Linux First to Support USB 3.0
Article by George Norman
On 12 Jun 2009
The first operating system to provide support for the speedier successor of USB 2.0, mainly USB 3.0, is not the Microsoft developed Windows nor is it the Apple developed Mac OS X. The first OS that will be capable of providing support for USB 3.0 is Linux. For Linux fans I bet this news is even better than the one that the French Gendarmerie Nationale gave up on Windows in favor of Linux and since then never looked back ( details here ).

According to Sarah Sharp, Linux developer at Intel’s Open Source Technology Center, in the near future the Linux kernel will have USB 3.0 support integrated into it. Linux will indeed be the first operating system out there to have official support for USB 3.0, but this will only happen later in the year – a few months later actually.


“The xHCI (USB 3.0) host controller driver and initial support for USB 3.0 devices is now publicly available on my git tree. Greg K-H has queued the patches for 2.6.31, so Linux users should have official USB 3.0 support around September 2009. This is impeccable timing, since NEC recently announced they'll be producing 1 million xHCI PCI express add-in cards in September. This means that Linux will be the first operating system with official USB 3.0 support. I'm working with Keve Gabbert (the OSV person in my group at Intel) to make sure that Linux distributions like Ubuntu and Red Hat pick up the xHCI driver. Advanced users can always compile their own kernel on a standard distro install,” explains Sarah Sharp.

If you are tech savvy and feel you cannot wait until September to get USB 3.0 support for Linux, then you should know that Sarah Sharp has been kind enough to post a detailed tutorial entitled “Installing a custom kernel with USB 3.0 support.” According to Sharp, this tutorial is meant for vendors that wish to put their USB 3.0 devices or xHCI host controller prototypes to the test.

As a little side note, USB 3.0 has been dubbed the SuperSpeed USB because it is capable of delivering transfer speeds of 5.0Gbps – that is ten times faster than USB 2.0.

Tags: Linux, USB 3.0
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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