How often do developers of operating systems such as the BSDs use linux drivers as a guide to how the hardware works, as opposed to the actual technical documentation? I've heard that sometimes Linux drivers are used as a reference, but I'm wondering how often this is done.

@nnick There would be a preference to use vendor-provided documentation when it's available but where that's not an option then reverse-engineering is done.

Perhaps GNU/Linux leads in this because it's a significantly desktop-focused technology and peripheral support is important with new technologies appearing all the time. First in does the required work.

The BSDs did lead in the earlier days with their better networking stacks which were driven by their use in server applications.

@nnick Hop over to and ask a few of them :-) They won't bite!

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