KS2007: The distributor panel
Posted Sep 7, 2007 18:23 UTC (Fri) by mrshiny
In reply to: KS2007: The distributor panel
Parent article: KS2007: The distributor panel
The thing is, ABI changes don't need to be forbidden, they should just happen less frequently. With the modern 2.6 kernel, EVERY SINGLE RELEASE can potentially contain ABI changes. At least in the 2.0/2.2/2.4 days there were more guarantees of stability for the lifetime of the kernel. This could be enough to get drivers out the door and into customer hands and simultaneously into the tree.
As another article mentioned, even if a vendor gets their driver into the tree it might be months or years before this driver gets into customer hands. In the meantime, for anyone currently running Linux, the driver may as well not exist because basically nobody runs kernel.org kernels. The only option is if the vendor backports the driver to popular kernels, of which there are dozens.
People keep comparing ABI stability to Windows, but they forget some things: 1. Windows isn't necessarily ABI-compatible from release to release, but it is supposed to be for the lifetime of one release including service packs.
2. Even if Windows maintains driver ABI forever, Linux doesn't need to do the same thing. But right now there is no ABI and not even a stable API (i.e. even recompiling the code may not work). Despite GregKH's arguments to the contrary I still think the kernel devs have made a mistake in abandoning API/ABI stability. We don't need to keep bad APIs or bugs around forever, but _some_ stability would go a long way.
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