Teaching how to write device drivers

Driving Passion

Article from Issue 151/2013

maddog considers the benefits of teaching students how to write device drivers.

Recently, I was working with an “upstream” developer of Linux kernel device drivers. This particular developer was working in the media subsystem section of the kernel, where there are a LOT of device drivers because the media subsystem is either the second or third largest driver subsystem in the kernel. The developer reviewed about 3,000 patches per kernel cycle in addition to doing about 100 patches per kernel cycle himself. He was not complaining, just letting me know the work load.

In the midst of our discussions, he lamented:

Not actually knowing why Academia doesn’t contribute upstream, I would guess that writing a new driver is probably a too short project for them, as students are supposed to work on a 6-month to 2-year window, while writing a new driver takes only a few days with the proper datasheets and/ or a reference driver and a knowledgeable developer.

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