Greg's Kernel Report: Android Drivers to Be Dropped, Same Possible Fate for Microsoft Hyper-V

Dec 24, 2009

Kernel developer and Novell coworker Greg Kroah-Hartman manages new drivers in a separate tree for the Linux drivers project. He most recently reported that a few projects will have to depart from Kernel 2.6.33, among them also Google.

In his blog, Kroah-Hartman announced systematically which drivers will be adopted in the staging tree and which will have to be dropped. A driver would likely be removed because it:

  • Proved itself worthy and will be promoted to the main kernel tree.
  • Has not proved itself worthy or isn't actively maintained, so will be dropped altogether.

Greg had already warned in earlier blogs that the staging tree was not a "dumping ground for dead code" and that he would remove drivers that don't have caretakers to merge them into the main kernel code.

Kernel 2.6.33 is now to be a first case study to Greg's warning. Google's introduced Android code was deemed to be without a maintainer, thus a candidate for removal. The same fate would also apply to the dst distributed storage driver that Greg says no developer is currently maintaining and is hardly being used.

Also on Greg's good-bye list are a few drivers for very old wireless hardware (arlan, netwave, strip and wavelan) and Microsoft's hv Hyper-V driver. Despite Microsoft's free release under GPLv2 of the hv code in July, Greg claims no more work had been done on it. In both cases, the drivers are destined for removal by Kernel 2.6.35. Other drivers are slated for removal even earlier, in 2.6.34. In all of this, Kroah-Hartman is appealing for maintainers to prevent more of this from happening.

Apart from the bad news, the Linux driver project staging tree has had some encouraging development. A few new drivers will make it into 2.6.33 without any further disclaimer. Among them:

  • ramzswap -- Compressed RAM driver
  • rtl819u -- Wireless driver for Ralink
  • samsung-laptop -- Special driver for the Samsung N128 laptop
  • batman-adv -- Network protocol driver
  • dt3155 -- Frame-grabber hardware driver
  • sm7xx -- Another frame-grabber driver

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