Upstreaming hardware data – MonitorsDB

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And so it begins.   One challenge Dell has had over time is getting the right lists of hardware included in the right Linux packages.  Today's example – monitors.  Dell, over the years, has by my count sold 197 different monitor types, and releases several more each month.  We'd like to see those monitors appear in the drop-down list of your favorite Linux monitor configuration tools.  However, each Linux distribution has had their own private copy of this list, meaning there's a good bit of work to keep every distribution updated whenever a new monitor is released.  Some distributions even ship several copies of the same file, in different packages (e.g. Ubuntu ships both hwdata and kde-guidance packages, each of which contains a MonitorsDB file).

In the case of the MonitorsDB list, it turns out that the Fedora hwdata package was being used by RHEL, Debian, and Ubuntu.  So, update the Fedora package, and eventually these other distributions would get those same updates.  Eventually.  And there was no clear way how to merge monitor entries that each distro had, back into the Fedora package.

I helped get the hwdata package moved out, into its own upstream project.  From here, the Fedora, RHEL, and other distributions, and their packages, can pull the latest MonitorsDB file.  Being an open source project, anyone can contribute new monitor entries into this list – Dell updates the list within a week of a monitor being released for sale.

The project has well coordinated the known list of PCI Vendor and Device IDs, and this is used by all Linux distros I'm familar with.  I expect that same success to be echoed in this new hwdata upstream project. 

About the Author: Matt Domsch

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