Ernie Smith, editor of themedia Motherboard, recently tried to find drivers for his PCI-SATA expansion card, only to find that these people’s harmless old hardware was already difficult to find the right drive download base. It notes that at least one large driver provider is actively removing old content that it no longer supports. And those traditional FTP driver download sites will soon be on the back.
After being abandoned by these portal sites, users must look for driver download links in some archived posts via the Internet Archive or Wayback Machine, or they will face difficulties.
In Intel’s case, the chip giant is cleaning up many motherboard BIOS drivers from its website because many of the old hardware has reached the end of its life cycle (EoL).
Although the Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is already very popular, many older users are still using older devices based on the Basic Input and Output System (BIOS).
Bleeping Computer points out that this appears to be a broader effort to prevent users from officially downloading hardware drivers that are no longer supported by Intel (for example, 15 years ago).
In a statement to Motherboard, Intel said this is a reference to industry practice:
In order to provide product support transparency to our customers, we have communicated guidelines on products and software that are about to or have terminated support, which is in line with industry standards.
Intel evaluates product needs and capabilities that can continue to be met, which combines a variety of factors, including technical and practical limitations, as well as customer feedback.
Unfortunately, this can be a problem for people who like to collect antiques and old technology, such as a group of netizens on the Vogons forum. Jason Scott, chief software curator at the Internet Archive, says:
Intel’s move reflects the tendency of hardware and software developers to ignore their legacy issues where possible, especially when it comes to consumer-grade software.
By contrast, corporate and corporate customers are more willing to pay for technical support updates to ensure that the original investment does not drift, and some phone companies keep the equipment running.
As for consumer-facing driver repositories, it reflects a shift in the way enterprises update and distribute new packages.
Initially, businesses tended to distribute software and updates by mail, and in the late 1980s there were options for digital distribution, such as Software Creations, which released Doom updates through bulletin boards.
In the mid-1990s, businesses began creating FTP repositories to distribute software, changing the nature of updates. Internet distribution has become easier, safer and more advanced, and the frequency of updates has accelerated.
Many of these FTP servers still exist, but in the new cycle, those looking for older drivers face the bad news that major web browsers are ending their support.
Starting with Chrome 82, Google will remove support for FTP sites. The release is currently under development and will arrive sometime next year. Meanwhile, Mozilla is doing the same thing with Firefox.
The main reason for this is security considerations (long-used excuses). As an old service, successors (SFTPs) can hardly protect them in the same way.
While FTP applications like CyberDuck may continue to play a long way, the lack of support from mainstream web browsers can be a source of great trouble for both users and FTP service providers.
Of course, the FTP protocol itself is not entirely at fault, especially the lack of support for search capabilities. The best way to retrieve information today is to use web-based search engines such as Google.
Experienced technical experts who can often find important documents (such as technical specifications). But the same content is unlikely to be found on the Web site.
The fate of drivers is no exception, as earlier this year, Ernie Smith tried to get older cameras working, but never found the right software to make them work.
In fact, Logitech still keeps a copy of the Connectix webcam software on its FTP site (not found on the Web site). Even though it hasn’t been updated for more than 20 years, it only supports the Windows 3.1 / NT / 95 operating system.
With that in mind, old-fashioned driver software will also face the fate of the world after two of the most popular desktop browsers , Chrome and Firefox, removed support for FTP.