RFC: Free Software community-wide Hardware Database project

Zenaan Harkness zen at freedbms.net
Mon Jun 14 13:00:08 PDT 2004

I am launching a kernel-, os-, distro- and vendor- neutral, free
software, community-wide hardware database project.

This is a reqeust for comment, feedback, constructive criticism, etc.

Key points as I see them:

* Provide a single point of contact for hardware manufacturers,
resellers, end users, distribution and driver developers to
submit hardware information regarding how hardware devices
relate to various free software projects, be they kernels,
operating systems/ distributions, drivers, support libraries,

* The key focii of the project are:
 - hardware manufacturers
 - single point of contact
 - free software (the superset of DFSG, FSF/GNU and OSI)
 - neutrality

* Key classes of users:
1) end users
2) manufacturers
3) driver developers (at least those independant from class 2)
4) distro- and os- developers and vendors

* Neutrality:
Operating System Neutral
Kernel Neutral
Distribution Neutral
Vendor Neutral

* Manual Submission:
** Manual submission will produce better submissions (the hwdb team
can engage the submitter where required (perhaps nearly always) to
try to get more and better information.

** As we build the DB, manual submissions will give us the scope to
easily and readily modify/ fine-tune the schema as needed.

** The submission interface will never be broken, incomplete or
"down for maintenance" since it's just "send us an email".

** We can launch immediately, and with a robust interface.
Ie. we won't waste time having to get the software right
before we are able to launch.

** A robust submission interface is particularly important for
manufacturers - being the primary target here (in my mind) we want
to _never_ waste their time and _always_ have submissions working.

** No elitism over whether we use PHP or Python, GTK or QT
(OK, that's probably stretching it a bit :)

* Centralization:
We assume that it is in the best interests of each Free Software
Unix-like operating system distribution, each kernel (eg. Linux, *BSD,
HURD) and in the best interests of the end users, to have a centralised/
unified location for hardware information.

This centralization is so that manufacturers have a single point of
contact to submit their own hardware information to, however much or
little (eg. perhaps even just contact information) that might be.

And now for those still hanging in and want a little more verbosity/

First and foremost is to simplify the job of the manufacturers:

For Microsoft, they have a single point of contact.

Contrast this with the numerous HCLs (hw compat lists), hardware sites
(such as www.linux1394.org and linuxprinting.org), kernels and
distributions, such as Debian, Red Hat, *BSD (with apparently >60
officially supported sub architectures) and a myriad of others.

As a manufacturer, it is simply impossible to (generally) go anywhere
near supporting all these free software projects.

And so it is in the best interests of each of us individually, and
collectively, if we can simplify the job of the manufacturer.

As a manufacturer of a widget, if I have a single, commonly known place
to go to provide technical and contact information, as much or as little
as I desire (even perhaps just bus IDs and product names), then I might
actually do so.

We, as a community together, might just have a hope of keeping up to
date as compared with the proprietary os's out there, namely MSW*.

Thus, The Project (TM).

Being os-, vendor-, distribution- and kernel- neutral will attract many
otherwise disparate parties within our community, such as the BSDs and
the GNU/Linux distros, driver developers, etc. And of course,

The plan is to integrate to the greatest and most seamless extent
possible with existing Distribution-specific HCLs and thereby due to
this centralization provide a richer facility than is otherwise possible

Thank you in advance, and regards to all,

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