Intel plans Linux support for Centrino

Intel is working on Linux support for Centrino, its package of chips for mobile computers with wireless networking abilities, but the company hasn't yet decided how or when to release it.

Intel is working on Linux support for Centrino, its package of chips for mobile computers with wireless networking abilities, but the company hasn't yet decided how or when to release it.

Although the Linux support software for Centrino is working at Intel's labs, it hasn't been fully tested and full completion of the project hinges on the timing of requirements from computer makers, company spokesman Scott McLaughlin said Monday.

Centrino is a bundle of chips for mobile computers, including the Pentium M processor code-named Banias, a chipset, and a wireless networking chip tested by Intel. To support all the Centrino capabilities, Linux or other operating systems need software modules called "drivers" that enable the use of specific hardware such as printers, graphics accelerators or wireless networking chips.

"Intel has tested Linux on Intel Centrino mobile technology-based systems in our labs," McLaughlin said. "Final validation will be based on customer demand and timing, but we expect complete Linux driver support for the Intel Centrino mobile technology."

Intel, an early investor in Linux seller Red Hat, has worked to ensure Linux can support the features that arrive in new processors. Rival Advanced Micro Devices has done the same and is counting on Linux support as a way to let customers take advantage of 64-bit features in its coming Opteron processor.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel hasn't yet decided whether to release its Linux work for Centrino as open-source software, McLaughlin said.

Proprietary drivers may be used in conjunction with the open-source operating system, according to Linux leader Linus Torvalds' interpretation of the General Public License (GPL) that governs Linux.