Promepis has to do porting work beyond Linux 2.6.7
This article talks about a company having to “fix” some drivers because of changes in micro-releases of the Linux kernel.
“MEPIS was slow to introduce a newer kernel due to instabilities caused by restrictive policy and code changes introduced by the kernel team after 2.6.7,” Woodford says. “The changes have raised the bar for Linux distro developers, because it is necessary to recode some third party drivers and abandon others, including the unfortunate loss of the Philips WebCam driver.”
It’s all well and good to point out just how much hardware is supported, but if you are going to annoy the folks who make the drivers for the hardware like this, how long are you going to keep support for them all?
For various reasons some vendors elect to keep their code proprietry. You know what? They have a right to make that decision. It comes down to the question, do you want support for the hardware or not? The crusade for having only open sourced drivers link with the kernel is well and good, but does not take many company’s business processes into account. There comes a point when ideology simply gets in the way of practicality. I think we’re starting to see it here. I hope that common sense starts to break out as a result.
It’s worth noting that the only time that vendors need to do a recompile or modification for a driver for Solaris is at the minor release level (i.e. 5.9 – 5.10). Micro releases (e.g. 2.5 – 2.5.1) and patches (unless we screw up) do not change the interfaces. Many vendors who find this a pleasant change.