Today as I cleaned the house, with some nice tunes via Amarok → cool streams, it came to my mind that I now have/had 6 different systems, and 2 others I know of where there is Linux installed and no tweaking, configuring and other nasty things were to do to get these system running. Only some proprietary graphics drivers were (not on all) systems installed to have suspend to RAM and suspend to disk working and two times the help of google was needed to get special stuff to work.
So I wonder: is this always repeated story that Linux has such a bad hardware support just a myth?
here are some details to the systems I know running Linux perfectly:
old computer of mine, made in year 2000, everything standard, ATI Radeon graphics, AMD Athlon 1600 processor, with an older Creative Soundblaster soundcard, ran every version of Ubuntu for 4 years since 2007 without any problem - is now dead and recycled
newer computer of me: AMD Athlon Dualcore 6000+, Nvidia Geforce 8400 GS, Creative Soundblaster Audigy, ran several Linuxes (Fedora, Ubuntu, Suse, Debian, Mandriva) without any issue - stored in Germany, waiting for me to come back
current computer: Intel core duo, 2 graphics: Intel GMA 3150 and Nvidia Geforce 460 GTX, Atheros WLAN, USB 3.0, multicardreader, Intel sound… the tower is full with harddrives and every slot is taken by a piece of hardware. This hardware was just bought, without searching whether it works with Linux or not. And it just works. All peripherals, like keyboard (special keys!), wireless mouse (special keys), webcam, bluetooth dongle, etc. were also just bought without thinking about “will it work?” - and they just work, although for the wireless mouse I needed xbindkeys to assign the special keys. But the keys themselves were recognised by the system without any further action.
older Laptop, Lenovo 3000N200 with Nvidia Geforce 7300 GO graphics, ran all Ubuntu versions since late 2008 and Mandriva, Suse, Sabayon, Mint and Fedora with just one small issue: Ubuntu 8.10 did not recognise the cardreader, so I needed to put a special script into the autostart to get it working. All Ubuntu versions after that recognised the cardreader, as well as all other Linux distros which ran on it. - its nearly dead, but still runs, right now Kubuntu 11.04
current Laptop, Sony Vaio VPCEB3J1E with Intel GMA 3500 graphics, ran Fedora 15 and now runs openSUSE 11.4 without any issue, everything just works, even the special keys on the keyboard
Netbook HP Mini 210 3530: everything just works in openSUSE 11.4
the computer of a friend of me: runs Ubuntu since 2008 (8.04, 9.10 and now 10.04), ATI Radeon X1500 graphics, older Hauppauge soundcard, it´s an old machine which was really working hard with the previous installed Windows XP, but now runs like a racing machine
Laptop of a friend of me: Lenovo G550, runs Ubuntu 10.04, but has one issue: no scrolling via touchpad possible. But all the other things just work.
These systems are all totally different. different hardware, different systems, different usage, but as far as I can see, no matter which Linux distro was installed, they just worked. In the beginning of my Linux Life I always was scared when I bought Hardware: “hopefully I get it to work”, but it always just worked. The only google-action was necessary as I wanted to have the special keys of my Logitech wireless mouse working. So I needed some advice, read a hint regarding xbindkeys and how to set it up… done. So since the last year or so, I just go to Frys or Bestbuy, or surf on Amazon and buy the stuff - it works anyway.
So I am asking myself again: is this all times repeated “ah the hardware support of Linux is so bad” just a myth? Or am I just lucky? Or is my choice of hardware too narrow?
Right now I am convinced that it is a myth. Any other opinions?
Older hardware will usually work. When there is new hardware, and the manufacturer did not provide sufficient information, it may take a while for the drivers to catch up.
I have not had a system where I couldn’t use linux. However, with a recently bought laptop, I am having to use “nomodeset” to prevent freezes due to problems in the video support. One effect is that I do not get full video resolution.
yeah, there are some older computers in my list, but at least 4 of them are not old. They were bought recently and delivered with Win7. So what is “old” in terms of hardware? 1/2 year after introduction to the market?
I would say that the kernel developers and thousands of tireless volunteers do everything they can to support the very latest hardware and that literately thousands of hardware devices are now supported in Linux. What is lacking is that many hardware companies do not see the benefit is providing immediate and direct support for Linux in the form of open source code. The kernel is written in a way that firmware can be loaded when needed if open source code is not available. It is a bridge between the open source free software world and the pay as you go closed world. I am happy to be a member of the Linux community and feel that Linux software is simply the best. And of course openSUSE is surely the best distribution one could even load and use. Not all hardware works in Linux, but oddly, not all hardware works in Windows either, the intended target for most. You can do very well loading Linux with most any computer that you might buy. As always, there could be a device or two that might not be fully supported, but its no different really for any one out there, no matter the OS you decide to use.
Yes; had an interesting example yesterday. A friend with a brand new Windows setup connected to an external monitor; when he disconnected, his laptop continued to display in the dimensions of the external monitor and not his laptop, even after rebooting. Whenever I connect to an external monitor, my laptop screen reverts to its correct dimensions when I disconnect the external monitor.
From what i read, there is some truth to it. It is mainly around laptops though.
As a general rule, anything thats brand new like a technology might not work. So its best to have hardware that is proven.
As i do not believe in luck, its best to relay on facts. Also, PC’s are very different. Sometimes it works, sometimes not as it was with Gnome 3. Other did not have the problem i had.
Unfortunately IMO it’s not a myth. Just look at the GPU drivers for Linux. I think there isn’t one that matches the performance of a windows driver, if there is I’ll be glad to be proven wrong. My opinion is that no GPU chip vendor cares about the Linux support because the market is just too small. There are servers of course but GPU in most cases is not a key for those and can be safely ignored if the Linux driver seems to be working.
The best news is that the hardware support is a lot better than it used to be something like 5 years ago. The best example from my perspective are WiFi chips. There were times You had to use ndiswrapper in order to get connected at all but nowadays most people jumping to Linux are not aware it ever existed because the WiFi vendors support for Linux is so much better. Unfortunately I also get the impression we are being neglected a bit. As an example ath9k module does not support the WiFi at N speeds, which the windows driver does and did since I bought the Asus laptop from my description.
There is also a lot of hardware that is supported on win XP and is not supported on vista or win7, where it works perfectly well on any Linux without any additional driver installation (USB GSM modems for example). So You might say that hardware support is doggy on the newer windows as well
I read the other day that professional GPU’s are supported by these co-operations well. But of course you pay a much higher price and 3D is not necessarily a trade since they concentrate on vector calculation for CAD.
Yes, i feel the suffering for 3D or regular performance as well. It could be better but its ok. I really hope that the nouveau drivers will eventually be better.
Can’t tell how it will be in the future, but if there are more chips that also implement DRM it may be quite a ruff ride.
(There is) Some truth. I have a turtle beach Santa Cruz pci sound card. It works but only in software stereo mode. The card is capable of 5.1 in hardware. Also a recently disconnected Compaq c3100 all in one usb printer. I had it for years could find no driver for it whatsoever. For my purposes it would still be perfectly good today.
Of course there was the end of AMD/ATI support for my old Radeon 9500 pro. It left me with a working driver but there were some minor issues that made it impossible to say it worked perfectly. Then the release of openSUSE I was using it in reached end of life. I could have moved on and used the open source driver, but a large part of what I use the system for is to play games and unfortunately those drivers relatively suck for that. No derogatory inference intended.
My old Logitech Quickcam 4000 works but is slow in Linux. Not sure if it’s the drivers, apps or both.
Oh and I have this little Quickshot joystick. The buttons work but the yoke doesn’t. Did at one time. Don’t know why it stopped in newer releases. Still worked in Windows.
I suppose it depends on how you classify it. Mostly I’m pretty well off and happy with my fortunes but I can’t say the support is perfect under the current circumstances.
Actually I have an old Aureal 4 channel sound card that has beautiful sound that only works in software stereo too last I checked. The joy didn’t work at all with that one. I suppose if I can never get it to work with the Santa Cruz again I may put that fantastic card back in here.
I know a lot of this is old stuff and honestly I’m not trying to irritate anyone, but well, I have old stuff.
You will never have perfection, as the manage ment guru W Edwards Deming used to point out; so there will always be some hardware which will not work perfectly with an operating system. The question is how close you are to perfection; I have a 2000, a 2004 and a 2009 machine, all of them happily running up to date Linux distributions. Windows simply cannot do that - so who is closer to perfection in supporting the hardware I have?
You need to be honest in the definition.
Support for old hardware will get dropped at one point. People always saying that with Linux there is no problem. I know that some hardware, because of age, is not supported anymore. Same is true with Windows. Manufacture drop support all the time especially if its based on a older operating system.
Perhaps if its a popular hardware or chip, maybe it will be supported for a longer time.
On Tue, 28 Jun 2011 18:36:03 +0000, JoergJaeger wrote:
> You need to be honest in the definition. Support for old hardware will
> get dropped at one point. People always saying that with Linux there is
> no problem. I know that some hardware, because of age, is not supported
> anymore. Same is true with Windows. Manufacture drop support all the
> time especially if its based on a older operating system.
> Perhaps if its a popular hardware or chip, maybe it will be supported
> for a longer time.
And indeed there is newer hardware that some versions of Windows don’t
support. I know of a very large company (I won’t say who) who ordered
something like 15,000 Toshiba laptops and then wanted to put Win7 (or
Vista, I forget which) on them. The machines had the specs, but Toshiba
told this company that they wouldn’t support Win7/Vista on it or create
drivers for it.
The thing is, everyone can come up with anecdotal examples of something
that isn’t supported on Linux. The question, though, is whether in
general hardware support for Linux has improved. It has, largely
through the efforts of people like Greg KH to get HW manufacturers to
either develop OSS drivers for their hardware or to release specs so
drivers can be created.
That is perhaps true. I read that also on c’t. Can’t tell from own experience since i don’t update that often and my hardware is not that old.
My only experience in recent memory is Brother printer driver. Due the switch from XP to Vista features were missing. I see that as a forced buying decision.
But if someone doesn’t upgrade the computer and runs only the operating system that came with it, there might be no problem. Problems usually come if you change one of these things. Either hardware or operating system (version).
In the windows world you have not that much choice really. Either it works or it doesn’t (Win7 Ready?), or you can make your driver. Perhaps.
On Tue, 28 Jun 2011 23:36:02 +0000, JoergJaeger wrote:
> That is perhaps true. I read that also on c’t. Can’t tell from own
> experience since i don’t update that often and my hardware is not that
> My only experience in recent memory is Brother printer driver. Due the
> switch from XP to Vista features were missing. I see that as a forced
> buying decision.
> But if someone doesn’t upgrade the computer and runs only the operating
> system that came with it, there might be no problem. Problems usually
> come if you change one of these things. Either hardware or operating
> system (version).
> In the windows world you have not that much choice really. Either it
> works or it doesn’t (Win7 Ready?), or you can make your driver. Perhaps.
I’m not really sure what you’re saying “is perhaps true” - if you mean
the Toshiba laptop issue, I know it’s true, because I know one of the
people who was involved in it.
In general, I would say it is. When I first started using Linux back in 2004, I used to notice some problems with gaming mice, printers, scanners, graphics cards and routers. Mind you, I was using Gentoo, and many of these problems might be distribution-specific - some things that wouldn’t even work when you had tried to configure them manually would work out of the box using Knoppix’s live CD. The worst of all were ATI’s graphics drivers; it was the easiest thing in the world to be unable to access your desktop environment out of a sudden.
Right now, I am having more trouble with configuring printers/scanners and gaming mice on Windows than on openSUSE. While everything seems to work automatically on openSUSE (including all the buttons and wheels!), many times Windows requires ~100MB drivers for a specific printer (which of course, you must download from the manufacturer’s website) and some mice won’t work at all if you haven’t actually logged in to Windows, which means you might be unable to use your Windows installation if your mouse dies. Plug and Pray.