When the Philips webcam driver maintainer requested that driver's removal,
the kernel developers complied. The fact remains, however, that the code
for the core driver was released under the GPL; it remains out there for
those who wish to make use of it. The proprietary "pwcx" decompression
code is another story; it has been withdrawn and is unlikely to return.
But the GPL code could, perhaps, come back.
The original maintainer questions the value of the GPL-only code. Without
the decompression module, the camera can only be used in a very
low-resolution mode. There are a couple of reasons for wanting that code
back, however. One of the more interesting ones was posted by a member of the LavaRnd project. It seems that a
Philips webcam, with the lens cap in place, is a good source of entropy for
random number generators. In fact, the low-resolution stream is even
better than the full-resolution version for this application. The LavaRnd
folks would like to see the GPL driver back - and they have even
volunteered to maintain it.
The other use for the GPL driver would be as a starting point while the
protocol is reverse engineered and a completely free driver is created.
There has been some speculation that this reverse engineering would be
relatively easy - but it will remain speculation until somebody produces
In any case, the PWC driver is likely to come back in some form; USB
maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman has stated
that a conversation is in progress with Nemosoft (the original author) and
that a patch is forthcoming. Getting a driver which only supports the
low-resolution mode is unlikely to please many PWC owners, but it is a
start. If the end result of all this is, eventually, a 100% free driver
supporting full functionality, everybody will be better off.
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