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Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Running Linux On Intel's Sandybridge


There has been a lot of noise and criticism around Intel's new Sandybridge processors and Linux support, since the currently available Linux distributions do not support the new chips.

The current distro of Linux (Ubuntu 10.10) doesn't support Sandybridge. According to Intel, the problem relies to the architecture of the Linux OS itself. Nick Knupfer, Intel's PR manager, said that releasing new drivers is not enough to make the Sandybridge chips work on Linux.

"You see, the graphics subsystem in Linux is actually a complex web of interdependencies and all the related components all have to be updated for a new graphics hardware to work. The Linux software components called 'Mesa', the kernel, 'libdrm', 'cairo', 'libva' and 'x86-video-intel' are all the parts that have to be updated and released into the wild for this all to work. This isn't unusual, it is just the way it is," he wrote at Intel's blog.

He added that Intel cannot solve the incompatibility issue by releasing any drivers, in a manner companies such as Nvidia and AMD do for their graphics products.

"It is true that in certain cases, you can update some parts of those systems, but they rely on closed-sourced code maintained only by those companies and not the Linux community - and updating a single component can affect the rest of the system," he added.

Intel's executive added that users have to wait for the new distribution of their flavour of Linux.

There is a conversation about this topic on the Real World Tech Forums right now, and even Linus Torvalds himself - the man who had initiated the development of the Linux kernel - is dishing out advice. He describes how to compile the components yourself (as the source code is available).

The new Linux distro release will be available in April 2011, according to Linus. "Before that, you?ll have to find things like daily builds or do your own". Linus says.


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