The Linux Kernel Device Model

Linux kernel development follows a simple guideline that code should be only as complex as absolutely necessary. This design philosophy has made it easy for thousands of people to contribute code, especially in the realm of device drivers: the kernel supports hundreds of devices on over a dozen peripheral buses.

This bottom-up approach to development has provided a great deal of benefit for users of typical systems in the last decade. However, as Linux progresses into new niches and more requirements are imposed on operating systems of modern hardware, lack of unification among device subsystems poses some serious roadblocks.

The new Linux Device Model (LDM) is an effort to provide a set of common interfaces for device subsystems to use. This foundation is intended to enhance the kernel's support for modern platforms and devices, which require a more unified approach to devices.

This paper discusses the attributes of the LDM and the issues they are designed to resolve. It describes the interfaces in a bottom-up approach; in the same manner in which they were devloped. It also discusses the current progress of the effort, and some potential uses of it in the future.


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