A Desktop Linux idea: modulized open hardware database for the linux kernel config
From: andreas . thalhammer
Date: Sun Nov 03 2013 - 11:04:35 EST
I am a Linux Desktop user since around 2001. Doing the math, thatâs more than
Having watched http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjRAKuis7T8 (LinuxCon 2013, Dirk
Hohndel and Linus Torvalds on stage) I decided to share an idea I had to make
kernel building easier for computer end-users:
How aboud a free and open hardware database for configuring Linux?
My idea would make a very simple to get kernel configuration for a modulized
hardware and feature base. It should be some kind of open for everybody
database in which everyone may participate.
(This would off course only be of use for power users or developers. Regular
users will use stock kernels from their Linux distribution anyway. BTW, I use
My computer is a PC. The motherboard is an MSI 890FXA-GD70, it has an AMD
Phenom II X6 1090T in the CPU slot. So this setup would be the basic entry to
look for, which will provide a kernel configurtion for this specific hardware.
For example, the module for the Fintek F71889ED Super IO Sensor has to be
selected (CONFIG_SENSORS_F71882FG) as well as CONFIG_SENSORS_K10TEMP for the
I know lm_sensors has a tools for that already: sensors-detect. But not
everything is covered there, is there?
Then I would also combine this config with a config module for my graphics
card. It is a Radeon HD 6770, so readonkms has to be selected properly. Some
kernel parameters may also be wise, such as video=radeondrmfb, radeon.aspm=1
It should also be possible to combine this config with a config module for my
monitor. This will show that the resolution of this monitor is 1680x1050.
Unfortunately this resultution is not part of the VESA BIOS, so the kernel
command-line parameter video=radeondrmfb will be expanded by 1680x1050-32@60.
Some basic profiles may define how the PC will be used: i.e. as a file server,
as a Desktop conputer or as a gaming computer. A "cutting edge with all the
new features" profile may select everything that is usable for this computer.
Every ISA/EISA/VLB/PCI/AGP/PCIe expansion card can and will add some config
settings to the big kernel configuration. I.e. if you had a DVB-TV card or
A basic "All USB-end-user-devices" config module for all possible USB devices
may select everything except those self-made stuff, like a thermal probe. On
the other hand, specific stuff should be allowed too. I.e. the Digitus
Cardreader All-in-one, USB 3.0 (DA-70330) â is a specific reader module
In the end there would be a hardware database, maybe combined with a wiki,
that includes developer information like hardware addresses and such as well
as user reports and kernel configuration modules for that hardware.
Jumping to a newer kernel will automatically set the new/changed
CONFIG_SOMETHING for the selected profile.
This would also be handy for Laptops and very narrow configured hardware such
as Apple computers (my Power Mac G4 for example).
A tool for this could go into the kernel sources. It would detect the hardware
present in the system using everything that is available (e.g. lspci) and show
a configuration menu (make config-alike) that will enable the user to select
or deselect specific hardware config modules and profiles (i.e. "file
Compiling a new kernel will then not result in searching the whole kernel
config for new or changed options like it is now (just recently I had to
change video=radeonfb to video=radeonkmsfb in my GRUB config).
For kernel developers this could also be a very useful tool, because users can
point to the specific hardware that makes troubles on Linux. And, like it is
in a community, developers may be able to reach users willing to participate
in testing new patches for fixing these troublesâ
This is just an idea. Now itâs out there â do with it whatever you like. The
idea is hereby released under the GPL-2 :-)
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