In a move that can only help to improve the Linux experience, provided enough hardware vendors take them up on the offer, the folks who develop the Linux kernel are offering to develop hardware drivers free of charge:
Drivers created by the kernel developers at the request of hardware vendors will be included in the Linux kernel source tree so that they are included in mainstream Linux distributions and made available to end users. According to Kroah-Hartman, the offer is available for all sorts of hardware ranging “from USB toys to PCI video devices to high-speed networking cards.”
In order to take advantage of this service, developers need only send specifications to the kernel development community and provide contact information for an engineer. The kernel developers are even willing to develop drivers without direct access to the hardware. Kroah-Hartman also states that the newly-formed Linux Foundation (previously Open Source Development Labs) will provide a legal framework for companies that require kernel developers to sign NDAs.
Here’s hoping the hardware makers out there take them up on this offer.