It all started in the CentOS forums.
CentOS, being an Enterprise Class Linux distro, may not have support for new hardware, especially those found in desktops and laptops. CentOS forums get many postings from users who are looking for drivers that are needed for their network device, webcam, etc. In fact, googling for “driver” and “centos” yields much more hits from the forums than the mailing list as shown in my earlier blog.
Alan Bartlett who has been actively helping in the forum has strong background in the kernel and its modules and has been building, whenever possible, a driver module each time he sees a cry for help. In a fairly short period of time, quite an impressive number of such kernel modules were built this way and it was growing.
Because these drivers were designed to be independent of the kernel version (kABI-tracking, kABI = kernel application binary interface), they survive kernel updates. Also, they can be used in RHEL and all its rebuilds, not just CentOS. So, it was a good idea to make them available to wider communities. NedSlider proposed to establish a repository for that purpose. The ELRepo project was thus started by five members of the CentOS / Scientific Linux community.
A little more details of ELRepo can be found in the Ned’s recent blog.