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Make hardware vendors love open source

Open Source software has been a major boon for hardware vendors in the last few years. Billions of dollars have been spent on hardware that runs open source software. So the big question is why so many vendors don't provide open source drivers. And what we can do about it.

From the earliest days of Linux and other FOSS projects access to the documentation allowing the community to write drivers has been a major problem. We all have seen the (often very one-sided) debates and have heard the excuses. The biggest (and most credible) one: the documentation simply doesn't exist. At today's rapid rate of innovation, fewer and fewer products actually have decent technical documentation.

So what can we do about this? Well, in order to tackle problem number 1 (no open source drivers), we can help the vendors tackle problem number 2 (there is no documentation available that would allow writing these drivers).

The talk will address some of the typical arguments that can be heard on both sides and will make suggestions how to frame a conversation with hardware vendors, including a number of examples where this has worked to either get good documentation or (more likely) "documentation by proxy".

It will also talk about some of the other obstacles that sometimes prevent open source drivers (fear for your IP, fear of legal risks, competitive issues).

The goal of the presentation is to give more developers the right tools and arguments when talking to hardware vendors about open source drivers.

Project: not specific to a project 


Dirk Hohndel

Dirk has been an active developer and contributor in the Linux space since its earliest days. Among other roles, he worked as Chief Technology Officer of SuSE and as Vice President of The XFree86 Project, Inc. Dirk joined Intel in 2001. He works in the Software and Solutions Group and focuses on the technology direction of Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. He is active in many open source organizations, various program committees and advisory boards. Dirk holds a Diploma in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Würzburg, Germany. He lives in Portland, OR.

Dirk Hohndel

Dirk has been an active developer and contributor in the Linux space since its earliest days. Among other roles, he worked as Chief Technology Officer of SuSE and as Vice President of The XFree86 Project, Inc. Dirk joined Intel in 2001. He works in the Software and Solutions Group and focuses on the technology direction of Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. He is active in many open source organizations, various program committees and advisory boards. Dirk holds a Diploma in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Würzburg, Germany. He lives in Portland, OR.

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