Problems Addressed

I really get ticked off by writers who assume something and produce shoddy work. Matt Hartley ticked me off today in “Problems Linux Enthusiasts Refuse to Address“. His thesis:
what I find frustrating about the entire process is that nearly all of the Linux distributions targeting new users don’t bother to explain the challenges that exist with using “made for Windows” hardware combined with their distro.

The fact is the vast majority of hardware works with GNU/Linux these days. Dell demands it. HP demands it. Lenovo demands it.

There is little hardware “Made for” that other OS out there. Almost everything these days is made for x86 PCs including those that will run MacOS and GNU/Linux. I have encountered a number of modems that only had drivers for that other OS but they are easily replaced for $20 these days. I have seen a few printers with no simple way to run on GNU/Linux but they are very rare. The last place I worked had a dozen different HP printers and all but one worked with GNU/Linux. We did lots of printing and never needed it.

So, hardware compatibility is an issue to be dealt with if it arises. Otherwises it is just more information overload for new users. They would have the same issues migrating from XP to “7”. It’s not an OS issue but an issue for the hardware makers. There are a bunch of OEMs in the Linux Foundation. Does anyone believe they would be there if they did not care whether their equipment worked with GNU/Linux?

Here they are: HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, LG, Dell, NEC and there are a bunch that make ARMed stuff too.

Linux hardware compatibility is quite good enough that it should not be a concern for newbies. I remember HCL at RedHat but I haven’t needed that in five years or more. RedHat doesn’t seem to bother except for server parts. It’s just not worth the bother. Here’s what Fedora writes about HCL:

This project has been axed in its early stages as a fair amount of the Fedora community decided that with todays development pace and the vast amount and range of hardware available, an official HCL would be a waste of resources. Other ideas were thrown about including an ‘Hardware Incompatiblity List’ but these have been dismissed also.

Due to the nature of open source, Doncho and I are free to continue this project if we wish, and Doncho may continue to do so, but I no longer feel motivated to continue without the Fedora Documentation Project and the majority of the Fedora community behind me.

The Hardware Compatiblity List as last updated in Early January 2005 stands below. Feel free to resurrect and maintain it if you feel compelled to do so. This is the land of the free.

No one needs an HCL these days. If there is an issue Google is your friend. GNU/Linux is ready for newbies. My wife, who is perpetual newbie only asks me about one question a week and none are about hardware compatibility.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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13 Responses to Problems Addressed

  1. ray says:

    a works for ubuntu sticker? That might help.

  2. If Apple doesn’t want them synced then if people want to sync they should not buy Apple.

    This is an in-your-face example of Software Freedom in action.

    While the iPods are numerous there are a thousand million PCs out there and a bunch of parts on each with which Linux works. If you want your iPod to synch, tell Apple. I have seen iPods pull stuff in from web-servers so there are ways of synching, just not automatically.

    see, for example, gtkpod
    “The iPod has largely been an USB device yet there are older models of iPods that used IEEE1394/ / firewire for their connection interface. Historically, it took something of an effort for linux to recognise the iPod model correctly. However, this situation has greatly improved in recent times where it is now possible to simply plug the iPod into a USB port and have your distro recognise it straight off. gtkpod first and foremost relies on the successful mounting of a recognised iPod.”

  3. Thank you for your honesty.

  4. Desktop Linux doesn’t support iPods. The best selling consumer electronics device on the planet can’t be synced legally, or illegally, on any Linux desktop. So saying Linux supports “most” hardware is decidedly not true. But by all means, claim some sort of anecdotal evidence why this isn’t a problem, like “I don’t use iPods”.

    Things get worse when you leave the consumer electronics sector and venture into the arts. Want to write some music using an MAudio interface? Good luck finding full-featured supported drivers that work with your audio stack. Want to use a Wacom Cintique to do digital painting? Sorry pal. The list goes on.

  5. John Bilderback says:

    “I wonder how much goes to the “technological evangelism”/astroturfing.”

    I get $10 USD for each 50 word comment I write. We have a site we log into where we point the auto script to check against our name and the comment.

    A heuristics engine checks for certain words. For example, if we use the word “Microsoft”, it gets counted as 3 words. Punctuation doesn’t count.

    We get bonus points (words) if we link back to Microsoft.

    I currently make about $700 USD per month. It doesn’t quite pay for a living but it makes for extra spending money.

  6. That’s what comes of radical change to what works. That is why I fear Wayland and doing away with X. X works really well for me and I love transparency on the network.

    M$ spends $1billion per annum on advertising. That is huge for a monopoly. I wonder how much goes to the “technological evangelism”/astroturfing.

  7. oldman and I go way back to He is a real person. He has a real job and sometimes is busy.

    I don’t know that astroturfers are all for hire. I think some get meaning for their lives for doing it. I know I do… 😉

  8. To each his own. I need my computers to do what I want, not phoning home, not showing video games faster than I can view them, not re-re-rebooting, and not slowing down.

  9. Bob Parker says:

    The only hardware compatibility issue I’ve had in the last 10 years or so running various flavours of Linux and lately Windows 7 has been with the latter. It can’t properly drive my on board video display. As a consequence my display on Windows runs at about 5% the speed of my Ubuntu system. Moreover the GUI interface on W7 is loathsome in my opinion. I accept that this may be because I use Ubuntu 99% of the time and boot W7 only under duress.

    But Microsoft are not all bad. Who else would pay commentators who know little or nothing about Linux to write about it?

  10. Dan Serban says:

    It seems there was a shift in PR agencies assigned to this blog.
    The old guard of astroturfers “oldman”, “D-G” and other fake personas have moved on to infect other blogs with FUD.
    This “John Bilderback” character seems to be signalling a new wave of PR-douchebags-for-hire, one that throws long-since-refuted FUD soundbites out there and doesn’t even bother to make a complete argument.

  11. Yonah says:

    I second the horrible UI opinion. I’ve used Gnome, KDE, and XFCE. All crap. KDE looks the most modern and appealing, but even after fudging around enough to get faster video drivers (Acer Aspire One / Intel GMA500) installed, it was still sluggish to use and filled with too much inconsistency and strange errors.

    Linux Desktop environments look how they are made, like a hodge-podge collection of different ideas by different people, none of whom can agree on what looks good or where things should go. Fonts seem poorly aligned, things have either too much space or too little space between them. Oh, I can rotate the calculator at a 15 degree angle? How useful is that? It isn’t, and I can’t help but wonder if all the time spent programing such a trick could have been better spent elsewhere. A case of too many cooks spoiling the soup, I think.

    By the way, among gamers who use Steam, Windows XP only has a 24% stake.

  12. I have seen kids from 8 to 21 years old in schools work with no problems in GNU/Linux with both XFCE4 and GNOME. I have seen adults use them too, the oldest being about 75 (It’s not polite to ask a lady her age but she killed offsurvived three husbands.).

    The user interface on most Linux system is very similar to XP which is on 40% of PCs by most reckoning. That cannot be the roadblock. I think it is the lack of exposure on retail shelves. Folks cannot buy what is not there. Most people buy their PCs in big-box stores. That’s M$’s doing. Although they no longer have a rule against selling PCs with another OS, M$ established the habit.

  13. John Bilderback says:

    Linux’s real problem (although hardware is an issue) is the horrible UI. That’s the real reason why users can’t use Linux on the desktop.

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