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The kernel developers have added new features to thousands of the Linux kernel's existing drivers and integrated numerous additional drivers. This further increases the variety of hardware supported by Linux.
Enhancements to the ALSA code for HD audio codecs, a V4L/DVB driver for the Mantis TV chip, drivers for MSI laptops and drivers for newer AMD CPUs are just some of the improvements to Linux hardware support.
Linux 2.6.33 will have new and improved drivers for Wi-Fi chips by Intel, Ralink and Realtek. Several drivers for old Wi-Fi hardware have been moved to the staging area and will probably soon be discarded. New additions include various LAN chip drivers and several improvements to the network stack.
Here's one from the file of random stuff you see when you put a new machine on the upstream kernel instead of the distro kernel. USB drivers for Linux will be GPL-only with the release of the upcoming kernel 2.6.25.. USB maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman writes: "Over two years ago, the Linux USB developers stated that they believed there was no way to create a USB kernel driver that was not under the GPL. This patch moves the USB apis to enforce that decision."
Linux users want two things for their hardware: drivers; and easy access to those drivers. The first is finally happening; and now, thanks to a Dell Linux project called DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support), the other is on its way.
Customizing and building your own Linux kernel means you can add new experimental drivers, get rid of drivers you don't need, fix mistakes created by your chosen distro, and make a lean, mean and fast kernel. Akkana Peck continues her series on kernel building.
There has been a lot of talk about the Linux kernel and Open Source drivers this week. Most of it was about Microsoft that released drivers under the GPL V2 for inclusion in the Linux kernel. As pointed out by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols this was planned for a long time and will benefit Microsoft as much (if not more) than Linux.