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    SubjectRe: UDI and Politics (was Re: Linux, UDI and SCO.)
       Date: 	Sat, 19 Sep 1998 15:12:55 -0500 (CDT)
    From: "Edward S. Marshall" <>

    I think this is something this discussion has been seriously missing;
    input from some of those who really will be deciding this:

    - Linus Torvalds and other kernel developers (Alan's been involved a bit,

    Well, not that anything I saw is official in any way, but I've been
    keeping quite because I've been amazed how stupid most of the UDI
    discussion has been.

    Let's back off and have a fresh perspective on things.

    First of all, from looking at the UDI spec, UDI drivers will likely not
    be as performant as "native" drivers. So there will still be incentives
    for people who want device drivers for Linux to actually go and write
    them, and for those people to pester manufactuers for specifications.
    (Or reverse-engineer or disassemble the UDI driver for programming
    information. :-)

    Secondly, UDI drivers will almost certainly be loadable kernel modules,
    using a fixed, and well defined interface. Linus (as the main copyright
    holder of the Linux kernel) has already said that loadable kernel
    modules which restrict themselves to the kernel interface as defined by
    /proc/ksyms are considered separate entities, and are not covered by the
    GPL copyright --- just as user programs which use the normal kernel
    system calls are not considered part of the kernel, but using normal
    kernel services. So all of the copyright arguments are also a red

    Furthermore, what do you think the APM code in the Linux kernel does?
    It makes calls to the APM BIOS! Or the Linux Bootstrap code, which
    makes calls to the system BIOS. The System BIOS and the APM BIOS are
    not GPL'ed on most systems --- indeed, source code is usually not
    available in any form. Why is this not a problem?

    Well, let's think about it. The System BIOS and APM BIOS have a
    well-defined, and standardized interface. When you buy a computer, it
    comes with BIOS installed on ROM's as a matter of course. So the fact
    that the System BIOS and the APM BIOS are not free doesn't get people's
    way, and they probably simply don't think about it.

    Similarly, suppose now that network cards start coming with UDI drivers
    on a diskette as a matter of course. The UDI device driver uses a
    standardized, well-defined interface --- the UDI interface. It really
    isn't all that different from the Linux kernel calling system BIOS
    routines, or the APM routines.

    So fundamentally, I don't have a problem with the UDI concept --- just
    as I don't have a problem with purchasing commercial software to run on
    my Linux box. I am not an Open Source fanatic. All other things being
    equal, I prefer Open Source, of course, but if a Open Source product
    doesn't exist, and there is a good propietary solution available, I will
    use it.

    The big question, though is the quality of the UDI reference
    implementation which SCO is planning on writing. WIll it be clean
    enough so that Linus is willing to include it in the mainline kernel?
    That's the $64,000 question. If it's big, ugly, etc., then the answer
    will be no. And of course, the UDI reference implementation which will
    actually *allow* the Linux kernel to take advantage of UDI drivers will
    have to be GPL'ed, since that *will* be linked with the kernel in a very
    fundamental way. But as far as I can tell, SCO understands that.

    - Ted

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