer, and work for FireWire core functions and 1394 OHCI driver, as well as sound drivers. This commit replaces the corresponding entry.

As you know, IEEE 1394 is enough legacy. I would like to schedule the end of my work in the subsystem. My effort will last next 6 years. In 2026, I will start strong announcement for users to migrate their work load from IEEE 1394 bus (e.g. by purchasing alternative devices in USB and hardening system for them), then in 2029 let me resign the maintainer and close Linux 1394 project.

My current work focuses on real time data (sampling data) transmission protocol in packet-oriented communication, thus I would provide less help to implementations for the other type of protocol; i.e. IPv4/IPv6 over IEEE 1394 bus (firewire-net), SCSI transport protocol over IEEE 1394 bus (firewire-sbp2) and iSCSI target (sbp-target)."

So if things go according to plans, the IEEE-1394 Firewire code for the Linux kernel will continue to be maintained until 2029. After its deprecation period if no one else steps up with a passion for Firewire, after that point it would likely then be dropped from the mainline Linux kernel.
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