Perpetual betaness doesn't mean unusable.
I think I read somewhere that Linus himself uses Fedora.
And for that matter, isn't Linux itself kinda perpetually beta?
When you think of the graphics driver changes that that happened not so long ago and broke user (intel) desktops, it certainly looks like it.
I have a feeling Intel is given too much of a free hand in submitting early changes without keeping a backup. It caused several supposedly stable releases of kernels to behave as some shitty betas for many users.
Although hidden regressions are not avoidable in general, it is unthinkable they didn't know (or shouldn't have known) about this when they submitted the code.
Sure seems like it if they can't yet create a stable API for drivers to use.
Thats on purpose and by design. Linux will likely never have a stable driver api. That would make it too easy to ship binary blobs. Put the drivers in kernel and they will be maintained for kernel version compatibility by the kernel developers.
Linus Torvalds has made his position on "stable kernel APIs" clear many years ago. His main point is that stable interfaces will hinder the kernel from progressing.
Originally Posted by http://lwn.net/1999/0211/a/lt-binary.html
I refuse to be at the mercy of any binary-only module. And that's why I refuse to care about them - not because of any really technical reasons, not because I'm a callous bastard, but because I refuse to tie my hands behind my back and hear somebody say "Bend Over, Boy, Because You Have It Coming To You".
I allow binary-only modules, but I want people to know that they are _only_ ever expected to work on the one version of the kernel that they were compiled for. Anything else is just a very nice unexpected bonus if it happens to work.
The entire message is too long to post here verbatim, but it is surely worth reading.
Yes. Nouveau has already been in the kernel since 2.6.33 (Ubuntu and probably others merged it earlier, 2.6.32). But it had apparently been marked as "staging" all the time (of which I wasn't even aware as most distros packaged it anyway) which is now undone.