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Posted Jan 28, 2013 12:25 UTC (Mon) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167)
In reply to: Maturity? by robert_s
Parent article: Ubuntu considers “huge” change that would end traditional release cycle (ars technica)

Yes, they did, but that just brings us back to the same question. ie Why UVC standard webcams, but custom drivers for DVB?

In the past I have given the same advice to people that rahulsundaram mentions below, I'm aware of how this came about and there are plenty of examples, Microsoft also effectively mandated AC97 and HDA, and I think they had some influence on the AHCI situation. But again, why these things and not everything else?

Did somebody at Microsoft consciously say "Oh, we need to standardise webcams, but DVB doesn't matter" ? I'm guessing no. So how did we get here, and what can we do to improve things?

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Posted Jan 28, 2013 16:17 UTC (Mon) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Most webcams now ship built-in to computers and so compatibility with the Windows logo program is important. Most DVB devices don't.


Posted Jan 29, 2013 16:08 UTC (Tue) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

That would almost make sense as a reason, except that also built-in to computers are loads of NICs, which still don't have class compatibility even though they've been around since the metaphorical stone age of ISA cards

The driver for something like a Realtek Gigabit Ethernet chip slapped onto a mid-range home PC is nothing very clever and gives no signs that the hardware is clever either (not to say I could build one, I suck at digital electronics and am a danger to myself and others with a soldering iron).

Having a class driver for NICs (even just for wired NICs) would make a lot of people's lives easier, probably even Microsoft's but it hasn't happened even as NICs went from an obscure add-on card you could buy from a specialist to a standard piece of equipment that draws attention for being absent from devices like the MacBook Air.


Posted Jan 29, 2013 16:14 UTC (Tue) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

The low-end NIC market's mostly collapsed down to a handful of vendors capable of producing reasonable drivers. The same's not really true of the webcam market, which up until recently was still full of random mixtures of bridges and sensors with whatever driver the vendor either found somewhere on the internet or got out of the cheapest contractor they could fine. So I suspect there was (a) rather more incentive to go after webcams, and (b) nobody big enough to launch any kind of organised pushback against Microsoft.


Posted Jan 30, 2013 13:57 UTC (Wed) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

OK, I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced but it's at least plausible. This does mean that disappointingly the way forward for more class compliance could be to encourage the existence of some really miserably bad Ethernet chipsets and associated (Windows) drivers so that Microsoft are driven to mandate a class standard for (say) wired Ethernet just to make the screaming stop.

Most of the utterly terrible decisions seem to have already been tried (explicit polling even when idle, PIO data transfers, making the driver do lots of bit-shuffling in software, even physical hardware that claims to be 64-bit but disregards the top 32 bits silently has been tried already) so I'm not sure what we'd have to do to really screw things up, but I have confidence that somewhere at an IHV there is a programmer who is stupid enough to invent something so terrible it can bring about the bright new world that I hope for.


Posted Jan 30, 2013 14:36 UTC (Wed) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

It seems to me that there really isn't enough undercutting room in Ethernet card prices any more for a new really terrible, but cheaper-than-status-quo, chip to make any inroads.

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