Frequently Asked Questions
Q: You forgot to mention the most obvious benefit to the company, "They might sell more of their devices!" How can they turn down an offer like that?
A: Good point :)
Q: How are you going to write a GPL driver by signing an NDA? Is it going to require a binary blob or some other way of obfuscating the code?
A: No, not at all. I have written many drivers after signing NDAs with companies. They are usually signed either to keep information about the device private until it is announced at a specific date, or to just keep the actual specification documents from being released to the public directly. All code created by this NDA program is to be released under the GPL for inclusion in the main kernel tree, nothing will be obfuscated at all.
Q: This is a lame publicity stunt, Linux development has always been done this way.
A: Well, the NDA program that we have set up with The Linux Foundation is new. But yes, other than that, this is exactly how Linux kernel development has been done. But it is good to point out exactly how it all works for those who are not familiar with how it works.
Q: You are putting the people who do this kind of development for a living out of a job, stop that!
A: This is just not true at all. In fact a number of people who are consultants doing this kind of development have contacted me thanking me for bringing the issue more publicity. They know that some companies really want to pay people to do development and support in order to achieve contractual issues and have some one on the hook for providing support in ways that the community can not guarantee.
Q: Are companies really going to do this?
A: Yes, already we have received a number of serious queries from companies about producing Linux drivers for their devices. More information will be available later when details are firmed up.
Q: Can you write a driver for my [insert device name here] to get it to work? It isn't made anymore and no one has the specs for it.
A: Sorry, but this project is for devices in which we have the specification and hopefully the manufacturer's support. We don't have the time or effort that is needed to reverse engineer the device on our own, sorry.
Q: Do you need developer help for this project?
A: Yes, just drop me an email and I'll add you to the list of people who have volunteered to help out. We are always glad to accept help.
Q: Are companies actually taking you up on this offer?
A: Yes, the initial response to this was amazing, a measurable number of new Linux drivers will be created thanks to this program.
Q: What about helping to get out-of-the-tree GPL drivers into the main kernel tree?
A: A number of people have offered to help out with this in the past, and all code is welcome to Linux. But we aren't going to be pulling in code to the main kernel tree without the permission of the authors.
Q: What about Printer drivers?
A: Printer drivers live in userspace, not in the kernel. Please contact the Linux Printing Project about Linux printer drivers for specific printers and for all Linux printer issues.
Q: What about the BSDs?
A: What about them? They are free to do whatever they wish, I have no input into their development at all, sorry.
Q: What about drivers for video cards?
A: Yes, we will be glad to work on the kernel side of video drivers for Linux