The Driver Backport workgroup creates distribution-independent means to create, distribute, maintain and support backports of current upstream drivers on the older kernels of Linux distributions.
The goal is to make Linux distributions run easily on anything that can run Linux at the day it comes to market.
Most Linux users use a distribution, not Linux from scratch. If the distro is older than the hardware, they hope to find a simple-to-use update medium with “new drivers to get it working”. They also expect the system to continue to run after any system update, and obviously also after system upgrades (to the next distribution release).
So to keep distribution users happy, the distributors together with the system and component vendors test each and every kernel and driver update.
In the past, when the kernel and the drivers were distributed together, that meant three alternatives for systems that need drivers newer than what is on the distribution:
In essence the one main hindrance of getting Linux widely supported with distributions was the retesting effort of the “one kernel for all” distribution model.