Sunday, September 12, 2004

No more Linux support...

Catching up on my reading, I've just discovered that Linux support for Philips USB webcams has been discontinued by the author. The eSTAR project has bunch of these cameras, which we use to monitor remote sites, and we bought them specifically because of the excellent hardware support provided by the Linux kernel module.

The Philips webcam kernel module made use of another binary only compression module, the author had signed an NDA with Philips, and it seems that the kernel development team had removed the hooks for this from the open code in the main module. This meant that full support for the Philips hardware was unavailable from a stock kernel, and to get full support you'd have to recompile the kernel. The author of the module didn't like this and asked for his code to be removed from the kernel tree entirely. He's also decided to throw in the towel and stop supporting the module instead of backing it out to non-core status.

To me this seems like a victory for doctrinal purity over common sense on behalf of the kernel development team. This is not a good result for anybody.

1 comment:

  1. I've been directed at a good article called "Pointless ideology?" on Linux Weekly News which argues the case for a kernel free of proprietary binary-only modules. I sympathise, but am still not entirely convinced that anyone wins, in this case at least.