Linux to Support Firewire Until 2029

Firewire is getting a new lease on life and will have extended support up to 2029 on Linux operating systems. Phoronix reports that a Linux maintainer Takashi Sakamoto has volunteered to oversee the Firewire subsystem for Linux during this time, and will work on Firewire’s core functions and sound drivers for the remaining few that still use the connectivity standard.

Further, Takashi Sakamoto says that his work will help users transition from Firewire to more modern technology standards (like perhaps USB 2.0). Apparently, Firewire still has a dedicated fanbase that is big enough to warrant six more years of support. But we suspect this will be the final stretch for Firewire support, surrounding Linux operating systems. Once 2029 comes around, there’s a good chance Firewire will finally be dropped from the Linux kernel altogether.

Firewire is one of the more ancient standards in modern computer history. It began development all the way back in 1986 by Apple as a serial bus solution for high-speed communications, and it worked like USB ports allowing users to connect external devices to their computers. But FireWire has a few advantages over the original USB revisions, including Thunderbolt-like daisy chain support (for up to 63 devices), as well as peer-to-peer networking support.

The original version was released in 1995 and had a transfer speed of up to 400Mbps, the connector featured a 6-pin and it was able to supply power to connected devices. Firewire went through five revisions in total, with the final version being released in 2012, offering a substantially faster 1.57Gbps of bandwidth.

After 2012, support was effectively dropped with Firewire since Apple introduced its new Thunderbolt standard during that time. The first iteration of Thunderbolt was substantially more capable than Firewire, with 20Gbps of bandwidth utilizing 4 PCIe 2.0 lanes. Thunderbolt also featured DisplayPort 1.1a functionality for driving monitors.

Linux is now the final operating system that still supports Firewire, with Apple discontinuing support a few years ago and Microsoft discontinuing support in Windows 10. Again, support will end in 2029 for Linux-based operating systems — unless, of course, someone else decides to take up the mantle and continue support.