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Linux Community Takes On Vista With Free Driver Development Service

In a move that could better-position their open source operating system as a more viable desktop alternative to Microsoft's newly released Windows Vista, the Linux kernel community is offering to develop Linux-compatible device drivers free of charge for all hardware companies, according to a blog posted Tuesday by a well-known Linux developer.

Under the plan, a manufacturer of, say, video cards could submit specifications to the Linux kernel community and its members will create a driver for the device that the manufacturer can ship with the product or users can download. "That's right, the Linux kernel community is offering all companies free Linux driver development," said Greg Kroah-Hartman, in his blog entry.

Kroah-Hartman is the Linux community-sanctioned kernel maintainer for the PCI, USB, IC, driver core, and the sysfs kernel subsystems. He also is the maintainer of the linux-hotplug and udev projects.

According to his blog, hardware vendors that submit their specifications will receive "a complete and working Linux driver that is added to the main Linux kernel source tree. The driver will be written by some of the members of the Linux kernel developer community (over 1,500 strong and growing). This driver will then be automatically included in all Linux distributions, including the 'enterprise' ones."

Kroah-Hartman doesn't state the motive behind the offer. However, the program could help computer users overcome a major barrier to switching from Microsoft operating systems such as Windows XP and Windows Vista to Linux -- the lack of commercially available device drivers. Drivers create the necessary links between hardware devices and the operating system running the computer on which the devices reside or are connect to.