Project Utopia

Users—what will they plug in next? Robert is making the computer make sense of hardware, so you don't have to.

Today, the Project Utopia mindset continues to foster new applications, interesting hacks and fresh projects aimed at making hardware just work. Linux distributions from Novell, Red Hat and others sport powerful HAL-based infrastructures. The GNOME Project is integrating HAL and D-BUS across the board. The Project Utopia cause is spreading beyond GNOME too, as other platforms implement HAL-based solutions in a similar vein.

Linux development has never stood still, however. Like a rabid cheetah, development sprints forward toward better, faster, simpler solutions. Support for new hardware continues to roll in, and solutions in the spirit of Project Utopia are continually implemented to provide a seamless user experience.

Cute hacks such as having your music player mute when your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone receives a call are not a dream but the reality in which we live. What cute hacks will tomorrow bring? What new hardware will we support next? What application will be halified next? Join in and answer those questions yourself!

Resources for this article: /article/8459.

Robert Love is a kernel hacker in Novell's Ximian Desktop group and the author of Linux Kernel Development (SAMS 2005), now in its second edition. He holds degrees in CS and Mathematics from the University of Florida. Robert lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



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Anonymous's picture

Oh Great - now of course everything will just work.

- And if it doesn't you can forget about trying to fix the problem by reading the documentation and editing the config file. . .

You won't be able to.

No you can just forget it.
Until this lot get bored and the next intoxicated developer gets the inspiration to take over the world.

Oh yes, f***ing great.


David Siegel's picture

Robert, you're the man!

Thank you for sharing your fascinating and inspiring story. A swell of vicarious, geeky pride rushed over me when I read the example of plugging in a USB thumbdrive and having it mount and open a Nautilus window automatically -- I wish I could have been there to witness the moment you go that working! What a killer demo.

Polling + Automagic

Dave North's picture

First, it would appear that not everyone agrees that polling is evil. Even on our laptops, hald seems to wake up the disk every second or so unless the configuration file is edited to shut it up. So far, HAL has not killed anyone in the office ... your aim to avoid polling is terrific, but there are clearly other folks muddying the water.

Second, it's good to remember to give people an easy way to turn off automagic. I'm an OS butterfly, so I also have a Mac (about which you speak in good terms). One thing that drives me nuts is my clumsy inability to find a way to get it to not start the local photo import/viewing program if I plug my camera in. I have much better stuff (some of it written by my wife) that I prefer to use, just addressing the camera as a disk. But I have to wait through iPhoto first! Annoying.

Incidentally, did you ever read Thomas More's "Utopia" (1516)? In a metaphoric way, it addresses both issues.

Go for it! I like what you're doing, and the approach you wish to take. But don't forget the "get out of jail free" key.


There is on thing i disliek

Anonymous's picture

There is on thing i disliek about the policies in howl. That is that USB devices mainly memory sticks, and floppies arnt mounted with the policy to write immediately i think this is called syncronis mode. Most users would not know about unmounting devices in Linux who have come from a Windows enviroment so the default policy should be changed for these devices.

Hardware and Making it Work

Mike Chandler's picture

This was a great article. I've been wrestling with hardware since Red Hat version 4.0 and it is amazing how long it can take to get something like a wireless network card to work. Anyone that helps make that task easier is my hero.

One suggestion, I'd love to see an article that explains how the kernel recognizes that a device has been plugged in and then decides what module to load to support that device. The inclusion of an explanation of how kernel modules are loaded would be nice too. If I build a driver into the kernel and then insert a device that is supported by that driver module will it still show up with lsmod or is that only for loadable kernel modules?