[NCLUG] Intel open source drivers

Chad Perrin perrin at apotheon.com
Thu Jan 25 16:08:11 MST 2007

Driver availability seems to be one of the major problems of open source
operating system use.  In general, it has not created huge problems for
me, but the fact that it creates problems at all is certainly
suboptimal.  Once a capable, open source driver is developed, however,
it tends to end up being used to make open source operating systems
"just work", with no hassles over installing the drivers -- so there's
an upside, as long as there are adequate open source drivers for your

Thinking about the fact that Intel is actually going out of its way to
provide open source drivers for 3D accelerated graphics adapters and
wireless network adapters (two of the areas where driver availability is
at its worst in end-user implementations of open source OSes) makes me
wonder exactly what effect this tactic is having on the hardware market
for open source OSes.  I still mostly only see discussions of free unix
users discussing Radeon and GeForce graphics adapters, and the
advisability and methods of installing the vendors' proprietary drivers.
Similarly, any time people ask for advice on wireless hardware in LUG
lists and similar fora, the answer always seems to be that the querent
should seek out Prism or Atheros chipset wireless adapters (though I
imagine that will grow to include Broadcom chipsets as the availability
of open source drivers for Broadcom chipsets becomes more widely

Is there anyone out there that actively seeks out Intel chipsets for 3D
accelerated graphics adapters and wireless networking adapters, for
purposes of more easily getting full functionality and/or supporting the
only major hardware vendor providing open source drivers for these
products?  I wonder why I don't hear more about it, if so.  I wonder why
not, if not.

CCD CopyWrite Chad Perrin [ http://ccd.apotheon.org ]
"There comes a time in the history of any project when it becomes necessary
to shoot the engineers and begin production." - MacUser, November 1990

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