> I once wrote the following patch to deal with this problem by
> probing ISA devices in the following order.
> 1. sensitive ISA devices described in device.hints
> 2. PnP BIOS ISA devices
> 3. other ISA devices described in device.hints
> 4. PnP ISA devices

This order is still slightly wrong.  You need to do:

 0. Disable ALL PnP devices which can be disabled.
 1. PnP devices (of any kind) which cannot be disabled, or which only
    have a single configuration.  These devices which cannot be disabled
    need a placeholder attached to them if a driver doesn't claim them,
    or some other mechanism so that their resources are never used.
 2. Sensitive hinted ISA devices.
 3. Other ISA devices.
 4. Other PnP devices.

... every activity meets with opposition, everyone who acts has his
rivals and unfortunately opponents also.  But not because people want
to be opponents, rather because the tasks and relationships force
people to take different points of view.  [Dr. Fritz Todt]
           V I C T O R Y   N O T   V E N G E A N C E

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