Intel mulls Linux Centrino support

NEW YORK--Intel likely will take a two-phase approach to providing software that Linux needs to take advantage of the processor maker's Centrino chips, an Intel executive said Wednesday.

The chipmaker likely will begin by releasing a proprietary software module, called a driver, said Will Swope, general manager of Intel's Software and Solutions Group, speaking in an interview at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here. He said he hopes the company will later offer an open-source driver, software that the general Linux programming community may scrutinize and reshape if desired. The move would mean Intel is working to ensure Linux support is on par with that of Microsoft Windows, which has had full support since the Centrino launched in March 2003.

Though Linux is not a major force on desktop and mobile computers, the lack of Centrino support has rankled Linux fans and given them little reason to spend money on Intel's premier laptop technology. Thus far Linux can use only two of Centrino's three components--the Pentium M processor itself and an accompanying chipset. Linux hasn't been able to take advantage of the third and distinguishing component, the wireless networking electronics, though Intel has written a driver to enable such support in its labs.

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