I’m surprised this has gone mostly unnoticed: two Japanese researchers wanted to port the Kernel-based Virtual Machine from Linux to Windows. In order to do that, they created a compatibility layer that allows you to run Linux drivers on Windows (in kernel, no less!). They gave a talk titled WinKVM: Windows Kernel-based Virtual Machine at last year’s KVM Forum, the KVM Developers Conference.

Source code is available here.

Given that Linux never removes support for any hardware from the kernel unless the driver breaks the kernel badly, the first use I can think of is obsolete hardware whose drivers no longer work on modern versions of Windows. That’s a often-encountered case in military and industrial environments: LAN Emulation cards, industrial devices using proprietary buses and proprietary cards to communicate to PCs, medical devices, etc. In those cases, the hardware generally outlives the computer that runs the software by decades (the software is no problem thanks to virtualization).

A second target “market” could be devices which do not have a Windows driver. Believe it or not, they exist in niche markets (and not so niche: the free Kinect driver was initially only available for Linux).

4 Thoughts on “Linux drivers running on Windows

  1. Agree wholeheartedly. I ran across the need to use a USB hardware device manufactured in 1998 which stopped being sold in 1999 and whose last win32 drivers are for Windows 2000.

    Needless to say, Win7 refuses to run the win2k drivers… but Linux supports this device out of the box. So why canดt I run the Linux drivers through some sort of win32-to-linux API compatibility layer?

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    FC

  2. A darker and more useful use would to be able to use Linux network drivers in windows to do monitoring mode usb airpcap adapter costs about 500 bucks but alfa about 20 but only dose monitoring mode in linux ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually do this for legit reasons but the expense is painful there open source driver for network cards that support AC and airpcap dose not even do AC yet and a lot expensive software that only runs in windows and this just made life possibly a lot easier lot less expensive. BYE BYE airpcap adapter!

  3. Jonathan Wint on Saturday 05th April 2014 at 02:18:10 said:

    JUST HAD I WONDERFUL IDEA!

    Window XP 64 was actually Wonderful Gaming Platform (we are talking like 30% better than windows 7) but Everyone agreed Dead OS do to there being no Drivers! ๐Ÿ™‚

    A lot people in vain tried to make Windows 7 Drivers work on Windows XP 64.

    Now look at what I am thinking!

  4. Sadly, three and a half years later, nothing seems to have come out of this. I meant, user-runnable for end users…

    Sad

    FC

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