out of tree
Posted Aug 3, 2009 4:47 UTC (Mon) by mikov
In reply to: out of tree
Parent article: A tempest in a tty pot
What happens when you no longer support that hardware? What happens if your company goes bankrupt, reduces in size, etc, and can no longer support the out-of-tree driver? You then end up in a situation where users cannot ever upgrade their kernel because your out-of-tree driver is no longer being upgraded.
Well, since the out-of-tree drivers still must be GPL, if the hardware manufacturer doesn't want to support it, anybody else can do it. Nothing changes in that respect. A stable API gives us best of both worlds.
I worked for a company that has an out-of-tree driver. We ended up only officially supporting quite an old kernel. This screwed over customers that needed a newer kernel (typically for newer power management features)
I completely agree that, as things are currently, an out-of-tree driver is a lot of work to maintain. That's precisely why I am arguing for a stable API. Then ideally an out-of-tree driver would work with any kernel. If there happen to be driver API changes (realistically those can't be avoided) they will be formally versioned and documented so porting will be routine.
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