Depends on what hardware

Story: Linux and hardware still have trouble getting alongTotal Replies: 0
Author Content
Void_Main

Jul 31, 2004
10:05 AM
I run Linux on *far* more hardware than Windows will run on. For instance, at a high level I am running Linux not only on Intel based hardware but I am running it on Alpha, Sparc, and MIPS processor based machines. Of course this is only a very small sample of the processors that Linux supports. As far as peripheral hardware and for some big Intel distributors many times the hardware is *designed* to be proprietary and closed. Many even put a big sticker right on the front that says "Designed for Micro$oft Windows". They gotta get that big Microsoft discount. You should also look at it as a "Warning" label.

The article even mentions the "winmodem". This is a beast that was designed to take critical modem functionality out of hardware and place it in software. From a technical standpoint this has always been a bad idea because you are moving the work load from the peripheral to the main processor. The claimed reason for doing this is to bring down manufacturing costs and passing the savings on to the user. I would have no problem with this IF the hardware and software were open. Hardware modems have standards and standard ways of interfacing with them. With a "winmodem" the hardware details are kept secret along with the software that is written to communicate with it. If the hardware details were open and documented then the software can be written to interface with it. Winmodems, winprinters, etc are another lock-in tool as much as they are designed to save the user money.

Because of this, I do a small amount of simple research before I buy hardware and I buy hardware that is not closed. Not only do I find that this hardware usually works better than the closed hardware but Linux works better than Windows with this hardware in nearly all cases. Even though this is not a "Linux" problem (something Linux developers have any control over) it will be a problem until Linux gains more market share and the vendors have no choice but to open up and support Linux. For me, it's not a problem at all because usually the only hardware that doesn't work with Linux is a cheap pile of steaming mashed potatoes and you would be better off with another product anyway. Until total domination you just have to do a little homework. The sooner everyone does this the faster it will be a non-issue.

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