Linked by Rahul on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 19:24 UTC
Linux Greg Kroah-Hartman is a longtime developer of the Linux kernel, known for his work maintaining USB drivers. O'Reilly Media recently interviewed Greg about his claim that the Linux kernel now supports more devices than any other operating system ever has, as well as why binary-only drivers are illegal, and how the kernel development process works. "I went and asked every single hardware manufacturer, the big guys that ship the boxes, Dell, IBM, HP--what do you ship that isn't supported by Linux? They came back with nothing. Everything is supported by Linux. If you have a device that isn't supported by Linux that's being shipped today, let me know.". If you would like to take up Greg KH on his claim, his email address is greg AT kroah.com
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Uhm
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:05 UTC
Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

Dear Greg,

It's not about how many devices you support. It's about how well you support them, and how easy it is to get that support working.

Thom

Reply Score: 19

RE: Uhm
by Rahul on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:13 UTC in reply to "Uhm"
Rahul Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, I would say, how many devices you support, does matter to a good extend but as the article notes, for a large majority, the drivers do work very well.

For gpsca webcam driver, I wrote to Greg KH and Hans from Fedora started working on it as well, so not only is the driver in the latest upstream kernel, in Fedora 10, we also include a libv4l library that supports all the webcams using their own custom formats as well.

http://lwn.net/Articles/287910/
http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Features/BetterWebcamSupport

Still doesn't take away some of the pain points of proprietary drivers (Nvidia is the last major offender there) and proprietary firmware ( Broadcom is a pain because they are not even redistributable) and many others but overall the situation is getting very much better. It is interesting to see the industry turn around.

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: Uhm
by dagw on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 21:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm"
dagw Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, I would say, how many devices you support, does matter to a good extend but as the article notes, for a large majority, the drivers do work very well.


There's support and there's support. My laptop for example is technically fully supported, with open source drivers even, for all its features. Basically it is possible to get everything to work, that however doesn't mean it's easy to get working.

To get my fully supported laptop fully working I had to edit several files in /etc, download and compile the latest version of some driver that hadn't made it into my distros repository, cut and paste several scripts from several different web sites, change some of those script to fit my configuration and then edit a couple of more files, based on information from yet another third party site. Once that was done everything worked, more or less.

Compare this to Windows. I install Windows, go to the laptop manufacturers website, download the relevant packages for my laptop, double click those packages, hit Continue a couple of times, reboot and everything works.

Reply Score: 2

v RE: Uhm
by ari-free on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:23 UTC in reply to "Uhm"
RE[2]: Uhm
by Rahul on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:35 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm"
Rahul Member since:
2005-07-06

Sure, many vendors do exact that. Some vendors like Intel even get their drivers merged before they even release their hardware. What doesn't work is proprietary drivers. Whether the vendors make them or not is mostly irrelevant. Just because people know to make hardware, doesn't make them experts in being driver developers. Often, the opposite.

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: Uhm
by ari-free on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 22:19 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

What doesn't work is proprietary drivers.

yes and that is a big problem, especially for nvidia.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Uhm
by Rahul on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 22:25 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Uhm"
Rahul Member since:
2005-07-06

True and that I have already pointed. Intel started supporting 3D with free and open source drivers merged into Xorg a long time back and they have drastically increased their market share. ATI has followed through as well. Before ATI, people were arguing for "secret sauce" and "patent worries". Now that ATI has opened up and VIA has as well recently, Nvidia is really the odd man out with not any valid excuses to do the same thing.

Convincing Nvidia is surely part of the agenda in this statement

https://www.linuxfoundation.org/en/Kernel_Driver_Statement

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Uhm
by ari-free on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 22:37 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Uhm"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

the reality is that nvidia is very important and it affects the idea of linux as a commercial gaming platform. And that makes a difference in whether OpenGL will compete with DirectX or not.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Uhm
by Rahul on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 22:50 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Uhm"
Rahul Member since:
2005-07-06

Perhaps, nobody told you yet but Linux has pretty much no development happening to be platform for gamers. The situation has not improved much regardless of what Nvidia does.

OpenGL is entirely different however and continues to be successful especially because a large majority of its use is actually outside gaming.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Uhm
by ari-free on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 23:03 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Uhm"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

OpenGL is successful as a niche but not as competition for DirectX. I'm more concerned about getting a viable alternative to Microsoft than whether everything is 100% pure open source.
I don't think Apple cares about games that much either...unless they are for the iphone.

Edited 2008-11-02 23:05 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE[5]: Uhm
by lemur2 on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 01:40 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Uhm"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

True and that I have already pointed. Intel started supporting 3D with free and open source drivers merged into Xorg a long time back and they have drastically increased their market share. ATI has followed through as well. Before ATI, people were arguing for "secret sauce" and "patent worries". Now that ATI has opened up and VIA has as well recently, Nvidia is really the odd man out with not any valid excuses to do the same thing. Convincing Nvidia is surely part of the agenda in this statement https://www.linuxfoundation.org/en/Kernel_Driver_Statement


Nvidia state that their reason for not providing open source drivers (a la Intel) is that there are patents in their code where they have not been able to get the patent owner (not themselves) to agree to release source code.

If we read behind the lines here ... Nvidia are never going to be able to get that agreement either ... probably because the unnamed patent holder perceives their own best interest lies in making sure nvidia cards don't work well on open source operating systems.

There is no apparent reason why nvidia should not be able to provide specifications for their chips, however, so that open source could write their own full spec driver fior nvidia's cards (in a similar vein to what is happening with ATI right now).

In days not that long ago, it was simply the done thing for chip makers to provide full specifications for their new chips so that software authors (anyone and everyone, from any software company or group at all) could write drivers for them.

Somehow, in the intervening period, the industry has been completely turned around, and the source of software drivers has now somehow become expected to be the hardware chip manufacturer, exclusively. I wonder which party within the industry managed to get that all changed?

Edited 2008-11-03 01:42 UTC

Reply Score: 7

RE[3]: Uhm
by sbenitezb on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 13:52 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm"
sbenitezb Member since:
2005-07-22

Just because people know to make hardware, doesn't make them experts in being driver developers. Often, the opposite.


What? If you *do* make hardware, you know better than anyone about it to implement a driver. After all, most hardware is useless without drivers that interact with the OS. It's not like electronic engineers don't know C, or they lack programmers.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Uhm
by Soulbender on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 14:14 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Uhm"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

What? If you *do* make hardware, you know better than anyone about it to implement a driver.


The quality of 3rd party drivers speak differently. Just because you know how your hardware work doesn't mean you're good at writing drivers.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Uhm
by sbenitezb on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 14:27 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Uhm"
sbenitezb Member since:
2005-07-22

The quality of 3rd party drivers speak differently. Just because you know how your hardware work doesn't mean you're good at writing drivers.


Is it that or maybe just because they rushed to put the product out in the shelves? And they should know how to make drivers for their own hardware. They should have knowledgeable driver programmers writing drivers. If they don't, then it's about money, as always.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Uhm
by Soulbender on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 14:47 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Uhm"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Is it that or maybe just because they rushed to put the product out in the shelves?


Probably both to different degrees. A badly written driver is a badly written driver though. Exactly as to why that came to be is rather uninteresting for the end-user.

And they should know how to make drivers for their own hardware.They should have knowledgeable driver programmers writing drivers.


What should be is not the same as what is.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Uhm
by vtolkov on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 17:47 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Uhm"
vtolkov Member since:
2006-07-26

Just because you know how your hardware work doesn't mean you're good at writing drivers.

But if you do NOT know how hardware works, your do not have a chance to write a driver. Specs are never say much, there are hardware bugs and race conditions, good stable driver should work around them, etc.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Uhm
by Ford Prefect on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm"
Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

What do you mean by that? A large portion of the drivers included in Linux is developed by the respective hardware manufacturers, most of them are even maintained directly by them, too.

Perhaps you just lack the knowledge about the Linux driver situation. Why don't you read the Article / listen to the interview then?

Reply Score: 7

RE[2]: Uhm
by segedunum on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

The problem with that (I read that as allow separate, binary manufacturer drivers) is that it starts to destroy the integrity of the system, lots of unexplainable problems start to occur, and quite frankly, the vast majority of manufacturer written drivers are crap and there is no guarantee whatsoever how long they will keep those drivers available. Once a driver is in the Linux kernel it stays there until pretty much no one uses it any more.

Edited 2008-11-02 21:42 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Uhm
by hobgoblin on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 22:24 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

bingo, no better example of that then windows.

many a windows issue can be traced back to drivers doing something weird.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Uhm
by Wrawrat on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 05:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm"
Wrawrat Member since:
2005-06-30

[...]and quite frankly, the vast majority of manufacturer written drivers are crap [...]


I wonder why some people pretend that a bunch of random developers with a limited amount of knowledge (either on the device or in hardware development) can do a much better job than a whole team of developers with direct access to the specifications and the hardware development team.

Sure, these random developers surely have more familiarity with the Linux kernel, but it doesn't mean that the manufacturer team doesn't know how to code. They can do a great job for other OSes where the ABI doesn't change with the weather while having a greater market share...

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Uhm
by lemur2 on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 05:39 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Uhm"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"[...]and quite frankly, the vast majority of manufacturer written drivers are crap [...]
I wonder why some people pretend that a bunch of random developers with a limited amount of knowledge (either on the device or in hardware development) can do a much better job than a whole team of developers with direct access to the specifications and the hardware development team. Sure, these random developers surely have more familiarity with the Linux kernel, but it doesn't mean that the manufacturer team doesn't know how to code. They can do a great job for other OSes where the ABI doesn't change with the weather while having a greater market share... "

The speciality with software people is writing software. The speciality with hardware manufacturers is making hardware.

The correct point to interface between these two is the hardware specification, not the OS ABI.

For people who do not know what a hardware specification is, it goes along the lines of "to enable this feature, write this value to such-and-such register at that time". And so on and so forth for all of the applicable hardware features and associated control registers and control data paths. A UML sequence diagram often helps, and a data dictionary database of some description.

The hardware manufacturers know this specification, it is part of their whole hardware design in the first place.

The ONLY thing required to get a Linux driver is for the hardware manufacturer to give the specification to the OS software people. There can be an NDA involved if the hardware manufacturer wants, that is quite doable.

It doesn't cost the hardware manufacturer anything to get a Linux driver written for them.

Edited 2008-11-03 05:46 UTC

Reply Score: 7

RE[5]: Uhm
by Wrawrat on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 07:26 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Uhm"
Wrawrat Member since:
2005-06-30

The speciality with software people is writing software. The speciality with hardware manufacturers is making hardware.
[...]
The hardware manufacturers know this specification, it is part of their whole hardware design in the first place.

The ONLY thing required to get a Linux driver is for the hardware manufacturer to give the specification to the OS software people. There can be an NDA involved if the hardware manufacturer wants, that is quite doable.


This is an extremely idealistic point of view. Have you ever got involved with the development of physical devices? Nothing's perfect. Hardware might not behave as expected because of physical glitches or design flaws. Firmwares (which can be written by those hardware dudes) might have bugs. Devices might have revisions even if they got the same part number. All of this might not figure in the written specifications, which can already have errors and omissions.

Like you said, the speciality of software people is writing software. Yet, a computer peripheral is powered by software and hardware. Unless you are dealing with trivial devices, you will need the support of the hardware development team for developing solid drivers. Of course, manufacturers can put their hardware team in contact with Linux developers. However, it's not just the same as dealing with them directly at the workplace. Just look at those RADEON drivers : they don't suck, but they're not THAT great either, even with the specs.

Pretending that drivers coming from manufacturers are crap, like the original poster claimed, when they have the knowledge and the expertise for their devices is just BS to me. In my own experience, the best drivers I have used for Linux, in terms of stability, performance and features, were developed by the manufacturer. Naturally, I didn't picked some cheap hardware out of nowhere...

Still, I believe that a stable ABI could help those manufacturers who cannot afford to spend many resources on their Linux drivers. Sure, they could just "let the community write it for them", but I am pragmatical and understand why they could want to keep the control in a world full of patents. Sure, there are NDAs, but many idealistic developers would just refuse to sign them, as that goes against the "live free or die" mindset.

If you believe that GKH and his development team can do magic with only the specs, that's fine. I just don't believe in magic.

Edited 2008-11-03 07:27 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: Uhm
by ari-free on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 10:00 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Uhm"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

I'd bump you 100 points for 'common sense' if I could.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Uhm
by Moulinneuf on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 10:06 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Uhm"
Moulinneuf Member since:
2005-07-06
RE[6]: Uhm
by segedunum on Thu 6th Nov 2008 11:57 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Uhm"
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Pretending that drivers coming from manufacturers are crap, like the original poster claimed, when they have the knowledge and the expertise for their devices is just BS to me.

You misread completely. Binary-only drivers (which was what was discussed) written and overseen solely by one manufacturer are generally always crap and their shelf life is very short. You'll have to give me some examples to prove otherwise.

In my own experience, the best drivers I have used for Linux, in terms of stability, performance and features, were developed by the manufacturer.

The manufacturer will generally have got drivers developed and shipped with the kernel, but that's not always the case though. However, binary-only drivers are a PITA on any system, you don't know whether they will continue to be updated and they are even worse with Linux so I'm shocked if you are saying the manufacturer controlled drivers are better.

Still, I believe that a stable ABI could help those manufacturers who cannot afford to spend many resources on their Linux drivers.

All that will happen is that we'll go back to terrible, rushed, binary-only drivers that will continually break and have very short shelf-lives depending on how interested the manufacturer is in keeping support going. That's not what Linux is about. You install a Linux system, the drivers are there and it runs. End of story.

Sure, they could just "let the community write it for them", but I am pragmatical and understand why they could want to keep the control in a world full of patents.

The drivers in the kernel, and the ones manufacturers say they haven't been able to write (wireless drivers that are now going inetc.), are continually proving you wrong.

Sure, there are NDAs, but many idealistic developers would just refuse to sign them, as that goes against the "live free or die" mindset.

That's a very thin and rather weak statement.

If you believe that GKH and his development team can do magic with only the specs, that's fine. I just don't believe in magic.

You don't have to believe in magic. Just look at the subject line of this article and have a look at the devices supported within Linux that are supported nowhere else. I think you overlooked the obvious there.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Uhm
by Phase Angle on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 08:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm"
Phase Angle Member since:
2006-06-28

Funny that is same situation for most operating systems

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Uhm
by mabhatter on Tue 4th Nov 2008 03:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm"
mabhatter Member since:
2005-07-17

The problem with that (I read that as allow separate, binary manufacturer drivers) is that it starts to destroy the integrity of the system, lots of unexplainable problems start to occur, and quite frankly, the vast majority of manufacturer written drivers are crap and there is no guarantee whatsoever how long they will keep those drivers available. Once a driver is in the Linux kernel it stays there until pretty much no one uses it any more.

exactly, because the first thing open source people do to a manufacturer driver is pull out the spyware and adware. If that's the model then binary drivers simply won't last long.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Uhm
by sbergman27 on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:42 UTC in reply to "Uhm"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

It's about how well you support them, and how easy it is to get that support working.

Actually, it's about how many currently relevant devices you don't support, don't support well, or make the user jump through hoops to make work. (Inspiring speeches about "Freedom" notwithstanding.)

Ten "attaboys" is worth one "Oh, shit!". People these days expect their devices to just work without a lot of excuses.

Edited 2008-11-02 21:45 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Uhm
by Soulbender on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 09:54 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

People these days expect their devices to just work without a lot of excuses.


Wow, they sure are going to be disapointed with Windows then ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Uhm
by nick on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 05:22 UTC in reply to "Uhm"
nick Member since:
2006-04-17

Dear Greg,

It's not about how many devices you support. It's about how well you support them, and how easy it is to get that support working.

Thom


What are you trying to imply by that?

It might be claimed that Windows better supports devices for PC class hardware. But on the other hand, I have seen a report showing a large number of NT kernel crashes attributed to drivers. So without some reasonable evidence, I don't think such a thing can just be asserted as true.

As for how easy to get that support working, do you mean from a user's perspective, or driver / architecture port writer? If it is from a user's perspective, then again, I would like to see some quantifiable evidence. I know that it is easier for me to get Linux drivers working than Windows, because I'm more comfortable in that environment.

From the other perspective.. again, evidence.

Reply Score: 3

Kinda true
by handy on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:10 UTC
handy
Member since:
2005-07-06

Well the statement is kinda true, but problems starts when hardware is not supported ;) There are still things left for improvement:
- webcams (hans de goede) is doing a great job to improve this)
- also certain prof. dslr cameras which only support PTP (no usb mass storage). And I seem always to have problems with PTP cameras.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Kinda true
by hobgoblin on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 22:28 UTC in reply to "Kinda true"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

the latest kernel included a whole lot of webcam support.

the problem there tho is somewhat similar to the winmodem of "old". much of what should be done in hardware, is done in software.

as in, the basic webcam just spits the raw data from the sensor chip thru the usb cable, and its up to the software at the other end to make sense of that data and actually create the finished image.

thats what makes them so cheap, and also what makes them such a hassle to support.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Kinda true
by madcrow on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 22:33 UTC in reply to "Kinda true"
madcrow Member since:
2006-03-13

- also certain prof. dslr cameras which only support PTP (no usb mass storage). And I seem always to have problems with PTP cameras.

Invest in a good card reader (usually around $20-$30). You'll generally get much better transfer speeds than through the camera itself in either mass storage or PTP mode AND you won't have to worry about driver issues or about your camera's battery dying in mid transfer, both of which are issues when you connect the camera directly to the computer.

Reply Score: 6

How many Divers actually work correctly.
by theTSF on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 21:50 UTC
theTSF
Member since:
2005-09-27

Number of drivers that somewhat work is not as good as a system with limited drivers that work well.

This is why OS X has such a following. OS X doesn't support that many drivers however the ones that they do support work very well.

Linux doesn't do so well. Sure it find the device and I can get most of the features of the device to work. However not all and usually it is enough to be annoying. Say Linux work with MacBook Pro hardware however Right Click on the touch pad doesn't work or when awakes from sleep it the track pad randomly stops working.

Reply Score: 1

Rahul Member since:
2005-07-06

Apple's model only works because Apple controls bot the hardware and the software and only sells as a bundle. In the Linux case, a somewhat working driver is almost always better than something, that doesn't work at all since Linux has to compete in a commodity market.

Reply Score: 6

siki_miki Member since:
2006-01-17


Linux doesn't do so well. Sure it find the device and I can get most of the features of the device to work. However not all and usually it is enough to be annoying. Say Linux work with MacBook Pro hardware however Right Click on the touch pad doesn't work or when awakes from sleep it the track pad randomly stops working.


Not a driver problem. There tuturials to set that up, like this one:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacBook
(would be better if that was autodetected, though)


Second is a driver problem - and generally related to still not-so-good support for suspend in Linux.

Yes, there are plenty devices which don't have each feature supported. Help from hardware manufacturers is crucial with that, but also it often depends if userspace software has features developed to use that hardware in the best way.

Reply Score: 3

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

OS X doesn't support that many drivers however the ones that they do support work very well.


This is a double-edged sword. While it makes OS X work well on Apple machines and Apple-branded peripherals, you get into trouble as soon as you want to expand your Mac beyond Apple-branded and usually ridiculously overpriced peripherals.

I have a very cool and fast PowerMac dual G4-450Mhz with 1GB of RAM, and the thing just flies - except for graphics. It has its stock Ati Rage-whatever card with a measly 16MB of RAM, and so it doesn't support Quartz Extreme (and it shows in ALL animations, like Expose). I figured I'd just buy me a nice 5-6 year old AGP video card with at least 32MB and fix the performance issues, but because OS X is such a crybaby, and only cards with an Apple ROM work (even though the x86 equiv. is EXACTLY the same), I'm in trouble. No one here is selling old Mac video cards second hand, and shops only carry cards well over 100EUR - more than the PowerMac cost me!

So, supporting a limited et of hardware sounds nice, but it will bite you in the ass as soon as you want to upgrade.

Anyone got an old Mac GeForce 2MX 32MB AGP to spare for an ol' 'n' poor feller like me?

Edited 2008-11-02 22:16 UTC

Reply Score: 6

hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

not only graphics cards that have special apple roms.

iirc, the usb optical drive apple sells for the macbook air, only works with said machine thanks to a custom rom on the usb-to-ide board.

http://tnkgrl.wordpress.com/2008/06/24/macbook-air-superdrive-for-a...

Reply Score: 6

Sophotect Member since:
2006-04-26

Has nothing to do with Apple. In fact it's an open standard called OpenFirmware. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openfirmware

Problem for user is: It's not massmarket, considered "professional" and therefore expensive.

Theoretically one could plug in f.e. a Sun Graphics-Card instead of the orginal Apple. Practically it possibly won't work because of physically different slots (S-Bus/PCI), electrically different slots, and optionally different signaloutputs. I mean, of what use would a 13W3plug be instead of VGA or DVI? ;-) Even if, it would only be good for the "console", as soon as Graphics kick in the need for a OS-X-Driver arises.

Another option would be to simply flash the Bios of a PC-Card with the Bios of an Apple-Card, given one had the Bios which a friend would dump into a file. This works if the cards are really identical and do not divert from the "reference design", Chip/Ramclock, and so on. But this is deep "Overclocking Territory" and of no use to someone who doesn't want to deal with stuff like that in 2008 anymore :-)
Which is understandable, but i have to shrug my shoulders then. Either pay in money, or in time by fiddling with stuff :-)

Edit: While thinking about it. With Linux or some BSD i could at least plug in some Sun PCI-Framebuffer as addition, and have it working under X-Org.

Edited 2008-11-03 14:12 UTC

Reply Score: 1

hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

for all intents and purposes, it's special...

i ant think of anyone but apple that used openfirmware in products aimed at consumers...

Reply Score: 3

ectropy Member since:
2006-12-14

...because OS X is such a crybaby, and only cards with an Apple ROM work (even though the x86 equiv. is EXACTLY the same), I'm in trouble.


This is not an artificial limitation. PPC video cards have a different ROM than X86 cards because a portion of the firmware is executed when the computer enumerates the devices at start up. PC video cards have X86 code that works with BIOS and Mac PPC video cards have PPC code that works with Open Firmware.

Other than the necessary ROM difference, the cards are identical. The same limitation is found in bootable SCSI cards for PCC Macs.

Reply Score: 1

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

IIRC, it used to be fairly common for Mac users to purchase x86 video cards and then flash the ROMs to make them work in PPC machines.

Reply Score: 2

werpu Member since:
2006-01-18

Actually this is not quite true, the drivers in OSX usually are supported well, but this is a very limited subset of hardware. You run into major troubles for instance if you need a driver for a standard wlan usb stick! Apple has cornered the market there with its own airport (and you are screwed if your airport does not work anymore and the device is out of warranty)

If you use third party hardware, the mac drivers often are really shoddy and often only supported for 1-2 revisions of OSX!
I recently ran exactly into this issue with a third party hardware (USB wlan stick, due to a non working airport on an old mac mini)

Reply Score: 2

Pity about the fact that....
by Anon on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 22:56 UTC
Anon
Member since:
2006-01-02

Its support for the plethora of devices that Joe the User would purchase from Walmart etc, would be no better than a error line in /var/log/messages.

Who cares about thinly spread 'support' for devices. I'll take a smaller amount of *well* supported devices.

I'll bet for the large majority of these 'more devices ever' you'll need to crack open a console to figure out why it isn't working, only to realize the support goes as far as some 1/2 based open sores driver.

Trolling? Nope. I was trying to setup a USB printer the other day. What a joke.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Pity about the fact that....
by bralkein on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 00:42 UTC in reply to "Pity about the fact that...."
bralkein Member since:
2006-12-20

Who cares about thinly spread 'support' for devices. I'll take a smaller amount of *well* supported devices.


What you're saying doesn't make any sense. While there are some devices which are only half-supported under Linux, there are plenty of well-supported ones too. To use your printer example, I have an HP USB printer/scanner/copier with built-in flash card reader. It was very easy to set up through the CUPS interface (accessed through the programs menu, like anything else) and I cannot think of a single feature of this machine that doesn't work as expected.

There are a few half-baked drivers that take too much fiddling to set up, but overall Linux hardware support these days is very good in my experience, and if you want to be sure of success with your hardware then do a little research and select a well-supported model (of which there will be at least one for any mainstream category I can think of).

Finally, if you're not trolling (as you claim) then you might want to think about avoiding puerile terms like "open sores". They rather undermine the credibility of your comments.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Pity about the fact that....
by lemur2 on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 02:46 UTC in reply to "Pity about the fact that...."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Its support for the plethora of devices that Joe the User would purchase from Walmart etc, would be no better than a error line in /var/log/messages. Who cares about thinly spread 'support' for devices. I'll take a smaller amount of *well* supported devices. I'll bet for the large majority of these 'more devices ever' you'll need to crack open a console to figure out why it isn't working, only to realize the support goes as far as some 1/2 based open sores driver. Trolling? Nope. I was trying to setup a USB printer the other day. What a joke.


Name the printer, and we will decide the veracity of your troll.

If indeed typical Linux distributions do not ship with support for your printer model, and we cannot find support for your device from here:
http://www.linuxfoundation.org/en/OpenPrinting
http://www.linuxfoundation.org/en/OpenPrinting/Database/DatabaseInt...

... and our attempt to support your particular printer fails after attempting to make our own definition of it via this resource:
http://www.openprinting.org/edit_printer.cgi?newentry=1

... then I guess unfortunately you are in the same position as if you had a printer that was out of manufacture before January 2007 and you had bought a new Vista machine, and the CD that you originally got with your printer had only an XP driver on it.

Bad luck.

Reply Score: 4

Great interview
by siki_miki on Sun 2nd Nov 2008 23:58 UTC
siki_miki
Member since:
2006-01-17

Greg has good point to why model with binary drivers doesn't work with open source kernel. Or better said, why a driver ABI must be broken sooner or later when developing an OS (so they don't even try to have stable ABI).

For graphic cards, IMHO I like the model that AMD pursues. Opening specs (and somewhat participating in development) while keeping around highly optimized binary driver. For gaming/high-performance stuff you need sort of optimizations that are very specific and special-case in comparison to what goes to open source drivers (especially the kernel part). Those are usually hacks, like e.g detecting and acting for a specific game, which are by order of magnitude harder to implemented in a clean way with proper API abstractions. OSS drivers should have a clean design almost by definition, so they take time to develop, while gamers want speed fixes ASAP.

Opening specs is something Nvidia should do though, like AMD did. nouveau hackers already reverse-engineered a lot of their design, no need to keep it secret any longer.

Reply Score: 4

????
by ebasconp on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 00:14 UTC
ebasconp
Member since:
2006-05-09

What about my printer which does not have a driver for Linux and I have to print in a virtual machine using the USB port?

What about my USB TV card?

What about all the modems I tried to install in my parents' legacy computer?

I do not say: "HEY LINUX, YOU'RE GUILTY BECAUSE YOU
DO NOT PROVIDE ME WITH THE VALID DRIVER"... but
sayin' "they support everything" when a lot of
device I have do not work in Linux sounds arrogant to
me.

Reply Score: 8

RE: ????
by sbergman27 on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 00:28 UTC in reply to "????"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

What about... my printer...

What about my USB TV card?

What about all the modems...

Obviously those were all hallucinations. Seek treatment immediately. ;-)

Reply Score: 5

RE: ????
by lemur2 on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 02:15 UTC in reply to "????"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

What about my printer which does not have a driver for Linux and I have to print in a virtual machine using the USB port? What about my USB TV card? What about all the modems I tried to install in my parents' legacy computer? I do not say: "HEY LINUX, YOU'RE GUILTY BECAUSE YOU DO NOT PROVIDE ME WITH THE VALID DRIVER"... but sayin' "they support everything" when a lot of device I have do not work in Linux sounds arrogant to me.


If you want to run Windows ... you buy a Windows machine. If you want a printer for your Windows machine ... you make sure the printer manufacturer ensures it has a Windows driver.

If you want to run Linux ... you should buy a Linux machine (unless you are an expert). If you want a printer for your Linux machine ... you should make sure the printer manufacturer ensures it has a Linux driver.
Like this manufacturer, for example:

http://hplipopensource.com/hplip-web/index.html

OK, that covers the situation for new machines and new printers. So far, the support in each case (for Linux and Windows) is equivalent.

But what about the following situations:
(a) You inherit an old printer from somewhere ... all that you typically have is paper, printer, ink and cables.

(b) you are trying to upgrade an older system to a new OS.

(c) you are trying to repair a system where the OS got corrupted or hopelessly infected.

If you don't have the printer CD ... you are in for a world of hurt if you are dealing with Windows, whereas if you are dealing with Linux you are very likely to be up and running straight away.

Therefore, despite the public perception ... printer support is actually much better in Linux than it is in Windows.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: ????
by Temcat on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 10:27 UTC in reply to "RE: ????"
Temcat Member since:
2005-10-18

OK, so you admit that Linux hardware support is not as brilliant as Greg makes it out to be. Good then.

Reply Score: 3

RE: ????
by renox on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 06:28 UTC in reply to "????"
renox Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, I noted that 'WinModems' were curiously absent of the category of software that Linux doesn't support well.
I found curious this obmission..

As for the rest, I think even if it's true that Linux's hw support is huge, researching in forums the compatibility before buying it is still a good idea.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: ????
by lemur2 on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 06:31 UTC in reply to "RE: ????"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

As for the rest, I think even if it's true that Linux's hw support is huge, researching in forums the compatibility before buying it is still a good idea.


Indeed.

However, exactly the same advice is true for Vista:

http://www.winmatrix.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=10334

And when you are talking OSX, then you of course have to be very careful to buy only Apple hardware.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: ????
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 10:24 UTC in reply to "RE: ????"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

As for the rest, I think even if it's true that Linux's hw support is huge, researching in forums the compatibility before buying it is still a good idea.


Except that I don't want to do that anymore. Some in her might have the time and patience to dive into Google and forums every time they want to buy some piece of hardware to confirm it works with Linux, and then spend time fiddling about to get it to work. Great, more power to you, if that floats your boat. I used to be like that too.

But these days, I just want my damn crap to work. When I go to the store to buy some hardware, I am 100% sure that whatever I buy will work on Windows. I've never been let down on this one. NEVER. I don't have to think about it, don't have to fiddle about, don't have to do a thing. It WILL work. And with Vista, lots of drivers are in Windows Update, so you don't even need the vendor disk or website.

I haven't tried the latest Xorg yet, but on my desktop machine, Linux craps out because of a very simple thing. I have my HDTV connected to my computer so I can watch stuff from my computer in my living room. Sadly, Xorg thinks the HDTV - on the other side of the room - is the main display, even during installation, and the only way to resolve this issue is by reaching at the back of my computer, screwing the display connector loose (VGA, DVI is for my main display) and restart the installation.

Windows does all this just fine, and without a hitch picks the right display, even during installation.

These are the things that I, in 2008, don't want to deal with anymore.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: ????
by matej on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 11:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ????"
matej Member since:
2007-05-27

Except that I don't want to do that anymore. Some in her might have the time and patience to dive into Google and forums every time they want to buy some piece of hardware to confirm it works with Linux, and then spend time fiddling about to get it to work. Great, more power to you, if that floats your boat. I used to be like that too.


There is an easier method: only buy hardware that is guaranteed to work on Linux by the manufacturer or shop. For example, most USB mass storage devices have in their specifications written that the device has Linux support (some even have a Tux logo on the package!). Another example are computers with Linux pre-installed.

If you see interesting hardware that you really want, but that tells nothing about Linux support and the shop cannot tell you whether or not it will work on Linux, just ask if you may return the device when it does not work on Linux, without having to pay an administrative fee. If they don't let you do this, ask if they have similar hardware that has Linux support. If they don't, just leave the shop without buying anything. Try to look in another shop for the same device and ask them the same questions. Repeat this until you find a Linux-friendly shop that can help you.

Recent use case of myself: over a period of 2 months, I contacted & visited about 10 shops to buy the Asus Eee PC 901 with Linux. Most of them tried to sell me the Windows version as they did not had the Linux version (in stock). Every time I refused and said I really needed the Linux version. In the end, I found a shop that could offer me the Linux version, and obviously I gave them my money.

Ok, I may spend more time in the buying process, and I may spend more money (e.g. for shipping the hardware), but I *never* have to spend time on getting my hardware to work with my OS. Hardware that does not works on Linux has no value to me, so if a company wants my money, they should be able to offer me such hardware.

These are the things that I, in 2008, don't want to deal with anymore.


Just don't buy hardware that is not assured to you to be Linux compatible. If you do that, you will not have to deal with anything.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: ????
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 12:34 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ????"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

If they don't, just leave the shop without buying anything. Try to look in another shop for the same device and ask them the same questions. Repeat this until you find a Linux-friendly shop that can help you.


Such a shop doesn't exist here. I live in the middle of nowhere, and while the nearest city has a few computer stores, they're all Windows and Apple centric. Linux plays virtually no role here (except for some netbooks they sell with Linux on it, but I overheard several shop assistants discourage people from buying them).

But again, it falls under the too-much-effort category. I want my computers to just work, and I care too little about them to invest time in them. Linux is a great operating system these days, and fully ready for the desktop (to break out that old phrase), but the real world simply hasn't caught up yet. Shops don't sell hardware that doesn't work on Windows, but they do sell lots of hardware that doesn't work on Linux. That's a cold hard fact that the Linux developers (who are doing a great job) can't do anything about.

Edited 2008-11-03 12:35 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: ????
by Valhalla on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 12:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ????"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

Thom Holwerda wrote:
-"Some in her might have the time and patience to dive into Google and forums every time they want to buy some piece of hardware to confirm it works with Linux"
Well, I don't buy new hardware so often that Googling for Linux compability is a big chore so for me it's not a problem.

Thom Holwerda wrote:
-"These are the things that I, in 2008, don't want to deal with anymore."

Then by all means stick to windows, it is after all due to it's enourmous marketshare that hardware manufacturers make sure their devices work on the windows platform (well, that is new hardware devices, getting drivers for hardware no longer manufactured when moving on to a new windows version is often a dead end).

I guess I won't be seeing you use Haiku, because it will take a looong time, if ever that you will be 100% that whatever you buy will work on it.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: ????
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 12:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ????"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I guess I won't be seeing you use Haiku, because it will take a looong time, if ever that you will be 100% that whatever you buy will work on it.


Except for the fact that Haiku is actually interesting enough to invest time in. Linux is nice and all, but it's just as boring an uninspiring as Windows and OS X. Linux, Windows, and OS X aren't fun. They're great tools, but not fun.

Stuff like Haiku, Amiga, AROS, etc. ARE fun, and as such, I'm willing to put more time in them. Kinda like girls, really.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: ????
by Valhalla on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 14:07 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: ????"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

Thom Holwerda wrote:
-"Except for the fact that Haiku is actually interesting enough to invest time in."

No, it's not a fact, it's your subjective view. I happen to share that view but I also find Linux interesting enough to invest time in it.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: ????
by gilboa on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 13:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ????"
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

*Sigh.*

So, lets see if I understand what you are saying:

Linux:
- If the manufacturer refuses to release the hardware's specs, it's Linux' fault. (Even though the Linux kernel devs offered to write drivers - free of charge [1])
- If the manufacturer delivers partially working binary drivers, it's Linux' fault.
- If the manufacturer delivers working binary drivers, but fails to support new(er) kernel, it's Linux' fault.

Windows:
- If the manufacturer delivers working drivers - score one for Windows.
- If the manufacturer delivers non-working drivers [2] - it's the manufacturer's fault.
- If the manufacturer delivers working drivers, but fail to support newer Windows releases (Win2K8?) - it's the manufacturer's fault.

Talk about double standards...

- Gilboa
[1] http://www.kroah.com/log/2007/01/29/#free_drivers
[2] Common examples:
1. My OEM usb-serial dongle (works out-of-the-box under Linux, the Windows driver installation failed on 4 different Windows machines)
2. My Cellphone USB dongle. (Doesn't work under Windows; Not supported under Linux)
3. My sister's HP all-in-one printer. (HP driver CD is POS; hplip Linux driver works just fine.)
4. My on-board nVidia Ethernet devices. (Works just fine under Linux; BSOD's my Windows XP is I manually disable/enable cycle it)
5. My parents webcam. (Driver refuses to install on XP/SP2; works out of the box on Fedora 9 + gspca-kmod.)

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: ????
by google_ninja on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 13:13 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ????"
google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

Its not about fault, its about personal experience. More people are in thoms boat right now with common hardware configurations which are unusable without hours of research then yours. If you are in the Works For Me crowd, I'm happy for you. That does not negate others experiences, and does not mean that they are not allowed to not want to waste vast amounts of time when they don't have to by using something else.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: ????
by gilboa on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 13:30 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: ????"
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

Its not about fault, its about personal experience. More people are in thoms boat right now with common hardware configurations which are unusable without hours of research then yours. If you are in the Works For Me crowd, I'm happy for you. That does not negate others experiences, and does not mean that they are not allowed to not want to waste vast amounts of time when they don't have to by using something else.


I don't disagree.
... Though, Windows does its share of problems.

But never the less, if Windows works out of the box for you, by all means, use it - but what exactly does it has to do with the subject at hand?

- Gilboa

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: ????
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 13:13 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ????"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Talk about double standards...


What are you talking about? Who's talking about fault? Who's talking about placing blame? I certainly am not! Why on earth are you turning this into a score sheet?

All I'm saying is that I don't want to LOOK for compatible hardware. I prefer to buy my hardware in real shops, and around here (I live in the countryside) this means Windows and Apple-only. That's a cold and hard fact that I can do NOTHING about.

I'm just being practical.

Edited 2008-11-03 13:14 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: ????
by gilboa on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 13:28 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: ????"
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

"Talk about double standards...


What are you talking about? Who's talking about fault? Who's talking about placing blame? I certainly am not! Why on earth are you turning this into a score sheet?

All I'm saying is that I don't want to LOOK for compatible hardware. I prefer to buy my hardware in real shops, and around here (I live in the countryside) this means Windows and Apple-only. That's a cold and hard fact that I can do NOTHING about.

I'm just being practical.
"

A. Your post was a response to renox post.
B. I guess I was also responding to other posts you made. (Initial post, I guess)
C. While not directly, the hidden agenda behind your message was: "Linux is bad because it forces me to check if my hardware is supported before I buy it" and/or "Linux should be like Windows" (Oversimplification, I know)
D. People tend to have very short memory. Anyone that use Windows NT 3.5.0/1, NT 4 and/or Windows 2K (I did) can tell you count-less horror stories about hardware problem. Any that uses Windows 2K3 now (on, say, Laptops, like we do) can tell you that same horror stories now. (I dobue dare your to find the Winmodem driver our HP notebooks)
... And last and not least.
E.. By all means use Windows. No one is shoving Linux down your throat.

- Gilboa

Edited 2008-11-03 13:31 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: ????
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 13:55 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: ????"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

A. Your post was a response to renox post.


And?

B. I guess I was also responding to other posts you made. (Initial post, I guess)


...which has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

C. While not directly, the hidden agenda behind your message was: "Linux is bad because it forces me to check if my hardware is supported before I buy it" and/or "Linux should be like Windows" (Oversimplification, I know)


While not directly, the hidden agenda behind your message was: "I kill and eat pink bunnies for breakfast" and/or "pink bunnies should be free from gravity" (oversimplification, I know).

Seriously now, you're just talking bogus now. There's no hidden message, just my personal experience and my personal situation. That's all.

D. People tend to have very short memory. Anyone that use Windows NT 3.5.0/1, NT 4 and/or Windows 2K (I did) can tell you count-less horror stories about hardware problem. Any that uses Windows 2K3 now (on, say, Laptops, like we do) can tell you that same horror stories now. (I dobue dare your to find the Winmodem driver our HP notebooks)


And that's relevant to the current situation, how, exactly? Let me rephrase what you just said:

People tend to have very short memory. Anyone that use Linux 2.0, 2.2 and/or 2.4 (I did) can tell you count-less horror stories about hardware problem. Any that uses Linux 2.4 now (on, say, Laptops, like we do) can tell you that same horror stories now. (I dobue dare your to find the Winmodem driver our HP notebooks.

It goes both ways. [/q]

E.. By all means use Windows. No one is shoving Linux down your throat.


Did anyone ever say so?

Your post is kind of gibberish, I'm sorry, it has no relation to what I said at all. Maybe a retry?

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: ????
by gilboa on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 14:03 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: ????"
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

Your post is kind of gibberish, I'm sorry, it has no relation to what I said at all. Maybe a retry?


Naah. Either I don't understand what you are saying, or you don't understand what I'm saying (most likely both).

Either way, I doubt that anything constructive can be gained by keeping this thread alive.

- Gilboa

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: ????
by sbenitezb on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 14:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ????"
sbenitezb Member since:
2005-07-22

Use Windows, for f--k sakes.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: ????
by niemau on Tue 4th Nov 2008 00:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ????"
niemau Member since:
2007-06-28

Except that I don't want to do that anymore. Some in her might have the time and patience to dive into Google and forums every time they want to buy some piece of hardware to confirm it works with Linux, and then spend time fiddling about to get it to work. Great, more power to you, if that floats your boat. I used to be like that too.


thom, as an OS enthusiast, you shouldn't have any problem with that scenario. i can understand saying that about *most users*; but, checking hardware compatibility against an OS is required of all OSes, including windows.

the truth is, you really don't need to do that much googling. there are hardware manufacturers that have good reputations... and there are hardware manufacturers that have bad reputations, with regard to supporting alternative operating systems. furthermore, there are broad classes of devices that are just not that well supported at all, and those deficiencies are fairly common knowledge. for example, wifi, or firewire audio devices.

i don't really want to get too deep into this argument... but, although i agree with you from an 'average joe' perspective, i am a little bewildered by the fact that somebody working for 'OSNews' doesn't have the patience to research an operating system. i mean, it's not at all difficult to find lists of working hardware.

Reply Score: 3

RE: ????
by Soulbender on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 09:47 UTC in reply to "????"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

What about my USB wireless device that came with non-working Windows drivers and didn't work until I had chased them down on the internet?

Reply Score: 3

Untrue
by december on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 03:34 UTC
december
Member since:
2008-11-03

Linux has bad support for MTP devices; very limited or no support at all for a lot of Firewire audio recording devices; my printer needs a filter for a secret protocol that someone cracked and wrote a basic driver for; most webcams I've tried don't work at all; and even my scanner (serial) and camera (PTP) need a few attempts before they finally connect.

I'm not even going to get started on most recent video and audio cards, and last I checked wireless chipset support wasn't exactly amazing either...

I've been using Linux since 1998 – it has come a long way – and I know that a lot of these issues are caused by minimal or nonexistent vendor support, but to assert that Linux has excellent support for the majority of devices is far-fetched and even plain lying.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Untrue
by lemur2 on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 05:11 UTC in reply to "Untrue"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I know that a lot of these issues are caused by minimal or nonexistent vendor support, but to assert that Linux has excellent support for the majority of devices is far-fetched and even plain lying.


Not at all the case ... Linux does indeed have excellent support for the vast majority of devices.

Beside that point, however, you need to re-read the thread title. The claim was not "Linux has excellent support for the majority of devices" ... the claim actually made was this: "Linux Supports More Devices Than Any Other OS, Ever".

As examples of a couple of recent OS releases (in the past few years) where the support for devices was far less than Linux, I would cite to you the folowing two highly visible commercial OSes: Vista and OSX.

Both of those support a great many fewer devices than Linux supports.

Try and connect your new Vista OS to a typical small NAS device if you don't believe me, or to an older printer model that was out of production in 2006 or before.

Reply Score: 5

Almost nothing is supported!
by vtolkov on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 04:26 UTC
vtolkov
Member since:
2006-07-26

If I count my home devices, almost nothing is supported.

My ATI videocard is not entirely supported, it is kinda works, but I have dark screen if I logout. I do not even dream about using hardware accelerated MP2 decoding, which I have under windows. My USB HDTV TVTuner is not supported at all. My USB scanner is not supported. Both of my USB webcams are not supported. My Sony e-book reader is not supported. Actually this is it.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Almost nothing is supported!
by lemur2 on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 04:43 UTC in reply to "Almost nothing is supported!"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I do not even dream about using hardware accelerated MP2 decoding, which I have under windows.


Ah, so you are running Linux on a Windows machine.

Pretty amazing that despite the very best efforts of Microsoft to ensure that drivers ONLY come from hardware manufacturers, and trying to make sure that said manufacturers ONLY supply Windows drivers ... that Linux works at all.

Yet it does.

To counter your examples, I could easily (and truthfully) tell you the following: If I count my home devices, Linux works everywhere, on every machine that I own, and with every peripheral that I own.

Since one of the machines that I own is a ARM-based NAS device ... clearly the same cannot be said for Windows.

Edited 2008-11-03 04:45 UTC

Reply Score: 4

vtolkov Member since:
2006-07-26

the very best efforts of Microsoft to ensure that drivers ONLY come from hardware manufacturers, and trying to make sure that said manufacturers ONLY supply Windows drivers

In fact, I do not believe in that conspiracy. Manufactures are just cutting expenses, by cutting development for a platform which does not have stable API and so many different versions.

And, in fact, I do not have "Windows Machine". I have all my machines assembled myself from components.

...ARM-based NAS device...

Well, this is a different story. I have four of ARM based Linux devices: Sony Reader, Nokia N800, Linksys NSLU2 and Synology. And Linux works great on them (except my webcams, though). But the subj was about PCs, wasn't it?

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"the very best efforts of Microsoft to ensure that drivers ONLY come from hardware manufacturers, and trying to make sure that said manufacturers ONLY supply Windows drivers
In fact, I do not believe in that conspiracy. Manufactures are just cutting expenses, by cutting development for a platform which does not have stable API and so many different versions. And, in fact, I do not have "Windows Machine". I have all my machines assembled myself from components.
...ARM-based NAS device...
Well, this is a different story. I have four of ARM based Linux devices: Sony Reader, Nokia N800, Linksys NSLU2 and Synology. And Linux works great on them (except my webcams, though). But the subj was about PCs, wasn't it?
"

The subject was: "Linux Supports More Devices Than Any Other OS, Ever". I can't see where it says "PCs".

How did you go with Vista and your Linksys NSLU2?

Finally, Linux does not ask that hardware manufacturers provide a driver. Linux follows the "old" tradition where the people who write the software for the OS write the software for the OS, and the people who make hardware ... make hardware.

Strange, but true.

FTA:
The thing about drivers is the vast majority, the number doesn't matter. You only care about what you have so it becomes personal. What you have is a very small number of devices. To be fair, so I originally thought that; we don't have a lot of devices that are supportive. Let's work on that. So I started the Linux Driver Project saying hey we will write any driver for anybody and maintain it for free for you--for companies. I got an underwhelming amount of responses from companies. I got a huge response from developers. I have over 300 people willing to help out with this.


http://www.linuxdriverproject.org/

Free Linux drivers written for any hardware manufacturer, with NDA if they want it. All they need do is apply.

Reply Score: 4

vtolkov Member since:
2006-07-26

The subject was: "Linux Supports More Devices Than Any Other OS, Ever". I can't see where it says "PCs".

Hm. Really. But Dell and others mentioned, they are producing PCs.

How did you go with Vista and your Linksys NSLU2?

Simple: I do not go with Vista.

Finally, Linux does not ask that hardware manufacturers provide a driver. Linux follows the "old" tradition where the people who write the software for the OS write the software for the OS, and the people who make hardware ... make hardware.

This is an answer, actually. So most of devices do not have a driver.

...I got a huge response from developers. I have over 300 people willing to help out with this...

300 is a small number, considering that how many of them really can write a driver. How this driver will be tested and supported. It is quite usual, that there is some undocumented knowledge in the mind of someone who designed the device, which is obviously unknown to some random guys who willing to "help". No, it does not work.

One of links about Windows 7 says that they it has about 1.5Gbytes of printer drivers. Can you imagine that?

Reply Score: 1

ilinux Member since:
2008-11-03

I agree with this point of view
http://www.oklinux.cn

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"Finally, Linux does not ask that hardware manufacturers provide a driver. Linux follows the "old" tradition where the people who write the software for the OS write the software for the OS, and the people who make hardware ... make hardware.
This is an answer, actually. So most of devices do not have a driver. "

Nice try, but no cigar. As the thread subject says, Linux has more drivers for more devices than any other OS, ever.

"...I got a huge response from developers. I have over 300 people willing to help out with this...
300 is a small number, considering that how many of them really can write a driver. "

All of them can write a driver ... that is why they joined the "Linux driver project".

There are an estimated 1.5 million FOSS developers planet-wide, so 300 is indeed a relatively small number of developers compared with that. However, 300 driver developers is a huge number compared to the amount of work they have on their plate right now, for some reason.

How this driver will be tested and supported.


In the same manner as all FOSS software. Once written, it will go into the kernel tree.

It is quite usual, that there is some undocumented knowledge in the mind of someone who designed the device, which is obviously unknown to some random guys who willing to "help". No, it does not work.


Pfft. All that is required is a specification for the hardware. The hardware is the hardware after all ... it is not like that ups and changes on you at any time.

Of course it works. In fact it works better than any other method of writing software. Read the thread title: "Linux Supports More Devices Than Any Other OS, Ever". How did that situation arise if "it didn't work" as you claim?

Hmmmm?

One of links about Windows 7 says that they it has about 1.5Gbytes of printer drivers. Can you imagine that?


If you try to connect a Windows client to a new network printer, the Windows server tries to download .dlls to the client. This is yet another place where, in an attempt to be proprietary, binary, secret and Windows-exclusive, Windows gets the interface in totally the wrong place. Highly inappropriate, and bound to give you all sorts of printers problems if you try to change the version of OS on either the server or the clients.

Anyway, this is why the printer drivers for Windows take up 1.5Gbytes. Even for the relatively small number of printer types that Windows Vista supports out of the box, that is a lot of closed binary executable, different as it is for each different printer.

In Linux, printer types are defined by PPD files. They are relatively small text files. Linux has only about a dozen or so different executable printer drivers, so that all the different printer types are supported by different definition files which tell effectively the drivers what to do and how to format the data and send the appropriate printer commands at the appropriate times.

The Linux print server appears to all clients (Windows clients, Mac OSX clients or Linux clients regardless) as if it was an lpr queue to a postscript printer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PostScript_Printer_Description

In this way, Linux can support more printers out of the box than Vista, and do it with far, far less disk space.

Edited 2008-11-03 06:28 UTC

Reply Score: 4

vtolkov Member since:
2006-07-26

Read the thread title: "Linux Supports More Devices Than Any Other OS, Ever". How did that situation arise if "it didn't work" as you claim?

Well, my point was that this is just unlikely to be true. That's it. This is a kind of self-satisfying mantra I read all the time in corporate emails. "Our business is strong, our company is the best and so on."

I am not satisfied with Windows and I do test Linux distributives constantly trying to find out, if it can replace Windows for me. For now it can not, mostly because of problems with drivers, and most important of them because of problems with video-drivers. We could say that drivers do exist, but their quality are bad so it is practically equal to non-existance. BTW, I do not remember installing Linux without editing of xorg.conf.

So repeating loudly "It supports More Devices Than Any Other OS" is bad for Linux, because it hides real world behind false believes, which left us the only possibility to explain difference by existence of some hidden conspiracy.

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"Read the thread title: "Linux Supports More Devices Than Any Other OS, Ever". How did that situation arise if "it didn't work" as you claim?

Well, my point was that this is just unlikely to be true.
"

Of course it is true.

Wipe a hard disk on any PC. Put in a Windows install CD, of any version. Install the OS. After the basic OS is running, see how much of the hardware is functional. Barely any.

Wipe a hard disk on any PC. Put in a Linux install CD, of any version. Install the OS. After the basic OS is running, see how much of the hardware is functional. Most of it, if not all of it.

QED.

I am not satisfied with Windows and I do test Linux distributives constantly trying to find out, if it can replace Windows for me. For now it can not, mostly because of problems with drivers, and most important of them because of problems with video-drivers. We could say that drivers do exist, but their quality are bad so it is practically equal to non-existance.


Disagree.

BTW, I do not remember installing Linux without editing of xorg.conf.


Try Ubuntu 8.10. It doesn't even have xorg.conf.

So repeating loudly "It supports More Devices Than Any Other OS" is bad for Linux, because it hides real world behind false believes, which left us the only possibility to explain difference by existence of some hidden conspiracy.


It is absolutely true to say "Linux supports more devices than any other OS".

Proclaiming it loudly from the rooftops just might help to dispel some of the FUD being deliberately spread about Linux.

Reply Score: 4

rtfa Member since:
2006-02-27

300 is a small number, considering that how many of them really can write a driver.

Have you personally asked everyone of the 300 if they can write a driver?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Almost nothing is supported!
by ari-free on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 06:31 UTC in reply to "Almost nothing is supported!"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

my experience was that ubuntu couldn't recognize my monitor's optimal refresh rate until I manually configured it by looking up some obscure numbers on the web and figuring out how to edit a x.org config file. All this under horrible headache producing flicker. I can't imagine the average Windows/Mac user going through this just to try out linux. There's no excuse; it's not 1992 anymore.

Reply Score: 2

Jokel Member since:
2006-06-01

Well - that's the problem with people taking Ubuntu to be some standard or something. I have the same problem, but ONLY with Ubuntu. It is not a problem from detecting your card - it is a problem not detecting the right monitor. The card is supported, but with the wrong parameters.

When I use Mandriva or openSUSE you can change the monitor type and/or brand during the setup process. Needless to say you can allays set the right resolution/refresh rate.

Ubuntu is a nice ditribution, but lacks the finessess other distibutions have.

Oh - and by the way. All devices I have in my home (TV-card, Sound card, wirless mouse, storagedevice, Joystick, network, Printer etc. etc.) are supported "out of the box" by Linux. Some of these devices are only supported in windows if you use some obscure, crash-prone drivers (and no - they are not old devices). So - for me Linux supports indeed more hardware than windows does..

Reply Score: 4

ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

"Ubuntu is a nice ditribution, but lacks the finessess other distibutions have. "

and the same may be true with other distros but for other reasons. There is no consistent linux experience. People have a right to expect more from ubuntu because it is the distro that is pushed the most to everyday users.

Edited 2008-11-03 10:02 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Bending Unit Member since:
2005-07-06

Happens all the time. At home X don't think resolutions above 1600x1200 exists.

At work, more resolutions. All at glorious 60 Hz.

Or less.

I've been a Linux user for 10 years so I kinda expect it but as said, it is completely unacceptable in 2008.

Edited 2008-11-03 17:22 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

Considering all the driver downloading and restarting necessary in Windows, it does impress me when I boot up a Linux live CD and find that most of my hardware just works.

Unfortunately there are always a handful of devices that don't function, or don't work as well as they do in Windows. Some things, like webcams and budget printers, are cheap and easy to replace. Others, like my E-MU soundcard, cost more than a copy of Windows, and negate the Linux price advantage.

Of course there are missing features as well. A lot of the time there are configuration options provided by the device's utilities in Windows that are missing in Linux. Other times you have to start messing with config files to access advanced features. A real pain if you install Linux thinking that your devices are fully supported.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by manjabes
by manjabes on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 08:30 UTC
manjabes
Member since:
2005-08-27

yeah, "supports" more devices than any other thing on earth.

Like on my case, I specifically configured my new thinkpad to be as linux-compliant as ever - ditched the (superior) nvidia graphics in favor of the linux-friendly intel, leaving fancy stuff like webcams behind etc.
lo and behold - when receiving the damn thing and slapping opensuse 11 on it - the first thing that strikes me is that wireless (intel 4965, ffs!) does not work. apparently, because of the hw on-off switch that the computer has. THE most linux-friendly wireless card does not work because of some random little detail.
And it's proudly proclaimed as being "supported". But when you look at it a little more thoroughly, all sorts of excuses and conditions start popping up. IF you haven't got a hw switch, IF you are right handed and IF you live in the GMT timezone it MIGHT work. otherwise, you're shit outta luck. but we STILL support it!!

Coming from a no-name laptop also running opensuse, the fact that I can suspend to ram is nice, the fact that it's (usually) fast and boots up much faster than windows is also cool BUT...
* The thinkpad utilities on windows are much saner than the linux counterparts. I can log in with my fingerprints /note the plural/ (instead of only having the possibility to save ONE print and use it to log into the console only (not KDE).
* wireless does NOT work. no hope on the horizon either. kinda strange, concerning that the ipw2200 on the noname worked as a charm
* random hangings of the whole X server now and then...
* No ability to switch on and off bluetooth and wifi separately, like on windows. (or maybe via some cryptic command known only to its creator)
etc...etc....

I'm still holding on with suse on that machine because of the nice things...but the "it works" state on windows appeals more and more each day. I can handle installing drivers once, to achieve that.

Reply Score: 3

comparisons
by ameasures on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 12:07 UTC
ameasures
Member since:
2006-01-09

Support for Linux hardware is extensive - no doubt about that.

Windows always works with the very latest components but probably not with those that are (say) 8 years old; and Linux is the reverse. In the coming times of austerity - this may be significant.

Linux drivers come with the distro and Windows drivers usually come on a CD that is helpfully labelled "DRIVERS" without any indication of which device!!

With Windows I spend time hunting for the driver CD and then hunting online - which can require something akin to a PhD. With Linux I spend time recompiling kernels and tweaking obscure configuration files just to get WiFi to work. Most of us have better things to do with our time.

OSX supports a large range of printers, cameras etc without needing to look for the CD that got lost or fiddle with configuration files- it is a dream. Of course it doesn't support everything which is irritating but then it never claimed to.

Greg K-H seems a stand up guy having read previous interviews so I respect his input. I think though that there needs to be a deal of infrastructure work required to provide end users with a seamless experience.

With that infrastructure in place then they can turn of (say) Nvidia - give us more information or yours will be the PITA hardware that consumers will bypass. This would be close to having Linux certified hardware.

On the subject of certified hardware; it still rankles with me that, on Windows, almost no one knows whether their hardware has drivers that are certified. Yet they feel obliged to compare prices with Apples where all drivers are certified.

Reply Score: 2

supports != runs well
by sigzero on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 16:36 UTC
sigzero
Member since:
2006-01-03

Enough said...

Reply Score: 2

oh yeah ?
by Tom Janowitz on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 22:52 UTC
Tom Janowitz
Member since:
2005-12-05

Try this:
Leadtek WinFast PxPVR2200 PCI-Ex1 (cx23885). I've got it for over a year now. Still waiting. Almost without hope for proper support. On windows it at least just works. Debian lenny w/ 2.6.26-1-amd64 here.

Reply Score: 1

RE: oh yeah ?
by cyclops on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 23:21 UTC in reply to "oh yeah ?"
cyclops Member since:
2006-03-12

No PCI-E TV cards are supported. I know this because I didn't buy one of those. That said there are TV cards that are XP/XP media center and Vista only TV Cards.

...but then on Linux you can record what you want, rather than Vista with blocks recording. Or use say software that improves over time rather than is stuck in a timeloop with your OS

The thing is though once these are supported...all based on these cards will be supported for like forever, and something like a TV card albeit the things are peanuts once you have bought one thats it.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: oh yeah ?
by Tom Janowitz on Tue 4th Nov 2008 08:48 UTC in reply to "RE: oh yeah ?"
Tom Janowitz Member since:
2005-12-05

So in other words - all devices are supported on Linux ... except those that aren't ? ;)

Reply Score: 1

I'm qualified to talk about this :)
by cyclops on Mon 3rd Nov 2008 23:08 UTC
cyclops
Member since:
2006-03-12

Hi all, first thank you Thom for not posting a "my take" and simply trolling with a "Linux drivers are shit".

So I will go with my experiences over the last couple of days with Ubuntu 8.10.

I moved 2 120GB hard drives which have 2 98SE installs and a copy of Ubuntu residing on some old Compaq. The Ubuntu was installed simply because the 98 had got a little flaky, and is used to browse the web with firefox and transfer files over the windows network(something that only worked late in the Ibex cycle). I found a motherboard with 2600+ ripped from some mystery Acer box with a sis chipset. A quick check with my latest toy a Ubuntu 8.10 USB startup disk and then I installed the hard drivers. The thing is I did nothing with my Ubuntu and it just works...and like a bullet 2 I'm surprised how fast this hardware works. Now the 98 worked less well, lets just say it hits a known 98/XP problem DOS USB set-up in the bios and sis 7001 pciusb error notably I can't use a USB keyboard through it. Thats ignoring the time I've spent looking for drivers installing drivers etc etc.

Also I was looking at a portable with XP on it that booted to a flashing cursor...not very helpful. Quick as a flash I'm there with my new Ubuntu 8.10 USB startup disk I was presented with rather a slow Ubuntu!? and no working wireless(dmesg revealed some firmware or other not available)

So whats the state of Linux drivers, increasingly more devices supported better, with the usual long term support, but still plagued with albeit decreasing garbage proprietary/closed source/licensing problems. Its the way its always been..only its not unusual to buy an item in a box and it have supported by Linux 2.6.X and above on it.

If you use A Microsoft OS its important to have A Linux Distribution on CD/USB/Partition/Bios ;) if the worst does happen or simply troubleshoot a problem.

Where the drivers really stand out is simply their licensing, Microsoft Drivers are well Distributed everywhere(soon to be under Microsoft's control shudder DRM shudder again). The freedom of simply installing an keeping my OS and just buying hardware is simply fantastic...and one that simply chuggs forward getting better and better my 98 is still 98 my XP is still XP and Vista is well unfortunately still Vista.

The funniest thing though is the statement of pulling linux supported devices from a list, particularly for Wireless I've wanted to know a measure of what is actually supported. Even though you can blindly buy a pre-built PC or hardware of a shelf the chances that it will work under Linux are incredibly high, you can't for Vista...or XP anymore you have to check. If your hardware is supported under linux, chances are it will continue to improve under linux. I'd have said for even windows that you buy from a reputable companies offering support but Nvidia/Creative with Vista have changed that.

The main thing is Linux makes me buy hardware...lots of it. Ignoring the cost I save on the OS my PC its the same PC gone through many different cases/RAM/CPU/Hard Drives/Motherboards and the leftovers have filled the rooms of my friends and family. I suspect I will have a X58 motherboard with a intel chip on quite soon, and I know it will be supported before its released.

Reply Score: 2

Gee so why doesn't it work...?
by quatermass on Tue 4th Nov 2008 10:44 UTC
quatermass
Member since:
2005-08-03

I've a ATI Radeon 7000 AGP card and a DELL Widescreen LCD bought 6 months ago and yet if I install Ubunto 8 it simply thinks I've got a 800x600 screen instead of 1680x1050.

I then have to dig out the technical specs of my monitor, rewrite some X graphics text file and along the way I had to inform the Ubuntu people that the page on how to do this manual tweaking was out-of-date and didn't work.

Give me Windows any day. Linux needs to get its documentation house in order. Take a look at the number of forums around of people struggling for help.

It's no longer good enough to just write new and clever software and then skip writing about how to use it. :-)

I'm a IT bod, so I managed. But a ordinary non-techie person would not have a clue.

Reply Score: 1