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Developer Summit

The future of third-party driver installation

2012-05-11 10:00..10:45 in G. Ballroom B

We have had Jockey for quite a while now to perform the installation of proprietary (e. g. NVidia), alternative (e. g. fglrx vs. fglrx-updates), third-party (e. g. from openprinting.org) drivers.

However, I feel that this needs some refreshing:

  • The code base of Jockey is quite complex, it was meant for a lot more stuff than we are actually using it for. We also came up with simpler ways of mapping hardware to packages, mostly with additional tags in the apt package lists. We also have a more upstream friendly API in PackageKit/aptdaemon now to do this kind of thing.

We can simplify the jockey code base and backend logic a lot (up to the extend of completely dropping it) by making full use of above new technologies and dropping the extra features we don't use. The exception is the openprinting.org detection, but that could go into system-config-printer or python-cups directly.

  • We install some drivers (like Broadcom wifi) straight from Ubiquity now, which certainly makes sense for devices where there is no free alternative. For the others (e. g. NVidia) we pop up a notification and offer to install them. I'd like to walk through the current UI and discuss how this could be made more steamlined and less confusing (e. g. for NVidia it can potentially offer 6 different drivers for you!)

  • We might consider merging the jockey UI functionality, which is mostly a shallow GUI around "install that package" now) into software-center, control-center, or something similar to the codec installer. I'd again appreciate if someone from the design team could participate in that (hello Matthew!).