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Re: How to provide drivers to the installation

Hi Frans,

Frans Pop <aragorn@tiscali.nl> writes:

> Very nice to see interest from hardware manufacturers.

Of course we have a lot of interest in Linux. At the moment we have
about 3000 systems per month that ship with Linux, not counting the 
systems that go into Linux related projects. And we get a lot of
questions about Debian from all over Europe. Or about Debian based
distributions, e.g. this problem with the SATA controller will hit
us in a project for the city of Vieanna that wants to run their
Debian based WIENUX distribution on that machine. 

> One concern I have personally about driver disks is that disk drives seem 
> to be disappearing rapidly from systems, so you would really need to 
> support various alternative loading methods (floppy, usb, net).

Yes, we also have platforms that don't provide a normal floppy anymore.
In that case USB storage should work. 

> Debian policy has always been to let new drivers trickle down through 
> official channels (i.e. from kernelHQ); we fairly often do try to 
> backport new drivers into our kernels when they appear stable, but that 
> is _not_ done for kernel packages in stable, only for unstable/testing.

That I already thought. Well, the maintainers of sata_sis told me that
the earliest possible kernel will be 2.6.14 to include the necessary
patches for the new SiS southbridge. The question is how fast then 
this patch will find its way into the testing kernels at Debian.

>> Is it possible to switch to another console during 
>> installation and then do a rmmod sata_sis and insmod from a floppy?
>> Or do we need to master new installation DVDs that take care of the
>> problem?
> I think creating custom installation images is your best option ATM.

Is there any HowTo around that explains how I can create a custom
installation image? So far I always went with the images I can download.

> We had a similar request from Intel recently. You may be interested to 
> read the following threads which should give you a lot of 
> answers/pointers (the last has the fullest reply):
> - http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2005/08/msg00061.html
> - http://lists.debian.org/debian-kernel/2005/08/msg00383.html
> - http://lists.debian.org/debian-boot/2005/08/msg00429.html

Thanks for those pointers, its interesting stuff to read. 

>> And of course the other question: How do we get the patch backported
>> to the current kernel images. Wouldn't be nice if a user does an
>> apt-get install kernel-image... and then loses his hard disk access.
>> ;-)
> These are very good and important questions.
> Better support for driver updates could probably be added, maybe using the 
> new debian-volatile infrastructure. However, this is something that will 
> need very carefull thought to avoid the problems you touch on.

Sure. I will try to get some additional ressources here (so far I'm the
whole Linux team for business clients) and I would also like to see that
I get a sort of "radar" that warns me of upcoming hardware that is not
fully supported by Linux. In the case of the SiS southbridge a lot of
things went wrong, I practically got the message about the problem a
week before the systems were released... :-/ 

I guess the important message for the Debian project is that we really
get queries about that frequently. People recognize Debian as a very 
good distribution and want to run it on our hardware. And that's not
only single persons, also big organizations or schools are going for

Best regards
Dipl.-Inf. (FH) Rainer Koenig
Project Manager Linux
Business Clients
Fujitsu Siemens Computers 
Phone: +49-821-804-3321
Fax:   +49-821-804-2131

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