Linux Device Drivers Course Enables Longtime “Hardware Guy” to Better Support Customer Challenges

With 15 years of hardware experience at a leading semiconductor company, Rich Cahill has had a front row seat as the industry has evolved. In the past, understanding how operating systems use their hardware was not as critical. With the release of their newest product, the ability to provide support on a deeper level has become key to building long term relationships with customers, leading Cahill to enroll in the Linux Foundation’s Developing Linux Device Drivers (LFD430) course.

“A lot of our customers are building products that interact with the Linux kernel and it was a bit of a mystery for me,” said Cahill.“Not having that understanding can lead to miscommunication with customers and I wanted to be able to speak confidently and provide better support. I needed to be able to understand the language that my customers were using with their software teams and when they run into a problem, I wanted to be able to go deeper and look for ways that I can help them overcome those.”

Cahill says the course “100% met expectations” and he was excited that following the course, he was immediately able to put what he learned into practice with a customer.

“I had a situation with a customer right after the course where they were frustrated and thought the hardware wasn’t working,” said Cahill. “The customer couldn’t get their driver to work and I sat down with them and looked at it with them. I was able to confidentially tell them that there was nothing wrong with their driver and that they were focused on the wrong problem. I demonstrated that by taking another piece of hardware and with the same driver, showing them that it worked fine. That’s something I never would have felt confident doing without the course.”

When asked if he could compare The Linux Foundation’s training with other courses he had taken, Cahill shared a story about a kernel architecture class he had recently attended through another institution.

“There were some good elements to the other course but the materials weren’t up-to-date. With our new ARM product, we’re only supporting kernel 3.7 and up and the Linux Foundation’s training courses are basically in lock-step with the kernel so it was perfect for what I needed.”

Other highlights for Cahill were the examples shared in the course, the deep knowledge that the instructors bring, the ability to attend the training course virtually, and the course materials provided, which Cahill says he keeps close by on his desk.

“The examples in the course were by far one of my favorite parts of the course. That was absolutely invaluable. When I was offline, I was writing my own code and to have a guide that you could look at was huge. In the other course that I took, they just turned us loose and I found myself digging around on the internet and you’re getting references from things from 2005 up to 2010 and it’s just all over the map. The course shows you the right approach to take and the instructors give a lot of framework about where things are headed in the future and that kind of perspective was incredibly valuable.”

Cahill is looking into other Linux Foundation courses and in the meantime, he says he’s recommended the course to others.

“I’ve recommended the course to a couple of people that I work with already,” said Cahill. “The future here for us is dependent on supporting customers using our new product with an embedded ARM9 processor within the FPGA. To do that effectively, it’s important to understand kernel architecture and how Linux drivers work and the course absolutely helps you do that.”

About LFD430 Developing Linux Device Drivers

The Linux device drivers course will help you become familiar with the different kinds of Linux device drivers used under Linux and the appropriate API’s through which devices interface with the kernel. View the complete Developing Linux Device Drivers course overview.

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