[Desktop_architects] Drivers -- below the OS?

Dave Jones davej at redhat.com
Fri Aug 3 17:07:00 PDT 2007

On Fri, Aug 03, 2007 at 06:45:23PM -0500, Miller, Marc wrote:
 > I recently came across an article claiming that virtualization "liberates"
 > the OS from the hardware, basically implying that the hypervisor can now
 > contain all of the drivers and that the OS just needs to have a standard
 > abstraction layer for accessing the true driver involved.  
 > Funny, I thought the OS's job was to manage the hardware so that the
 > applications wouldn't have to.  It's almost like outsourcing:  in DOS,
 > applications had to know what graphics card, printer, mouse, etc. you were
 > using.  Linux and Windows standardized this by making device management part
 > of its job.  (and yes, UNIX already did this)  now hardware management is
 > going down another level of the stack.
 > Of course, this shift in thinking hits at about the same time that drivers
 > have become a hot topic for Linux.  Hardware vendors don't want to have to
 > provide support to OEMs for several versions of the driver (Red Hat, SUSE,
 > Ubuntu, etc.), some hardware vendors are reluctant to reveal their code (for
 > a range of reasons), and Linux kernel developers are reluctant to
 > standardize the API.
 > If driver management becomes the role of the hypervisor or even of the
 > firmware and there is no "host" operating system to speak of, will Linux
 > drivers still matter?

Of course.  Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone wants or needs
virtualisation.  The performance hit of that extra layer of abstraction
well never completely go away regardless of how many shiny new features
each generation of CPU gains.

Why would I possibly want to use up a bunch of memory, and CPU for
functionality I have absolutely no use for, whilst adding another
potential source of bugs ?



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