Linux is finally starting to make inroads into mainstream computing, as evidenced by the Eee PC and the HP Mini-Note ultraportable laptops. It should come as no surprise that vendors are starting to embrace Linux with open arms, due to its low-cost of entry. VIA Technologies is the latest Linux lover with its launch of the VIA Linux Portal beta Website, intended to provide support to the open source community for development of Linux drivers for VIA-based platforms. A VIA press release stated:
"The VIA Linux Portal will initially offer graphics drivers for the VIA CN896 digital media IGP chipset for the new Ubuntu 8.04 LTS distribution. Documentation and source code for these drivers will be released over the coming weeks, with official forums and bug tracking scheduled for implementation later this year. The VIA Linux Portal will also adhere to a regular release schedule that is aligned with kernel changes and the release of major Linux distributions."
The beta site--which officially launched today--also includes a SuSe Linux Enterprise 10 SP1 driver for the VIA CN896 chipset. Other than the two drivers available for download, there is nothing else on the site yet--tabs for "Bug Tracking" and "Forum" link to pages that are still under construction. If VIA is serious about embracing the Linux community, it will have to get busy and supply more relevant content and open up the doors to public, two-way communication with the Linux Community.
VIA has a vested interest in supporting the Linux Community: VIA is known for manufacturing low-power, low-cost chips, which are well-suited for portable devices, such as the aforementioned, VIA C7-M-based HP Mini-Note 2133. The combination of low-cost chips, a "free" operating system, and a large open-source-based support community, makes for a compelling business model.
The expected release of the Intel Atom processor next month will put Intel in direct competition with VIA for the low-power processor market. Few Atom-based products have been announced yet (and Intel is staying strictly mum on that for now), but Gigabyte has announced the M912 ultraportable--which will come with either Linux or Windows XP. It's a safe bet that other Atom-based products--when announced--will come with Linux options as well.