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OpenBSD Clashes with Adaptec In Quest for Docs 367

Posted by timothy
from the not-support-you-note-they-note dept.
TrumpetPower! writes "OpenBSD developers have been asking for documentation from Adaptec for over four months. Adaptec's response has been to deliberately misunderstand what is being asked of them. A former Adaptec employee admits that the hardware is buggy and tricky to get right. So, as a result, OpenBSD 3.7 will ship without Adaptec RAID support. Personally, I'm glad that Theo isn't resting on his laurels."
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OpenBSD Clashes with Adaptec In Quest for Docs

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  • Why just OpenBSD? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dacmot (266348) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @03:58PM (#11992342)
    It would be nice if more of the Linux big names would jump on the bangwagon and lobby with companies to get open source drivers for hardware.
    • by Penguinoflight (517245) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:04PM (#11992377) Homepage Journal
      Absolutely. Open source drivers would be a beautiful gift, in this case it's actually more than what is being asked for. Adaptec is asked to release specs on their raid controllers, they chose not to.

      They are under an obligation to provide usefulness on legit architectures, but they aren't doing that. Adaptec should get over their shame of bugs, and allow the driver people at OpenBSD a chance at making things work.

      There is no general fix for this problem, often specs are released way too late. On the other hand, releasing open source drivers will open specs for the same device. These specs aren't just trade secrets, they're actually necessary for building drivers.
      • by 0racle (667029) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:08PM (#11992412)
        They are under an obligation to provide usefulness on legit architectures

        Exactly what obligation does Adaptec have?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:25PM (#11992498)
          None. Just as I have no obligation to ever buy an Adaptec piece of hardware again.
        • Exactly what obligation does Adaptec have?
          They have a financial responsibility. If they release their documentation to a "legit architecture" then they will increase their sales accordingly. In this case, a "legit architecture" would be one that would have an impact on their bottom line (which would qualify BSD and Linux).
          • Adaptec has no obligation or responsibility to anyone to provide OpenBSD or OpenBSD users anything. If they have decided it is a market they are not interested in then they simply will not have anything to do with it. Its their decision and people shouldn't begin to whine when they don't get their way.
            • by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:25PM (#11992854) Homepage
              Then companies shouldn't whine and scream "DMCA violation" when someone reverse engineers their hardware.

              Do you think the company has the right to refuse to release specs, but we don't have the right to complain or to reverse engineer them, and that they have the right to whine to the gov't if we do so.

            • by killjoe (766577) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:57PM (#11993068)
              "Its their decision and people shouldn't begin to whine when they don't get their way."

              And how else do you propose to effect change? Shut and sit down isn't going to work is it?

              Whining, boycotting, shaming, humiliating, mocking, deriding, bitching and moaning is a perfectly appropriate response to an idiot company acting in stupid ways.

              More people need to get uppity. Sitting quietly at your desk doing exactly what you are told isn't going to get you anywhere.
          • by Gid1 (23642) <tom@gi d d en.net> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:43PM (#11992598)
            That's not a "responsibility" or an "obligation". It is, however, an incentive, and should be quite a strong one at that.

            Nowadays, I purchase equipment based more on its compatibility with FreeBSD (and occasionally OpenBSD) than any other factor (incl. performance and price), as that's what it's going to be used with.

            As far as responsibility or obligation is concerned, Adaptec's got none to the Open Source community, unless you can consider it a direct failure of its responsibility to its shareholders. Just because Open Source is "fighting the good fight", doesn't mean anyone owes us anything.
        • by m50d (797211)
          A moral obligation to the users they sold the hardware to. Yes, they're not legally obliged to, but it's common decency.
        • ... not to unnecessarily push customers to choose a competitor's products, when keeping those customers costs nothing more than an e-mailed PDF or two.

        • Are they legally obligated? No. Should they do it? Yes.

          There is a good reason why, and not just because it is in their best interest to do it. They are selling hardware. They should support any large enough group that wants to use the hardware, regardless of how they want to use it. If people want to use the chip to power easy bake ovens, they should help them turn the chip into a heating element.

          Why should they? Because it is a publicly traded company. Shareholders don't care why people are handi
      • by stevew (4845)
        First let me say that I'm an ex Adaptec employee. In fact we used Linux in the mid 90's at Adaptec as X terms at home, and they have had an on-going relationship with Opensource of one sort or another for quite a long time.

        I read Doug's response. What I SAW was Adaptec saying we'll be releasing everything together in 4 months. That is when the company is going to be ready to release an SDK, and documentation will be part of that release.

        The OpenBSD guys response was "Can't you read! I want documentation N
        • by Anonymous Coward
          I now it sounds like OpenBSD wants something NOW and Adaptec isn't ready yet, but said it will release SDK in 4 months, BUT the raid hardware has been available for over a year or two now!

          So it's not unreasonable for OpenBSD or any other OS to expect reasonable documentation on how to get it running within reasonable timeframe.

          To give you an example, at our company we have been running FreeBSD for 5 years using the asr driver running Adaptec RAID 3210S (3200S before 3210S was out). As you may have noticed
        • by iamwahoo2 (594922) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @07:36PM (#11993693)
          Possibly because BSD has their own timeline? It seems to me that the OpenBSD guy was working to reach a deadline that would be beneficial to their MUTUAL customers. Adaptec did not seem to be in a hurry to support their customers. It is their choice, just like it is OpenBSD's choice not to bother supporting a companies hardware. What is amazing is that everyone seems to think that the BSD should bend over backwards for Adaptec and not the other way around. If they lose support of major OSes (opensource or not), they are going to regret not bending over backwards for their customers.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          "I read Doug's response. What I SAW was Adaptec saying we'll be releasing everything together in 4 months. That is when the company is going to be ready to release an SDK, and documentation will be part of that release."

          OK, that's fine. So customers running BSD will not purchase Adaptec RAID hardware until late-2006. Any earlier, and they'd run into problems with it being unsupported by their OS vendor.

          "The OpenBSD guys response was "Can't you read! I want documentation NOW or I'm going to take my OS
        • by rco3 (198978) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @09:22PM (#11994339) Homepage
          "...or I'm going to take my OS and go home"? What are they supposed to do, release drivers that they know don't work?

          Sounds to me like the OBSD guys said, "the drivers we've reverse-engineered aren't very stable, and we want more documentation so that we can make them stable for our existing users (of your hardware). If you won't give us that information, or persist in pretending to misunderstand what we want, then we will be unable to produce stable drivers for your hardware and we will refuse to release a driver with the instabilities we know of. We're in a hurry because our main coding time is coming up soon, and we've been asking for this for a while."

          There is nothing that requires Adaptec to provide the necessary documentation. Nor is there anything which requires the BSD guys to release a driver that they know is buggy.

          What I still don't understand is *why* Adaptec persist in refusing to allow a large, talented, motivated group of programmers to write a good driver for their hardware FOR FREE. If xBSD gets a working driver, then the other BSDs, Linux, etc. won't be far behind. Adaptec needs the server market, Unices are strong in the server market, more Unix drivers for Adaptec hardware means more people buying Adaptec hardware to run on free OS's, everybody wins! Except that Adaptec (apparently) won't play nice. How is that Theo de Raadt's fault?

          Of course, I'm not within the loop at Adaptec, and so I don't know why they won't release documentation when it's needed. Perhaps they have some blindingly brilliant reasons why they don't want to release the information necessary to write fully functional drivers. What I do know is that it can't be seen from the outside, looking in.

          In any case, I've had my share of trouble with Adaptec RAID cards under Windows. I probably wouldn't buy another one anyway.
        • The OpenBSD guys response was "Can't you read! I want documentation NOW or I'm going to take my OS and go home."

          It is a shame that you so grossly misrepresent the position of the OpenBSD people, and try to spin your ex-employer's position in a more positive light.

          The OpenBSD people have a deadline on the near horizon, and they wanted to be able to include a non-buggy version of the driver in that release. They have been asking Adaptec for help for months, but to no avail. Then, when the OpenBSD peop

        • I am neither an ex-employee of Adaptec, nor am I a developer for OpenBSD. I can say, however, that Adaptec's attitude regarding the release of THEIR documentation for THEIR hardware is pure BS. Theo was not asking for Adaptec to release their SDK early, nor was he asking for the Windows source code to the drivers for THEIR hardware. It is, after all, JUST documentation.

          The real clue to Adaptec's attitude (from the /. posting) is that THEIR hardware and THEIR drivers are quirky and problematic -- a sur
    • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @07:10PM (#11993574) Homepage
      I don't know why more developers of all kinds are not joining this effort. But when it comes to the development of the Linux kernel, I wonder how much inspiration comes from following Linus Torvalds' philosophy of favoring short-term pragmatism. Torvalds endorses using proprietary software to help maintain his fork of the Linux kernel and this choice adversely impacts the community in which he operates. As more people emulate his example, they will think it's okay to become dependant on binary drivers for all sorts of things citing some immediate convenience as in support of their behavior (not recognizing that whatever technical advantage they cite is undoubtedly temporary).

      As deservedly highly-rated as both your post and the grandparent posts are, the sentiments expressed are not the norm. There are many Slashdot sycophants who have championed buying nVidia video cards and dependence on nVidia to release the latest version of their binary-only video software.
  • by deanj (519759) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @03:59PM (#11992346)
    There's an old saying, which I think fits well here.

    "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence." - Napolean

  • by michelcultivo (524114) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:00PM (#11992354) Homepage Journal
    When the hardware vendors will release all the specifications of their hardware to the OpenSource teams? It's so difficult to do so?
    "I'll not release my documentation because others business can get all of my secrets and my bugged harware."
    • I'll not release my documentation because others business can get all of my secrets and my bugged harware.

      Therein lies the fundamental misunderstanding... releasing specs does *NOT* give a competitor an advantage. What good does it do LSI to know that Adaptec's registers are little-endian? Or that tickling bit 4 of accumulator B will trigger an array rebuild? Documents only lay out the capabilities of a product, but do nothing to explain or detail the underlying silicon.
  • by kae_verens (523642) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:02PM (#11992365) Homepage
    I know that when I'm buying hardware, I first make sure that there's at least a reasonable chance that it will work in my operating system (Linux, by choice). So, in this case, if I was choosing a RAID card, and my system was BSD-based, then Adaptec would be down a few quid.
    • by Penguinoflight (517245) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:08PM (#11992406) Homepage Journal
      well you can guess that this particular controller will be avoided by anyone with connections. Openbsd doesn't enjoy much use from desktop or developer users because it's too hard, and has few advantages.

      The one advantage it does have is security, which is vital for running large scale servers. These servers have reliabilty as a high priority, so RAID is the norm.
    • by Fweeky (41046) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:24PM (#11992490) Homepage
      Ironically AAC's support under FreeBSD at least has been superior to Linux's for quite a while (not so much in the past few months, but certainly for the past couple of years before). We originally bought our cards to run under FreeBSD, and had significant problems migrating to Linux where the aacraid driver liked to fall over every few weeks.

      I'd rather use software RAID now. Closed source management tools and unreliable software, hardware and firmware are not things I want anywhere fucking near my data storage subsystems.

    • Even if I'm using hardware on Windows - I make sure that support is available with Linux and, better yet, FreeBSD.

      It keeps you out of driver hell.

      You know what I'm talking about - like sound-cards with 24meg drivers because the chips on the card don't have enough ommph to do their job without relying on the CPU. Or shitty WinModems that crap out on any line noise because they don't have a real DSP on them
  • Simple solution... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hans Lehmann (571625) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:04PM (#11992378)
    There's a very simple solution for this: Don't buy anything from Adaptec, ever. They'll be out of business; problem solved.
    • Please, this is no troll...

      This is how we are supposed to "vote with our money" as "consumers". Yes, I know, it'll never have any effect anyway, but that still dont make it a troll.
  • Just a note (Score:5, Informative)

    by FullMetalAlchemist (811118) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:05PM (#11992382)
    Just a note; the "former Adaptec employee" is Scott Long of the FreeBSD project [freebsd.org].

    I have not been using OpenBSD sice 1999, but hardware support was never its strong point... though what it supported was,like all the BSD's, supported extremely well.

    It's a good call, in spirit of BSD. Scott's drivers are exellent and they just need to port those.
    • Re:Just a note (Score:5, Informative)

      by Caligari (180276) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:40PM (#11992582) Homepage
      You misunderstand. OpenBSD already have a driver [openbsd.org]. They want documentation to improve that and more importantly implement a management program which can do critical stuff like check if any drives have failed.

      The management utility in the FreeBSD ports tree is binary-only. OpenBSD refuse to accept binary only crap, which is why they want this documentation.

  • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:07PM (#11992403) Homepage
    OpenBSD confirms it... Adaptec is dying!

  • Freedom is great! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HanB (774214)
    It allows so many companies to sell you a leash and handcuffs. Yes go ahead and wear them, the great advantage is that you'll never go where you shouldn't and that you'll never hurt anyone.

    The amazing thing about this whole afair is that Adaptec itself is also a leashed and cuffed company. But after some thinking I realized Nvidia is just such a company. Even if they wanted to release the _specifications_ of their hardware they couldn't.

    All in all this forces people to stick to one OS. That's why it is so
  • by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:16PM (#11992447) Homepage
    It's all about making sure the big shareholders know that the company's policies are costing them sales.

    People say that Theo should stop being so annoying, but the only way shareholders find out is when it gets massively publicised like this.

    It worked for the 802.11 drivers. It's worth a shot here.
    • How is Theo being annoying? If one open system doesn't have the specs to support the hardware, then none of them will. Or has Adaptec started shipping x86-only binary drivers to Linux or FreeBSD? Adaptec has apparently underestimated the size of the Linux/*BSD server market which relies on their products. Adaptec: Please stop listening to Microsoft's figures based only on OEM sales, they're not accurate. The only company will the balls to sell me a server with out the MS Tax and still support it, is IBM.
  • by metaverse (146352) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:18PM (#11992459)
    Like their old AAA ide raid controllers which was nothing more than IDE paddle boards with software raid logic..marketed as true hardware raid.. Documentation exposes the magic behind the illusion..(sometimes)
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:18PM (#11992465)

    Reminds me of Promise's definition of "Linux support" for a card I bought.

    In the case of the SX-150 SATA raid card (which has a hardware XOR engine and whatnot), that meant "we have binary drivers for distributions which are several years old".

    There is some source. Well, it's a 'wrapped' binary driver, and it's only available from "some guy" in Germany who begged Promise support long enough they gave it to him. You a)cannot compile it into the kernel b)cannot compile it for 2.6 because it simply isn't compatible. I sent numerous emails to Promise asking when a 2.6 driver would be available or if there was any updated source code. None were ever answered.

    Same story with the tools- unless you're running Redhat 9.0 or some ancient version of Suse, forget ANY on-line monitoring.

    Not that the customers are much better- one page I found about the card suggested that "software raid is faster anyway", which is an absurd proposition by itself. Regardless, why would you spend $100-200 more on a hardware-raid card complete with cache memory, and then just use the 2.6 SATA driver which only drives the SATA interfaces?

    From what I understand, 3ware has better support for Linux, but that means I have to migrate a large amount of data off the old array..

    • by ultima (3696) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:34PM (#11992549)
      Software RAID *is* very often faster, especially on a modern CPU paired with an older design -- you don't buy HW RAID because it is faster, you buy it for battery backup and offloading of low level operations to conserve CPU time and bus/memory bandwidth for user applications and so that if your OS or CPU/memory/whatever blows up, or you lose power, it won't corrupt the data on your disk array. Hardware RAID dedicated processors are simple, slow, "reliable" units -- not ultra-fast bleeding-edge dedicated units like you see on video cards.
      • you don't buy HW RAID because it is faster, you buy it for battery backup and offloading of low level operations to conserve CPU time and bus/memory bandwidth for user applications and so that if your OS or CPU/memory/whatever blows up, or you lose power, it won't corrupt the data on your disk array.

        Hey, next time, read my full post:

        "Regardless, why would you spend $100-200 more on a hardware-raid card complete with cache memory, and then just use the 2.6 SATA driver which only drives the SATA interface

        • He was responding to your comment, "one page I found about the card suggested that "software raid is faster anyway", which is an absurd proposition by itself."

          I have no idea why you would spend $100-$200 more on a hardware raid card for linux without knowing beforehand if it would work. My experience is that very, very few hardware raid solutions are well supported on linux.
    • by sffubs (561863)

      I had similar troubles with my Promise Fasttrack 100 TX2, which afaik is just a standard ATA disk controller with the capability to label drives as being part of certain arrays. The raid stuff is then done in software.

      Anyway, Linux support for this has been patchy. There was a native driver in 2.4 for some time, which worked on-and-off. There was also a source-wrapped binary driver, available from the Promise site, which worked occasionally under 2.4, but is incompatible with 2.6. I assume Promise have no

  • Use IBM RAID (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tollieman (243634)
    Just use IBM serveRAID controllers...
  • It seems to me that this will either result in people not upgrading or Adaptec will just release a binary driver (if one doesn't already exist) and people will upgrade if they want to. So this makes for a nice press release but I think that the implications aren't as great as they sound.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:35PM (#11992551)
    Theo says: "We are not asking for support. We are asking for documentation."

    Substitute "They" for "We" in that sentence and it could have been me speaking, when I was working at Adaptec and trying to release an in-house version of the starfire (a.k.a. "Duralan" ethernet MAC) driver. I hit that same brick wall over and over again while tying to get some chip specs and a linux driver released. Somehow, in their minds, "support" is translated into not releasing specs and drivers. Releasing such information, in contrast, is a failure to support customers. This wierd Orwellian doublethink seems to pervade the thinking of everyone connected with supporting Linux and other free OS's at Adaptec.

    It's so amazing to see that nothing has changed at Adaptec in the last 7 years. My own driver episode was "resolved" (unsatisfactorily, for me) by Donald Becker agreeing to sign an NDA for the chip specs. Not to second guess Donald, but my thinking at the time was, "this just postpones the problem. Maybe it would be better just to boycott these imbeciles."

    Not to close on a sour note, I should say that Adaptec was a great place to work in many ways, and I always viewed their attitude toward free software as an aberration. I still tend to do so, and perhaps that's wishful thinking on my part.
  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @04:39PM (#11992572)
    Why adaptec isnt releasing detailed specs is obvious. If people had them they could better evaluate the product. Apparently the marketing dept. at adaptec fears transparency and complacency.

    Look at the small and medium end raid market now. Theres not many players, Adaptec,promise,3ware and a bunch that adaptec bought up. Adaptec gains nothing by opening up itself to a point by point comparison with lesser competitors. Their name recognition is carrying them much the way IBM's used to. Further if the hardware is bugged and tricky and adaptec knew about it then they open themselves up to liability.

    Their reasons are obvious keep the barriers high and keept those that can't climb them out.
  • Unfortunately I cannot purchase Adaptec controllers anymore. No, it's not because they aren't supported in OpenBSD, nor is it a new decision. It is because a couple years ago I purchased several Adaptec raid controllers for some webservers and the drivers included didn't work. I managed to obtain, after much pain, a better driver. To make a long story short, they had to come out of service because the driver updates took so long that I had to run really old kernels just to support the raid driver. Sounds l
  • LSI (Score:4, Interesting)

    by prestwich (123353) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:00PM (#11992690) Homepage
    You know, the LSI SCSI cards are rather nice, they work with Linux; I don't know what their deal is with docs, but they seem to have contributed code.

    (OK, so not directly related to Adaptec - but it seems to be a reasonable place to give their competitor a pat on the back!).
  • theo rocks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:18PM (#11992802)
    I wish the Linux people would have enough balls to make a stand with us. No such luck there.

    Oh well
  • by niko9 (315647) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:22PM (#11992835)
    * To: Charles Swiger
    * Subject: Re: Adaptec AAC raid support
    * From: Bob Beck
    * Date: Sat, 19 Mar 2005 13:56:41 -0700
    * Cc: Theo de Raadt , Sean Hafeez , misc@openbsd.org, Scott Long , freebsd-questions@freebsd.org
    * In-reply-to:
    * Mail-followup-to: Charles Swiger , Theo de Raadt , Sean Hafeez , misc@openbsd.org, Scott Long , freebsd-questions@freebsd.org
    * References:
    * User-agent: Mutt/1.5.6i

    > ...deliberately breaking OpenBSD's support for Adaptec hardware as some
    > sort of ultimatum is a childish and self-destructive action. I hope
    > the other OpenBSD committers veto any such action as being
    > counterproductive and harmful to your users.

    Horsecookies. What was done was remove AAC support from GENERIC,
    because users know what is in GENERIC is supposed to be stable and a
    good candidate for use. I've got AAC's. They aren't at the moment.
    they die, and you can't do anything with the raid management without
    rebooting, and Adaptec has shown no signs of releasing documentation
    so that situation can be corrected.

    Sure, there's a "free" driver, and a non-free management interface,
    so it's only half a driver. Pretending to have a production system
    using a raid card that with no supportable management interface so you
    have to reboot to fix anything is like buying birth control pills in
    packs of 20. Pretty soon you're going to take a good fucking on a day
    you really can't afford it. Period.


    As such AAC isnt' any more broken than it ever was. OpenBSD
    just chooses not to encourage users to purchase a non-supportable
    card by including support for it in the GENERIC kernel. Are you
    saying it's more honest to leave unstable and incomplete support in
    there? People who wish to use it anyway can always compile it in.

    > Otherwise, you're likely to discover that most people choose to run an
    > OS which works with the hardware they have, rather than sticking with
    > OpenBSD.

    Or choose to replace the hardware that isn't supportable by the
    OS they want to run. Thank you LSI and Dell. LSI cards seem to work
    fine.

    -Bob

    emphasis added by poster
  • It's like the guy didn't even read Theo's email, just chopped it up and repeated portions of previous emails in response.

    I really don't get this... it's win/win for adaptec unless they have something huge to hide. OpenBSD has been around for a while and has a good reputation for getting stuff done. If they would just forward Theo and his buddies to some guy on the back end of things, they'd generate some sales and also make the OpenBSD people shut up for a while.

    Wierdest thing is you KNOW the guy they'r
  • Slightly FUD (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sivar (316343) <charlesnburns[&]gmail,com> on Sunday March 20, 2005 @05:38PM (#11992915)
    "A former Adaptec employee admits that the hardware is buggy and tricky to get right."
    This smells mildly of FUD.

    What the Adaptec guy actually said was:
    The hardware is tricky to get right and there are bugs in different cards and different firmware versions that often need to be worked around.
    Using the word "buggy" like it was used in the Slashdot front page article implies that the cards are flaky and that non-Adaptec cards aren't (as) buggy. This isn't outright stated, but similarly saying something like "I don't use Microsoft Office because it is buggy" tends to leave the listener with the impression that other office suites are less buggy, even though that isn't stated outright.
    The Adaptec employee stated only what we already know--that different revisions of firmware have different bugs (in ALL products that use firmware, not just Adaptec RAID adapters), and that they must be worked around. If different revisions of firmware didn't have bugs, then different revisions of firmware wouldn't exist--the first one would have worked fine (aside from occasional feature additions and tweaks).

    However, to the original poster's credit, Adaptec RAID cards really do suck, and they really are buggy (not to mention slow, especially in RAID 5, compared to almost every other brand--and Adaptec's entire SCSI line is pretty consistant in that regard), but that is beside the point. Slashdot shouldn't participate in the same FUD that we so often criticize--just let the facts speak for themselves, and leave the interpretation up to the reader.
  • I once found the Linux Adaptec driver maintainer's site. I was appalled to see a matrix of mostly unique drivers for combinations of Linxu kernels and Adaptec HBA models. I got the impression that every time Adaptec designs a new HBA they ignore everything they've done before.

    Contrast that with Symbios SCSI HBAs (now LSI Logic). There has always been just one driver for all the Symbios HBAs that use a given SCSI chip, and more recently I think I've seen some integration into a driver that covers multip

  • rule of thumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by idlake (850372) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @06:04PM (#11993142)
    I think it is quite common for vendors to put out hardware that isn't quite engineered up to spec, where, if you looked at its design and interface, you'd see that it really can't work quite right, or get the performance they claim. Another reason is that the documentation may simply not exist, a clear indication of poor engineering practices at the hardware vendor. I suspect that's actually the main reason so many hardware vendors are so secretive about their interfaces: they don't want to air their dirty laundry in public.

    As a rule of thumb, if you are buying a piece of hardware, buy one for which known, good, independently-developed open source drivers exist. The existence of such drivers is a good indication that the hardware is well-documented, probably decently designed, and that it probably does what it is advertised as doing. And that's a good rule of thumb even if you are buying the hardware that you only intend to use with closed-source operating systems.
  • Adaptec Losing It. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PhotoGuy (189467) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @08:03PM (#11993846) Homepage
    Hardware RAID controllers are quite significant in the server market, and we all appreciate the "not insignificant" share of the server market that Linux has.

    Well, I have a number of Adaptec's ATA Raid Cards (ATA RAID 2400A), for the longest time they only supported RedHat 7.0. Now that Fedora is somewhat the premiere platform for me (three releases later), they are finally supporting Redhat 9.0.

    With the the latest Fedora, there is no way to see if the raid array has a failed drive. So I instead use the card as a quad ATA controller, using software RAID. Guess if I'd buy another Adaptec piece of hardware???

  • by redhatkingpin (594438) on Sunday March 20, 2005 @09:31PM (#11994381) Homepage
    I've been reading the posts on the misc mail list for OpenBSD, and I think a few things need to be said.

    First, Theo and the other developers, although making good points, are being quite rude to employees. I think that its important for them to push this issue, but I think they are handling it immaturaly. Flaming Adaptec (ex-)employees is not a good move, even if Scott did make a post on OSNews -- attack the companies economic base through a boycott instead.

    Secondly, I think that if Theo and the gang started an organized boycott of Adaptec raid controllers in a professional manner, then got those people to sign a petition, write to Adaptec, and such along with getting a pretty accurate count of how many of Adaptec's raid controllers have been purchased by those boycotting Adaptec, they might be able to show themselves to be consisting of a large enough market to cause a dent in Adaptec's profits. Not only OpenBSD, but also FreeBSD, NetBSD, and Linux users who feel that its important to use open source drivers. This may require a bit of work, but its the most effective way to get Adaptec's attention. I mean, how many open-source Unix servers are using their raid cards? How many of those users, admins, etc. realize the importance of an open source driver so it can be maintained by the community, since most companies have been slow (to say the least) to update their binary drivers? Not to mention, the flexibility involved with porting it to different Open-source Unix OS's and using it with different software configurations and versions?

    Thirdly, some people are arguing that that Adaptec will release an SDK in 4 months, but given the history of the Adaptec drivers and drivers by other companies, that would probably involve using a binary driver... which wouldn't help.

    I think that if the open source OS's are going be taken seriously by vendors, then they need to act in a professional manner and show their economic strength through well-crafted reports and well-organized efforts.

    I support the work of Theo and the other OpenBSD developers -- I believe they are right, but I think the open source community has to join together for a common cause and be professional about such things.

    If we, as a community, can make this happen in a professional manner, and win, then maybe, just maybe, we can extend this to other vendors. If we can't pull together, then we're fighting a losing battle against closed source OS's such as Windows and venders such as Adaptec, and we might as well give up now.

    We can do this, I know we can. But, we have to do it correctly. So, come on folks, act professional, realize what's at stake, and organize. Think of the visibility the grass roots democratic groups got when they organized and acted like a unified front -- they didn't win the election, but that was surely noticed.
    • by Mysteray (713473)

      First, Theo and the other developers, although making good points, are being quite rude to employees. I think that its important for them to push this issue, but I think they are handling it immaturaly. Flaming Adaptec (ex-)employees is not a good move, even if Scott did make a post on OSNews

      I think if you go back and check the archives you'll find that the great majority of the four-letter words are not coming from the OpenBSD group. Ref: that "post on OSNews [osnews.com]".

      I mean, how many open-source Unix servers

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