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Government // Enterprise Architecture
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4/9/2008
10:51 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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VIA'S Turn To Open Up

Slowly, more and more hardware manufacturers are getting clued-in on the idea that open source drivers will help both them and their customers.  Now VIA's stepping up to start offering driver source code for many of their current chipsets.  Pop the champagne!

Slowly, more and more hardware manufacturers are getting clued-in on the idea that open source drivers will help both them and their customers.  Now VIA's stepping up to start offering driver source code for many of their current chipsets.  Pop the champagne!

Later this month, VIA's official Linux site will go live (there's nothing there yet, but check back), offering "drivers, technical documentation, source code, and information regarding the VIA CN700, CX700/M, CN896, and the new VIA VX800 chipsets, with plans to add official forums and support for more products later on in the year."  The promises go on to include the ability to support a broad range of features for those chipsets, scheduled releases that mesh with existing Linux updates, and a bug-tracking system.

One of the first things that leaps to mind about all this is how it will benefit the ultra-low-end PC market, since VIA chipsets and processors are used broadly in those kinds of devices.  With tools like these at their disposal, any company that wanted to make its own entry-level Linux machine would find it a whole lot easier to do so -- they now have that much more hardware to choose from.  There's also the hobbyist / hacker angle -- get a VIA-based motherboard, download the drivers, and get tinkering.

This brings back to mind what's been happening with ATI and nVidia -- or in the case of the latter, what's not been happening.  While ATI has been slowly making good on its promises to deliver hardware specs for its video cards to the open source community, nVidia has remained mum on any such offerings -- although according to an article on Phoronix, that might change sometime soon.  I'm hoping it does, as nVidia's closed binary drivers have been a massive thorn in my side when running Linux on a variety of machines.

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