Novell has launched a new Linux driver process aimed at solving the problems I was trying to figure out earlier.

These drivers are then linked to a specific Linux kernel version via kABI (Kernel Application Binary Interface) metadata. This linkage enables the system to know what driver version works with the current kernel version. Since the kABI is a moving target, Novell will track it and inform hardware vendors, as needed, when they need to update a driver for an upcoming change to the kABI…

In its FAQ, the Linux distributor states, “The best place for partners to develop kernel drivers is upstream in the kernel.org source tree, where kernel driver code benefits from thorough review and community involvement. Novell promotes having all Linux device drivers be a part of the official kernel.org source tree. However, we recognize that some drivers are not there yet or have been integrated only after a kernel release has happened. For this case, we offer a way to get a supportable and certifiable driver anyway using the Driver Process described here.”

Good stuff, I hope the other distros adopt it.