Devel Digest, Vol 38, Issue 1

Tiago Marques tiagomnm at
Wed Apr 8 18:25:38 EDT 2009

On 4/2/09, Mitch Bradley <wmb at> wrote:
> Martin Langhoff wrote:
>> On Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 3:49 PM, Mitch Bradley <wmb at> wrote:
>>> It's nice to say they should "see the light", but in my experience
>>> talking
>>> to many such companies, the fact of the matter is that it is a hard nut
>>> for
>>> them to swallow.
>> I am under the impression that the relation between the OS vendor (and
>> kernel/driver devs on the OS side) and the HW companies (with their hw
>> and driver devs) is full of hard nuts to swallow. From reading horror
>> stories around winhec, and ms bloggers making strained comments about
>> driver developers, it doesn't sound like a bed of roses :-) But, for
>> good or bad, management has gotten used to the dynamic w Redmond.
> That is absolutely correct.  Windows drivers are a total pain in the ass
> (speaking from my experience making Windows run on the XO).>
> But in compensation, once you get the driver right, or mostly so, it
> will work on hundreds of millions of machines for a few years.  By "it",
> I mean a specific binary that you can point to and say "that is the
> one".  When it stops working due to a new MS OS like Vista, you might be
> able to ignore the problem because the old product is several
> generations obsolete and you've already made your money on it.  "Sorry,
> you have to upgrade".

Which is wrong and a very good thing about Linux. If you saw the
outcry that followed when Creative labs aliented their customer base
from Vista by offering new cards or a paid upgrade for Alchemy, you
know how bad it was. I have a serious problem paying say $200 for a
sound card that will still be mostly state of the art five years down
the road but that doesn't have drivers two years after release, just
because some company only thinks about profits.

> Having done the painful-but-necessary work to service the market that is
> big enough to return a profit, there is scant motivation to swallow
> additional nuts for a much smaller amorphous market that won't stay in
> focus.
> One of Joel Spolsky's essays pointed out that to attract customers from
> an entrenched competitor, you must ruthlessly eliminate the many
> barriers that make it difficult to switch.  You must see those barriers
> from the customer's point of view; trying to impose your point of view
> on the customer just doesn't work.

Breaking APIs in the kernel, AFAIK, is more related to changing things
when security concerns arise than by will - after all, the people who
do that end up having more work with affected drivers.

There are plenty of companies that have the will to support changes.
Some because they have server related hardware, some because they
catter to the customer, like Intel, which has even contributted to
advances in Xorg. And they manage fine, more than fine. Nvidia
released 4 drivers in March, mostly to add features. Unfortunately,
most just plain like to ignore it's customers, like the above cited
Creative labs.

Best regards,
                           Tiago Marques

> I guess the main disconnect is that, for the FOSS community, the point
> of view is more important than the product.  The commercial world is
> just the opposite.
>> I am interested in discussing
>> the meatier parts of whether the commiditization that FOSS has applied
>> to sw affects hw and how some time over a beer.
> I would like that very much.  I sincerely hope that we have the
> opportunity to meet in person at some point.
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