Sarah Sharp, a self-styled "geekess" and Linux developer at Intel's Open Source Technology Center who has recently been working on the Linux USB subsystem, announced on her blog that support of USB 3.0 will soon be integrated into the Linux kernel. This makes Linux the first operating system to support the standard. If you can't wait and have the expertise necessary, she includes instructions on how to get USB 3.0 support in Linux now.
According to Ankika Kehrer, "[t]he basic specifications for USB 3.0 show it to have a transfer rate of 5.0 Gbps. The standard was announced in November 2008 by the USB Implementers Forum, Inc. [The] Board of directors of the Forum are represented by companies such as NEC, HP, Microsoft and Intel (which has the current chairmanship)."
Sharp writes, "I'm working with Keve Gabbert (the OSV person in my group at Intel) to make sure that Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Red Hat pick up the xHCI driver. Advanced users can always compile their own kernel on a standard distro install." Given that her driver is already queued to appear in Kernel 2.6.31, Linux aficionados who aren't keen to compile their own kernel should be able to enjoy the new feature from September of this year in kernel and distro updates from their favourite sources.
Intel is one of the foremost corporate contributors to Linux and open source, and this is just one more example of the work the company and its employees like Sarah Sharp are doing to promote the development of free hardware drivers and of free software more generally.
Sharp concludes, "This is a giant project that I've been working on for the past year and a half. It's gratifying to see the code finally released, and exciting to know that hardware is on its way."
[Edit: The link to Ankika Kehrer's story above has been corrected to note its original source (Linux Pro Magazine).]