The current policy of Linux kernel maintainers is kernel developer friendly perhaps but neither user-friendly nor device driver developer friendly. I think it is impractical and nonscalable to forever carry around numerous historical driver code for all the old and obsolete devices in the kernel. I am not a kernel dev but all the usual arguments against stable ABI/API seem unconvincing to me.
I wish the kernel devs force themselves to think hard on designing a stable driver model and an API instead of going their merry ways. A driver model and API designed cleanly and thoughtfully can be published as stable. OS theory and practice is already mature enough to be able to do that. A new stable version can be published every 3 years for example. Such documented stable interface would help both open-source driver authors as well as proprietary driver authors. It should not impede innovation. Of course Linux kernel devs write code for fun and so they don't feel responsible for user's plights as much.
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