Linux Hardware Support Myths and Legends

As I briefly mentioned in my recent article on the influence of the Linux desktop, with a new major Windows release just around the corner we are being treated to an onslaught of articles proclaiming the failings of Linux on the desktop. You'd think that such articles wouldn't be necessary if the Linux desktop had indeed failed. One recurring theme is the idea that Linux has terrible hardware support. The premise is always that Linux is impossibly difficult to install and that lots of hardware just doesn't work with Linux. The author almost always proclaims his or her love for Linux if it would just work properly. In reality their love for Linux is about as sincere as my love for Windows, but I digress.

Linux is compatible with more hardware than any other OS bar none. That certainly includes Windows. Try installing Windows 7 on some random laptop from scratch and see how much is missing or unsupported without third party drivers. My experience doing Linux installs for my customers is that a lot of off the shelf hardware "just works" and the rest needs proprietary drivers downloaded to make it work, just like Windows. There is, indeed, some hardware that doesn't work with Linux and years ago that was a real issue. The fact is that more and more manufacturers are supporting Linux well and other drivers have been adequately reverse engineered.

Yes, I am aware of the recent problems with some new ATI graphics chipsets. Yes, I am also aware that there are still printers that don't work properly with Linux. Nowadays those are the exceptions rather than the rule.

A Linux user writing under the nickname Bernard Swiss put it this way in the LXer.com forum in response to one such article:

It's not that Linux doesn't support a lot of hardware -- it's that some hardware doesn't support Linux.

And I'm old enough to recall when even semi-savvy "consumers" got the point that "Win-hardware" ("win-printers", "win-modems", etc.) were something that only the most ignorant would buy, because producing such "hardware" was at best a sign of cutting corners and/or incompetence, and at worst cynical exploitation of the customer. It got to the point that even most sales-people at "Big Box" chains were likely to warn customers away from that junk.

Seriously, I think that might well be a point worth emphasizing even today. No matter how slick or apparently cool a product appears to be:

if the label says:

"Made Especially for Windows", (or worse, "Made Especially for Windows version X"),

and doesn't mention other operating systems, the manufacturer is probably being lazy, sloppy, incompetent and/or ripping you off. And if the hardware actually won't work with anything else but Windows -- make that "definitely".

Cellphones run Linux. Super-computers run Linux, The big stock exchanges all run Linux. Google and eBay run Linux. GPS locators and ebook readers and household entertainment devices run Linux; So if your hardware won't run Linux, well -- that says a lot more about your hardware than it says about Linux.

The funny thing is that I've bought hardware that did say that it was for a given Windows version and found that it worked perfectly well under Linux. Still, his warning is worth heeding if you are uncertain about some piece of hardware.

The reality is that Linux is held to a much higher standard that Windows is. Most people assume that hardware works with Windows out of the box because they have never tried to install Windows on that hardware. It came preinstalled and the vendor or OEM already did all the hard work of making sure all the necessary drivers were in place. Linux, on the other hand, is usually installed on some piece of random hardware that came with Windows preinstalled. The work of finding those drivers and installing them falls to the Linux user. The authors of these articles neglect to mention that if users are starting with a bare system with no OS it would, in many if not most cases, be more difficult to get Windows working properly than it is to get Linux working properly. If Linux doesn't "just work" out of the virtual box it is judged to be a failure. Never mind that most major Linux distributions will "just work" much more frequently than Windows given the same starting point.

I'll repeat the point I made in my last article: for Linux to make headway on the consumer desktop it needs to be available preloaded in stores the way it was on netbooks for a couple of years. If Linux is preinstalled it is suddenly on a level playing field with Windows and MacOS X. Then the expectation that a system should "just work" with Linux the way it does with Windows is reasonable and justified.

There is plenty of history to show that Linux can and should succeed in the marketplace given a level playing field. We saw companies like Dell, HP, ASUS and Acer offer well configured, well designed systems, primarily netbooks and nettops, in significant numbers between 2007 and 2010. Many of these systems sold very well. As I noted in my last article sales of Linux on netbooks remained robust for two years after the introduction of netbooks with Windows preloaded. Dell claimed that one third of their netbook sales were Linux. If Linux wasn't profitable for Dell they wouldn't have announced a new Linux laptop earlier this week.

History also shows that companies can do a good job delivering a well configured Linux system. Two cases in point: my 2009 review of the Sylvania g Meso and Ladislav Bodnar's review of the HP Mini 110 six months later. I also own the HP Mini 110 and I've been thoroughly satisfied with it running a variety of Linux distributions.

The reality today is that Linux supports most consumer hardware very well indeed. The articles claiming that Linux hardware support is somehow lacking either are relying on outdated information or anecdotal experiences based on unreasonable expectations that an operating system, any operating system, can "just work" on any piece of hardware out there. The sad fact is that a lot of people will accept what they read at face value. The purpose of these articles is to warn people who don't know better away from Linux and to sell more copies of Windows and more systems with Windows preloaded.

You can get systems with Linux preloaded. It takes a little searching online, a special order and, when dealing with boutique vendors, perhaps paying a bit of a premium. However, you can and should expect that a system with Linux preloaded will "just work" at least as well as a similar Windows system. Actually, it should work better than a similar Windows system since you likely won't be dealing with any malware and likely will be running a system with lower resource utilization. In other words, a system preloaded with Linux should and usually will run faster and with less problems that a comparable Windows system.

Here is the final thought that the fear mongers don't want you to know: chances are your old system which is too old to support Windows 8 and which you think you need to replace might be just fine if you install Linux on it. Indeed, it might be faster than the shiny new system with Windows.


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87 Comments

Dear Caitlyn,
Thank you for the awesome article. Also many thanks for your activity to DistroWatch Weekly. In my country it says: "When a person chooses a profession makes a good step in the life but heavenly is when a person is choosed by a profession."
I dare to think that you are in the latter case.
All the best from Romania, Aurel.

Very well put. No excuse for vendors to produce hardware for a specific OS. I would think it would be more time consuming and costly to do such a thing but then again, I'm thinking someone else is picking up the tab for the HW manufacturers to do just that in order to keep Linux in a corner.

I used to load Windows on computers back in the days when I mainly did user and workstation support. It can be just as big of a pain in the butt as it can be installing Linux, especially when trying to find certain ones for the motherboard. A really nice thing for Linux is that you always have some sort of ability to find the source OS and use it for reinstalls or whatever. Windows is not like that unless you buy the OS on your own. The reload partitions and backup media only give you the extra bloated vendor mess.

It is also nice that items that do not work with Linux are becoming the exception. I remember the days hunting down compatibility lists to find out if my printer or whatever was supported and, if not, how to force it to work.

I would be surprised that these urban legends are still believed about Linux hardware (and software) support, except that I remember the fact that a lot of businesses have been built around the Windows ecosystem in such a way that the widespread use of Linux would be poison to their bottom line.

I lost hardware support for my video card on an upgrade from XP SP2 to SP3. Same video card works just fine in Linux.

I lost support for my printer upgrading Windows. Still works fine on Linux.

And good luck getting Windows to run on my machine with only 384MB of RAM and a 50GB drive. Or on the PowerPC hardware. OTOH, Linux runs just fine on both.

Yeah, there's hardware with which I have trouble on Linux, but it certainly cuts both ways.

I recently replaced my four Pentium 4 desktops sans the hard drives, the OS, and the network card, with new motherboards, quad core Intel processors, and 12 GB of RAM. They were, and are, dual boot systems with Windows XP and Fedora 14.

Windows wouldn't even get to the BSOD before croaking, but Linux ran as if nothing had changed. Recognized all the new hardware, connected with the right drivers, and immediate boot up! Will eventually relegate Windows (upgrade to 7 in my case) to run under Virtual Box for the few windows exclusive apps I rely on. I'll be 90% of more Linux from this point forward, and no more dual boot. Aside from some proprietary apps like Weather Solution and Car Chip, I can do just about everything else on Linux. And if I find a windows game I must have, I have virtual box to cough up a virtual instance of windows.

Having used Linux since the end of the 90'ies i certainly agree that hardware drivers are not really a big problem. But for some, it really is.

Therefore one should never claim "pick this or that distro - it works out of the box" unless one in fact has experience with the exact combination.

If you do recommend where you should not, you are likely to be the creator of a user very hostile towards Linux, thus a true credibility killer.

Another wrong thing to do is recommending Linux with the ambition to make a Linux enthusiast out of the victim. Recommend (and if possible assist in installing) Linux on basis of the potential users needs and capabilities.

Forget your own preferences - it's all about the potential user, as long as you are sure that you are able to assist.
----
Now, I've got some shocking news!!
There are no perfect Linux desktop environment, and there are no perfect Linux distribution. There are probably 20-30 distros and 4-5-6 desktop environments that are technically suitable and has the potential, but none of them are really there.

We, as enthusiasts, are able to tweak a distro or a desktop environment into submission. The regular users who just want a neat piece of equipment to work well are not.

Where are the distros for consumers? They don't exist.

Jack: I have some shocking news for you. Any of the major Linux distributions are consumer-ready. That's been true for at least a decade. Any of the major Linux desktop environments are consumer ready. That's been true for at least a decade as well. The current generation of desktops on Windows and even on MacOS are based on ideas that first appeared in Linux. See my recent article on the subject. If those Linux distributions aren't "really there" then certainly Windows and MacOS are even less ready for consumers. You are certainly right that there is no perfect Linux distribution or desktop. There is no perfect OS, period. Linux is in no way more flawed or less ready for consumers than the other options out there.

I see the second part of your comment the same way I see the articles proclaiming that Linux hardware support is terrible: as spreading more fear, uncertainty and doubt for no good reason.

I note that you are using the F-word to devaluate my arguments, and that's really the big trouble when it comes to Linux for consumers. Nobody really sits down and consider what it REALLY takes to get Linux desktop consumer ready.

Linux enthusiasts are SO convinced that "what works for me works for anybody" (because I figured it out, anybody can).

Out of the vast number of Linux distros there's only ONE with muscles and continuity aiming for consumers. That's Ubuntu which are only half way there.

The rest is magnitudes away, and that should not be surprising since none of them are aiming for consumers.

Linux works indeed fine for me, and there's no question about the technical potential and quality in most aspects. But that's a far cry from being consumer ready.

No DE got the right balance wrt administration (Unity admin is embarrasing limited, Gnome is close and KDE administration is illogical and overly complex).

Distros:

Fedora: For developers
Mageia: Fresh meat
Mandriva: Critically ill
OpenSuse: Kitchen Sink
Arch: Don't want to
Mint: Where will it jump next
Sabayon: Kitchensink with a twist
Debian: No consumer ever heard of it
CentOS: Communicative disorder syndrome
RedHat: Don't care about desktop
Chakra: Immature
Ubuntu: Unity incomplete

None of these are consumer ready.

Sure - the techies will pick any of these and make them useful in one way or another. But they are not consumer ready.

I agree with exactly one thing you wrote: I am using the "f" word, as in fear and FUD, to describe your writing. Your whole diatribe is pure FUD and not worthy of much of a response. Name calling for each distro? Gee, that's a fact filled argument. Of course, this is typical of the kind of article I mention in the first paragraph.

LOL. I will give you this: your writing is entertaining. Entirely laughable and a wonderful example for me to point to of what really should be ignored.

The entuisasts failure to acknowledge the shortcomings of Linux Desktop wrt consumers has always been Linux Desktop's most notorious flaw.

Truth is: Linux enthusiasts never really wanted Linux to go mainstream on desktops. They always insisted upon converting consumer users into Linux enthusiasts.

No consumer oriented distro will ever get the unified support of the Linux enthusiasts.

Your comments are expected. Hollow, but expected.

Should be interesting to learn how Fedora, Arch, Chakra and OpenSuse are aiming for consumers - Fedora, Arch and Chakra all states that they are not. OpenSuse was always about the kitchensink for the entusiasts - and they still are.

Should be interesting to learn how Mageia is not fresh (they have only 1 release), and please let me know that you have secured funds for Mandriva for the next 3-5 years - to ensure no more bankrupcy warnings from their management.

As regards Unity - please advice how you adjust the fonts - fresh install - no additional packages.

Hollow? I linked to netbook sales above. How were something upwards of 25 million netbooks sold with an operating system that wasn't consumer ready? Sorry, I'm not a Linux "enthusiast". I'm an IT consultant who works with decidedly non-technical business customers on a daily basis. None of them seem to have a problem with the Linux desktop.

You cite trivia and irrelevant points to make your non-argument. Mandriva is a poorly managed company that never had a sensible business plan. Why use them as an example when you can point to Red Hat, with $1 billion in annual revenue and desktop/workstation editions which are sold to businesses all over the world? Who held up Chakra or Mageia as an example of anything other than you? Mageia, BTW, is a good example of a consumer ready distribution. It is new, but is built by former Mandriva developers who have well over a decade of experience bringing an excellent and highly usable desktop to the market.

Do consumers care about desktop fonts, or is that the techie talking? Don't install additional packages? Why not?

Oh, and there is one little consumer-ready distro you forgot to mention called Android. Quite a few consumers use it from what I hear.

Oh, and I don't tolerate endless repetition or attempts to dominate the discussion. Unless you have something new and concrete to add to the discussion you are done.

The notion that Linux desktop is consumer-reader is absolutely nonsense. An OS has to meet four criteria (see below) in order to qualify as "consumer-ready desktop". Windows pass this test. Linux, on the other hand, does not:

1) I run several software such as Adobe Photoshop, SnagIt, BackBlaze, Nero 12 Platinum, and PowerArchiver on Windows. None of these software exist natively on Linux so I'm left with two choices: FOSS alternatives or WINE. Unfortunately, those two choices are abymsal because a) the quality of FOSS alternatives are vastly inferior compared to commercial proprietary counterparts and b) WINE (a poor substitute for Windows native environment) severely diminishes the performance any software that I use.

2) Linux has lousy gaming support. Any PC gamer worth his salt will agree with me.

3) Linux is also a lousy platform for HTPC (e.g. no Netflix and Blu-Ray support). That's because Linux shot itself in the foot by refusing to embrace DRM and HDCP which are prerequisite for playing any kind of protected media.

4) Linux is notorious for poor hardware support. It is not compatible with my Canon printer, Logitech Webcam, Nokia Lumia 920, iPod Touch and Western Digital 2TB My Passport. You might be surprised that I mentioned WD My Passport considering this drive is supposed to work on Linux. Well, it does work on Linux, but guess what? This drive features built-in hardware encryption (a.k.a. self-encrypting drives or SED) and when the encryption is enabled, it becomes virtually unreadable on Linux. Windows and Mac OS X have no problems reading the encrypted drive. Not surprisingly, the WD technical support rep told me that their SED products does not support Linux nor they have plans to support it anytime soon.

As you can see, Linux is a joke OS as far as I'm concerned. The only saving grace of Linux is that it works great on servers, but that's it. It shouldn't be considered as a credible alternative to Windows or even a Mac OS X for mainstream use.

How long is linux support good for on a computer, 12 years?
Windows XP was supported for about 12 years.
On Dell laptops, that came out with Ubuntu preloaded, they only had modem driver support for about 1 or 2 iterations of ubuntu. The ATI accelerated graphics that came with the laptop is no longer supported in newer versions of X (ATI dropped support)...
You can buy a computer preloaded with linux but don't count on any long-term support.

You are using an half hearted attempt by a rather lackluster company as an example of what to expect in Linux support on a prebuilt system? That's amusing.

Why don't you try out system76, zareason, thinkpeguin, and plenty of others? If you look beyond the mainstream you'll find better answers.

Actually, Dell support for Linux is quite good. There hardware generally does "just work" with Linux, both servers and desktops/laptops. Telling someone to throw out the hardware they have and go buy something new from a boutique vendor instead is a great way to get someone to think Linux is awful. Please don't go down that road.

Oh, and no, that is not a critique of ZaReason or System76, both of which have an outstanding reputation.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux is supported for 10 years. After that you have to upgrade. All the free clones of Red Hat, including CentOS and Scientific Linux, are also supported for 10 years. The case of ATI dropping support for older hardware on their proprietary drivers is certainly true. However, you may very well be able to use the older driver on a newer distribution. The worst case scenario is that you would have to use the Open Source driver with a somewhat more limited feature set or downgrade X.org. However, it can still be made to work.

Regarding Dell laptops, what you have stated is generally false. You can run a newer Ubuntu and the hardware generally works fine. Please provide a specific example of the modem where support was dropped. Ubuntu supports their LTS versions for five years, which is 10 iterations of their distribution, not one or two. Finally, Ubuntu is not Linux. It's one distribution with a somewhat checkered record when it comes to hardware support. I'd bet dollars to donuts your Dell laptop would work just fine with another distribution.

You are proving my point down to the last letter.

Change to the Foss driver and downgrade X.org or find another distro? That's not anywhere near Consumer ready. That's enthusiast stuff.

Sure, supporting 12 year old hardware takes tinkering. That same hardware won't run a current version of Windows at all. Change to the FOSS driver? That's usually the one installed by default out of the box.

All you are doing, Jack, is grasping at straws. You're not proving that Linux isn't consumer ready by showing that it doesn't work out of the box on ancient hardware that Windows and Mac don't support at all.

Give it up, Jack, or I'll simply delete your repetitive comments. If you want to dominate the discussion write your own article on your own blog.

Ummm... you *do* realizes that XP wasn't *supposed to have a 12 year life span... don't you.

It was only MS's utter inability to actually ship the mess that was Vista that gave you 12 years of support for XP.

It wasn't a feature it was a bug.

The main issue with Linux is that it is always playing catchup. I bought a new Alienware system last January for my son to do game development on. Of course, it came preloaded with Windows 7. He tried booting Ubuntu 11.10, but it oops'd in the kernel. We then tried 12.04 Beta 1 and it worked flawlessly. He had to do a little hackery to get the nVidia Optimus video working, but now it out performs the default Windows environment, according to a Phoronix graphics benchmark test run he did. And he has the leds working to flash a different color depending on notifications.

Afaik, all of the devices on his system now work properly with 12.04 + additional software. As the author stated, it is mainly just a matter of either time to reverse engineer support, or to get a vendor to help work out the kinks.

Alienware makes cutting edge gaming systems. Leading of bleeding edge hardware can be an issue if the manufacturer doesn't support Linux and you have to wait for an Open Source driver to be reverse engineered. Having said that, Ubuntu never runs the latest kernel and most hardware support is in the form of kernel modules. Very often you do not have to wait for the next version of the distro. You may have to download a new proprietary driver from the manufacturer in the case of NVidia or download and compile a current kernel. As already noted, if you had chosen a high end system from a vendor who offers Linux preloaded none of the issues you describe would have occurred, hence my emphasis on the need for preloaded systems in order for Linux to be able to compete.

I don't have any difficulties with my hardware (max spec Thinkpad with bells and flutes) using Linux with one exemption.

Everything is plug'n play, but I have to make a choice between Nvidia and Intel GPU. Not a problem for me as I would use Nivida no matter what.

Just today I tried to install Windows 7 32-bit on an Acer Aspire All-In-One. It comes with W7 64-bit pre-installed, but we have an app that is not compatible with it. The discs that come with the system are 64 bit only. After hours of searching and downloading drivers, I could not get the USB 3.0 controller to work. Just for kicks I booted Precise on it, and sure enough, it worked there.

Caitlyn is right,
In 2000 I purchased a Mandrake CD to upgrade my pc from Windows 3.11 to Linux and I managed to only get my monitor to work. Then after a week of frustration of trying every driver available to me I quit, got Windows 98se and moved on. Windows XP pro was by far my favorite OS until in 2008. I was talked into dual booting my laptop with Ubuntu and XP that was OK for about a year. Now Opensuse Tumbleweed is my favorite OS its free, everything works, and is supported forever. Linux hardware support is by far superior to any other OS. Now another distribution that is free and support last forever is LMDE (LinuxMint Debian Edition) and I have not found a PC, Laptop, or Notebook that everything does not work with this Dist. Free, far superior hardware support, and infinite updates. No other OS comes close to Linux.

Opensuse Tumbleweed Kernel 3.3.4-22 w/ KDE 4.8.3

Linux is supporting more hardwares and becoming more stable and easy to use. My office laptop which is an old dell laptop, did not supported multi-monitor prior this release of ubuntu. It was very hard to setup headphone for skype. In this release everything got fixed. I was able to use multi monitors, sound has no issue at all. Now come to newer hardware. I bought a dell sandy bridge laptop with ati card. In ubuntu 11.04 I got black screen of death and ati card fan ran very loud and it heated. I was never able to install catalyst driver. In 12.04 the open source graphics drivers not only improved a lot, I was also able to install catalyst driver and get the high performance ati gpu working.

Nice article Caitlyn.
Another article to down the voices of just wannabes who want to stick with a proprietary platform thinking that it's the best. You clearly point out Linux's power with hardware support in all but the problem is hardware vendors just shy out of providing driver support for their devices to use in Linux. That's a plain crap reason saying I just want to be supporting the best one out there not the rest(which actually sucks.)
There are many Linux distros out there and each have a different way of addressing some support portability, some user friendliness, some simple structure, some newbie friendly....... many many more.

To sum it all up, Linux is coming out of it's den folks with a lot more support and less to complain. Just have some patience, if you still want to try linux and are afraid just a virtual environment like Virtualbox, VMWare or others. Just try getting out of your regular shoes and walk bare feet or in different shoes it's refreshing.

This is an old statement. If you are a linux user, you CAN do this and that and fix any problem you encounter. Hardware support is certainly the best compare to any OS.

if you can't, then you are not a linux user.

Sorry, I disagree. There are plenty of non-technical users out there who cannot solve hardware driver issues or compatibility issues. That isn't OS specific. It's true for Windows and it is true for Linux. You can't tell someone they aren't a Linux user if they don't meet your standard for technical proficiency. It's insulting and just plain wrong.

This OS/Distro war is in one sense totally stupid and in a lesser sense good...

Good in the sense that it cause a great diversity in what is out there...
and totally stupid in trying to get "the one that works for all". It is as good as trying to develop one make and model of vehicle to fit all walks of live! Have you ever seen anyone out there trying to do just that? No? Everyone would agree that that idea will never work! There will for ever be noobs to experts with everything else in between. It works that way in every other industry/profession/part in/of this world. Why try to force the os world to be different?

Use what you like and leave everybody else to their own opinion! I love Linux and totally hate windows (my opinion). I'm using openSuse on my desktop for day to day work and win xp to play games, Fedora 14 on my usb drive to fix win xp computers and so on. When the time comes that I can do everything that "I" want on my openSuse desktop... Totally Yay!!! until then... so what?? Everyone is really entitled to their own opinion. The only way one would be able to get 9billion people to favour only one distro/os, is to brainwash the lot of them. Good luck with that! Really!

Leave it at that and enjoy your fav distro/os and take its shortcomings like a man (or woman)!

What I have found with hardware in the Windows/Linux worlds.

Linux takes a little longer to get drivers in the kernel, then for the kernel to integrated into the distros, so there is usually a lag. But once HW is supported it's literally a zero effort affair for the end user, and it will be that way for forever in computer/hw terms. Also if hw isn't running by default as long as somebody wrote a driver you can do the extra work to grab it and get it running.

Windows has drivers written for it by hw manufacturers, at cost. If they don't do it it ain't getting done. ONce that hw manufacturer has moved on to their next product or MS has moved on to there next OS version the amount of effort that gets put into maintaining a driver starts dropping fast. This can result in a situation where you can't get a driver for a newer Windows version for older hardware. Windows folks have gotten fat and happy with XP but MS is back on their treadmill, you'll see what I mean soon enough.

Sorry, even being a Linux user, I'm going to have to side with the OEMs on this one. Enough with the hardware support, if we would've solved the problems Dell, HP, Asus, Lenovo, et al, wanted us to solve then hardware manufacturers would write drivers for them.

#1: Companies (software, computer manufacturers, printer makers, etc) don't want their products to say: Compatible with Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7, MAC OSX 10.5/.6/.7, & LINUX. They want their products to say: Compatible with MS Windows *whatever version*, MAC OSX *whatever*, & Ubuntu (this could very easily be Red Hat or SuSE). Not that Linux is a bad word, it just happens to be a kernel and completely generic, no offense Linus.

#2: The best feature of desktop Linux: the ability to chose an DE you're comfortable with, is also its greatest downfall. HUGE moving target. Unfortunately one of 'em should've pulled ahead. I'm thinking KDE just because of the polish, they all lack something as far as I'm concerned.

#3: Package management: now, I'm not just talking about YUM versus APT-GET or GUIs like Synaptic versus YaST. I'm talking about complete packages (applications) that have all necessary libraries included with them. This bull*** with every six months this and every six months that with one distro including this version of MySQL and this distro just came it and it has this version of this app/library. Double-click and away we go, or use the store and d/l the whole thing.

Now, get together, and solve some of these issues. Pick a DE, argue with the developers and let them know that end user(s) may not be able to code but they're a heck of a lot better at layout and polish on a DE then the devs. Also, don't forget about the powers of two. We've gotten use to a mobile ecosystem that only runs iOS and Android. A PC world that runs Microsoft Windows & OSX. We got that going on to. And don't tell Dell or HP I was here...

You are going to "side with the OEMs" and yet I have yet to read where any OEM said anything even vaguely like what you wrote here. Linux isn't a "bad word", most of the OEMs you mention support Linux very well in the server room and also produce desktop/laptop hardware that works with Linux. The rest of what you wrote is a complete non sequitor. It has nothing to do with my article and, indeed, suggests things that, for a variety of reasons, either can't happen or are never going to happen.

I get it. You think Linux isn't usable with libraries packages separately from applications. You also think choice is a bad thing and we have to settle on one desktop environment. You also think existing desktop environments lack polish. I've been trying the Rosa Desktop release candidate and their implementation of KDE is more polished than anything I've ever seen on a Windows desktop. Our choice and our diversity is our strength. People aren't forced into one size fits all with Linux. I sure wouldn't want to see that change.

Your argument is that Linux is flawed and needs to be just like Windows to succeed. That is NEVER going to happen. I, for one, am grateful for that. If I wanted a Windows-like operating system I'd run Windows.

Dude what planet are you on?

First of all lets tackle the issue of package management in Linux distributions. This is basically the model Apple, Google, Nokia, Valve, Microsoft and anybody else you care to mention has based their app stores on. If you're picking holes in this then you really don't know what you're talking about and you don't understand the current direction of the market.

If you're having issues with package management and missing files or out of date files then that' a distribution specific problem. Years ago I had issues with SuSE which landed me in RPM hell. I solved that problem by switching to Ubuntu which is really just a derivative of Debian. Guess what happened? My package management problems were solved.

Not all Linux distributions are equal and it sounds as though you really need to stop using SuSE or whatever Microsoft are calling it these days.

The truth of the matter about OEMs and hardware vendors is they'll slap whatever stickers they need to on their products to shift them off of shelves. If that's an Apple logo, they'll deal with Apple. If it's a Microsoft logo, they'll deal with Microsoft. If they think endorsing Linux will earn them a profit. They'll make a point of telling you it's Linux compatible. If they've been working with a particularly popular distribution, they'll say so.

What is more telling in recent times is the behaviour of ISVs. Many games companies have been flirting with Linux recently. And the question is why now? Simply put the answer is Windows 8. Microsoft are turning Windows into a closed platform where they get to control who gets to sell what. Which is basically Apple's business model. And it seems developers aren't at all happy. They're branching out and making the most of the market that's available to them. And that includes Linux.

Valve are flirting with Linux as are EA. And so too are smaller developers who offer services rather than software alone. Dropbox have a very good Linux client as does Spotify to name but a few. The Linux market is growing where the incumbents are stagnating.

"Cellphones run Linux. Super-computers run Linux, The big stock exchanges all run Linux. Google and eBay run Linux. GPS locators and ebook readers and household entertainment devices run Linux; So if your hardware won't run Linux, well -- that says a lot more about your hardware than it says about Linux."

This ^^^^

Seriously, you didn't even need to write the rest of the article.

I think your missing the point here. And twisting the facts slightly.
I work in IT, have for nearly 30 years. I run linux at home and frequently get calls from friends with windows machines.
Most of them have done a full wipe and reinstall at least once in their life including driver installs.
The problem is NOT the OOB experience. The problem is when the OS doesn't support the hardware.
With Windows it simply means a quick download of the appropriate drivers.
With Linux the drivers tend to not exist or you spend hours searching through forums with answers like "try this" or "try that" and do not work half the time.

Linux has one major failing. Lack of support.
If bloggers\vendors\OEMs would focus on that one failing Linux would be much more successful on the desktop.
Bloggers need to write about it and put pressure on the vendors\OEM for better support instead of writing useless articles like this one.
Vendors need to support it with installable packages of the latest software.
Do you know what the current version of Firefox is in the Debian repo's?
Users should NOT have to know how to download source and compile.
OEM need to support it with drivers and technical support.

I work in IT and have done for 32 years. I've actually used the support offerings from Red Hat and SUSE as well as from Microsoft and Novell back when Netware was still around. Linux doesn't lack support offerings at all. Indeed, I'd say Red Hat has some of the finest support in the industry.

The rest of your post, where you say "the drivers tend not to exist" was true perhaps 10-15 years ago. It is not true today. Sorry, John, you are perpetuating a myth. There is no lack of hardware support except from a relatively small minority of vendors who *choose" not to support Linux and try to keep their "secrets" proprietary. No number of articles I or anyone else could write would bring any pressure to bear on manufacturers who don't want to support Linux to do so.

My article is "useless". Fine, don't read it, then. When you accuse me of "twisting the facts" you really should look in the mirror.

What version of Firefox is in the Debian repositories? None at all. Debian ships Iceweasel instead of Firefox. What on earth does that have to do with hardware support?

Thank you for proving that even after 30 years of IT industry experience that you can still be uninformed and choose to misinform others.

John I have worked in IT for over 30 years. I've worked with multiple operating Systems including all versions of Windows up to 7, and Linux since mandrake 8.2 circa 2000.

As for the rest what Caitlyn said.

You are introducing irrelevant issues in your rush to demonstrate Linux is not good enough, in your haste you simple demonstrate your own ignorance.

BTW, on the issue of software, I'm running Linux Mint 12, with KDE 4.8.3, updated automatically from 4.7.4, with Firefox 12, also updated automatically from whatever version of FF came with Linux Mint 12. What happens to be in Debian Stable is really quite irrelevant.

Caitlyn, you deleted my comment. Does n't matter. Here's my post on my blog.
http://pclinuxos2007.blogspot.in/2012/05/caitlyn-and-linux-hardware-support.html

I checked and your comment wasn't deleted. It was flagged as SPAM. It doesn't matter in any case. I checked your Microsoft rules the world and Linux has only 1% market share post where you couldn't even spell my first name correctly. Frankly, deleting your link would be a service to my readers but, heck, they may find your blog humorous so I'll leave it in place.

Oh, and I did notice that, unlike my articles debunking the 1-2% myth with lots of links and data to support my argument, all you have to support yours is derision and scorn. Nice job at being utterly unconvincing. This article is a rant? Really? LOL.

Thank you for making my point, though. If you want a blog full of "I love Linux, I've used it for a decade, but it really is crap and Microsoft will rule the world" please visit Manmath's page. It really is very funny and utterly divorced from reality.

Thanks to getting some of these rumours out that have been circulating around for years, that Microsoft apologists keep trying to bring up. What I've often found is that those who still claim that Linux "has no hardware support", or "is difficult to install", haven't actually tried to use it! Yes, it is true, but all too believable because many readers haven't tried it either but after seeing those statements get a bad image in their mind regarding GNU/Linux. As I always explain, download it for free as with all open source software is, and TRY it. You have absolutely nothing to lose except your time. Then, make a decision of which operating system is right for you.

I have been using Linux for 10 years and the hardware support has improved. Now I am fairly confident that when I plug in a USB device it will work. However, hardware support is not the problem with Linux. its software support.

I agree that Linux is the best system to use for a server and it works well as a desktop. It just lacks the needed support by third party vendors to make it a real competitor in the desktop arena.

I finally switched my work and personal Laptop to Windows 7 because I was tired of having to find fixes for software related issues. Or having to go without some features just because I am on a Linux machine.

My opinion may change with the release of Windows 8 and I may go running back to Linux for my desktop OS. For the time being, Windows 7 is the better option.

I still use Linux in a virtual machine for some DevOps work. It just does not fit my needs for a day to day desktop machine.

No operating system is "one size fits all". Windows tries to be but it really isn't. Neither is Linux. I, for one, have no problem with the idea that Windows 7 better fits your personal needs and therefore is the right choice for you.

Having said that, I think you are taking your personal choice and personal preference and projecting in a way that doesn't fit. I rarely have to "find fixes for software related issues". Much like Windows I receive patches for security issues and bugfixes automatically. However, in the case of security, I find Linux does a much better job than Windows. I use Linux exclusively in my business and I don't find software lacking features either. Now, to be honest, I can name specialized software where the Linux equivalent is inferior or, in a few cases, doesn't even exist. No doubt about that. I also know that gamers who want the latest cool Windows game aren't going to find it on Linux or, in most cases, on Mac OS X either.

For probably 90% of what most of my business customers do and for most of what home users do Linux provides everything needed without having to spend money on expensive, proprietary software.

Interesting Bl_nK, I've been using Linux since 2000, so that's nearly 12 years of Linux, I've also used all versions of Windows up to 7. In that time I've mostly been employed as, variously, a Windows programmer, Administrator, and Database developer.

Up until January this year I was a Windows programmer, C#, Visual Basic, using Visual Studio and MS SQL Server.

i am pleased to say i am no longer a Windows user in any way shape or form. I have managed to move all my personal and work related stuff to Linux. I am now programming in C# on Linux, using Mono/MonoDevelop, I don't even need Windows to Host any ASP.NET application I build they can all be hosted on a linux server.

None of this actually speaks to the central issue that Caitlyn raised, hardware support on Linux, except that if it had not been so good, even 12 years ago, I would not have been in the very happy position I am now in.

Lenovo, HP, and Dell have all tried the pro-loaded Linux route in the US. Fail!

If it was so marvelously simple, if they could make a buck with pre-loaded Linux, they would have done it.

RedHat has 10 yr. support, and with a real "desktop", called by them a workstation, 10 years of support would equal several thousand USD. And, that is not truly "support" but merely merely a fee for accessing their update servers. Self-support (just access to their update system) is $179/year. Full support, which actually offers support and updates is $299/year.

$3000 smackers for 10 years.More, with the sales tax. that is a reflection of at least minimally the lack of economy of scale that Linux offers for the desktop. Folk that scream about MS seat license fees could have afield day with that RedHat fee scale for the desktop. RedHat's way of saying - don;t bother!

Think of the earthquake effect if Ubuntu, Mint and Debian all started demanding several hundred USD for update server access. Linux Kaput - overnight. If they even demanded $25/annum, folk would go nuts. And, yes, I have donated to independent distros, one substantially. The big dudes are well heeled.

Win XP Pro at OEM prices over the 10 years plus, with 3 Service Packs and many updates - at no extra charge - at less than $8 bucks per year. Win 7 cost will be about identical, plus it furnishes built-in drivers for hardware in most instances.

The logistics of a distro, with a separate kernel group of cats and then thousands of cats providing the GNU "skin" means that Linux is not suitable for commercial desktop sales. In spite of what Spaceman declares. Too many cats. Incidentally, Spaceman's Kubuntu (they dropped all support now) is very user friendly and, unlike most distros, is easily upgraded from release to release, without the world ending. I have a couple Kubuntu installs that are on their third release upgrade. And, I note, those installs are using proprietary NVidia drivers. when they drop KDM in near future, I'll drop them too.

The large retailers who have preloaded Linux offer no savings, and only offer such hardware in a most undesirable configuration. If you configure a lower end Dell box (holding nose), that is if you can find a Linux box through the maze, it will be more expensive than an identical box with Win 7 preloaded. Also, the Linux box will have few or no options. Also, the Linux hardware providers of the boutique sort are too expensive, given that I can pick up a Thinkpad from Lenovo Outlet - a new one - and stuff Linux in myself and save several hundred USD in the process. Or, a MacBook Pro with Apple's BSD is an option. Linux coders have written many lines of code on Apple's Unix OS.

Desktop Linux is a tiny fractional share of desktop, and will remain so. Even Ubuntu cannot manipulate the kernel sufficiently to make something standardized and stable enough (longrun) to capture a significant share of the Desktop OS market. LTS is suited for in-house, non-consumer desktop tasks which do not require the latest in multimedia or Net packages.

Thus, if the author supposes that preloaded Linux in hardware is a schmart move, lay out the cash and contact Foxconn for the details, as they are always looking for resellers. One of their resellers, Apple, has done rather well for them.

All the above doesn't mean that Win 8 won't be a sack of dung. The sudden appearance of Win 8 is merely MS betting that the desktop is passe.

By the way, O'Reilly is a great publisher and a valuable resource. Several of their older publications were an immense help when I started with Linux a long time ago.

Also, I have the greatest respect for the RedHat organization. Unfortunately, they likely do not have the resources to withstand an onslaught of Huge Cash. Unlike the Novell opportunists, they have resisted - so far.

When Linus packs it in - what of the kernel then? It his Trademarked property. How many cat herders are there out there do you suppose?


So much misinformation, so little time.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop Edition support is $49/year, not $179 or $299/year. Nor is it merely access to updates. You can get that for free. You actually do have a full support offering and someone you can call for help. I consulted for Red Hat at one point and what you have posted here is just plain false. Your claims about the total cost of ownership for Windows XP (a discontinued product) are also highly misleading.

Lenovo never offered LInux preloaded. The others didn't "fail". Perhaps you should read my previous article which demonstrated the influence Linux has had on the desktop and also talks about why, after two to three years of robust sales, the netbooks preloaded with Linux disappeared. They weren't a failure. They sold in excess of 25 million units. However, when you can't sell add-on software it's far less profitable for retailers to sell Linux. Add Microsoft's strong arm tactics to the mix to force OEMs to drop Linux and then you have a real picture of why Linux isn't at Wal Mart this week. Oh, and BTW, Dell still offers Linux. I even linked a new laptop preloaded they are offering as of this week in my article. I guess you conveniently decided to ignore that when writing your piece shilling for Microsoft.

Kubuntu support was picked up by another company, Blue Systems. Once again, you are spreading false information to further your agenda.

Linux is less than 10% of the desktop market, but not for any of the reasons you cite. So is Apple so your claim that they are doing so well by comparison doesn't stand up.

Regarding the level of cash Red Hat has, their annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. They have had more than enough resources to survive anything Microsoft has thrown at them over the past 19 years and I expect that will continue well into the future.

All in all, you've written drivel that I probably shouldn't have even permitted you to post. I want my readers to see what the FUD machine looks like and to know when they are being fed outright lies. Oh, and yes, your numbers for Red Hat support were outright lies.

Let's be honest the cost is not in the OS you installed windows and then what you play solitaire.
The key is the office suite. The only reason a lot people still run windows on the desktop is because of the office suite's market penetration.
I have to run office and therefore windows for compatibility reason.
another odd thing is the development of certain features under linux.
Let's take word the "open source" projects competing with word seem to "refuse" to want to develop an outliner despite multiple user request.
Progress is being made with respect to compatibility but nothing has happening
with some of the features. I am of the opinion that the outliner feature for example would make a huge dent into office's market share and would cause an upsurge of linux desktops.

Coming back to the article the hardware support issue was at one point true now it is heading in the direction of FUD. Actually we are seeing cases specially with peripherals where more control is achieved using linux.


Here is another article which makes the same point I do.

"If you’ve ever used Linux, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of hardware works straight out of the box, no questions asked. No motherboard drivers need to be installed, no ethernet drivers, in most cases no wireless drivers, and not even graphics drivers (depending on your stance on open source vs. proprietary). In this sense, Linux definitely offers a plug-and-play experience above Windows, and (as far as I know) it challenges Mac OS X‘s capabilities as well.

However, no operating system will have support for every single piece of hardware out of the box, and it’s important to know which ones have that support..."

I'm a user and a linux curious for about 3 or so years. I just like the free thing, either as in beer either as in speech. But I don't have that freedom when locally choosing a lappy from a local retail outlet. As many of the euro (yes, €€€€, money) conscious, I choose to pick my systems in the after Christmas' rebates. And what do I have available? well, netbooks are out of question, they don't fit my needs. So, the last time I picked a laptop all I had available were sandy brige equiped machines, with integrated graphics plus discrete gpus. While on the other os 7 I can ran my laptop for 6 to 7 hours, when running a linux, all I get are 2 hours, as I can't shutdown the discrete gpu and only use the integrated graphics chip. When connected to the mains power, heating is a problem and, for precaution, when the cores reach the 60 celcius, I switch off the machine, something I need to do every two and a half to 3 hours. The next generation of consumer ivy bridge machines will replicate this graphics set up and I' m still not aware of any distribution able to cope with this. We all know that OEM installed os'es are tuned to workout these features but the issue is, linux distros don't get installed by OEM. You can claim whatever you want regarding this but locally the Dell offer is almost nothing in the consumer retailing, not to mention the high pricing they charge locally, and HP, despite providing a ,,, well, lets call it an instant on OS that dual boots with windows, in some high end thinguies, do not offer a plain and updated release of, for instance, ubuntu. So, trying and making a linux distro working as well as the other OS, is becoming every year something more difficult, and even more once netbooks start to being phased out. In the end, in the consumer end user, if something doesn't change in this increasing hardware lagging, we may stop hearing about proper linux os'es, while the droids devices will multiply and we'll be seen all around the place.

Let me start by saying that the power consumption problem you describe on your laptop is real. I've read similar reports about similar hardware. However, as Phoronix reported three weeks ago that problem has been resolved. If you installed the latest version of Ubuntu as Michael Larabel suggests you'd find that your system would perform at least as well as it does under Windows. You'd actually probably see a performance boost over Windows.

No operating system is perfect and none is without bugs. Linux certainly has it's share of issues, as do Windows and Mac OS X. Like the commercial operating systems those problems do get fixed and they are often fixed very quickly indeed as is the case with the problem you report.

You described yourself as "Linux curious" rather than as an "experienced Linux user". I suspect that as you become more familiar with the Linux ecosystem and the avenues of support around whatever distribution you may choose you'll be able to find solutions to any problems you may encounter in the future rather quickly and painlessly. That isn't 100% guaranteed with Linux or any other operating system, but in my experience that is the case most of the time.

I'd also suggest that your conclusion about the future of conventional Linux distributions is a reflection of your bad experience and lack of other experiences. I suspect that, unless market conditions change radically, Linux and Mac OS X will remain niches on the desktop and Microsoft will remain dominant. Having said that, the Linux desktop will still have influence out of proportion to its market share. I also think that the variety of devices available and the advancing technologies out there will render Microsoft's advantage on the desktop less and less relevant.

Excellent article surpassed only by your replies to some of the misinformation by MS lackeys.

I really don't have much to add but I thought my experience with Linux might refute some of the misconceptions.

In terms of hardware support and LTS, I have three Compaq & HP machines (2 Deskpro 17 years old, 2 Evo 500 about 13 years old) all running latest and greatest Kubunt with KDE 4.8.3. They aren't the fastest but still run very well. I have an Compaq 6910p laptop also running Kubuntu. I don't recall having to wipe out and start from scratch except once, when I upgraded from 8.10 up to 9.04. Every time updates or upgrade were released, it was simple installtion but sometime with minor fixes of few issues. I never had and hardware issues except when Intel changed their video drivers.

Just last week, I purchased two shiny bran-new Foxconn tiny little desktops. They are nT535 bare, no OS, No memory, No Drive. Those were purchased separately and of course, no cost for Linux and the rest of all applications that I need, and they are many. From LibreOffice to music apps, from development tools, database engines to graphics applications and games. The sky is the limit in terms of what is available to any to download. Last I counted it was more that 20,000 applications in the repositories. All for no cost at all. Now, where would anyone get such a deal from other than FOSS.

By the way the new machines are running great. No problems at all with any of the hardware, even the wireless. When I booted from USB thumb drive, they connected right away since I have the configuration already in consistent store. After installation, all I needed to do is enter the key password.

I also bought a Brother HL-2270DW printer. Connection couldn't be easier. It has Ethernet & wireless. I connected via Ethernet since the vendor CD doesn't have Linux support for the wireless, but their web site has the necessary drives to download. After downloading them, and powered up the printer, CUPS already had it configured automatically and all I had to do is modify it.

By the way, installation on those two machines couldn't be more simple. Boot, select couple options and 20 minutes later I have fully
update latest and greatest Linux machine with all apps standard office apps.

Like you said somewhere else, No wonder why MS lackeys are so concerned and running scared.

Sorry for the length post, but I believe it was necessary to refute all misinformation cited by some.

Good job

Thanks for your kind words. Thank you also for sharing the link to the Foxconn nT535. That looks like a very nice little system at a very affordable price. I may have to consider one.

Again I have to respectfully point out that Linux still has a lot of major issues 9in the hardware support arena compared to Mac OSX or Windows. For example Colour management. I am an amateur photographer. Colour management is critical to my workflow. My colour meter works flawlessly in mac and windows. I have yet to get it to work properly in Linux. The colour management is only now being integrated into the desktops. In the past I was advised to create a custom icc profile in windows or mac and then use that in linux. Also power management in particular for laptops is very spotty. I am using a thinkpad T500 right now that gets about 4 hours in Windows per charge and about 1.5 in linux. AS I have understood part of the power problem is the opensource driver for my ATI chipset doe snot do a very good job of power management. I also have a switch able graphics adapter, which linux is yet to support. And all these work flawlessly on both mac and windows. In particular on this thinkpad windows 7 runs right of the disc 100% fine. Linux will to but just don;t expect battery life or workable color management. I appreciate that you are a self ascribed Linux partisan. I like Linux for a lot of things too. However it's really not a desktop ready for the average end user or primetime.

You dismiss me as a "Linux partisan" and provide information that simply doesn't square with reality. Before I debunk what you wrote perhaps I'd best share a little of my background. I'm not a tech writer. I'm a professional UNIX/Linux consultant who does a little writing on the side. I've done work for companies like Red Hat and Lockheed Martin. As early as 1998 I saw my work being billed out for $225 an hour and realized that once I built the professional reputation and network of contacts I needed I could charge significantly less and make a lot more money than I was actually making. I've been running a consulting business for the past seven years doing just that.

Now I have to be careful of what I write in order not to violate any Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) I have signed. Color management is an application function, not a function of hardware support or the desktop. In other words the functionality is there but you have to have the proper software to fully utilize it. In my work I have consulted for some of the largest Hollywood production studios, animation studios as well as for scientific research facilities that do everything from real time 3D modeling and rendering to highly specialized photo analysis. They do this work in Linux and much of it would be absolutely impossible if color management in Linux was not up to par. Some of the software used was ported from SGI Irix, which used to be the industry standard for this work. Some of it is not ported to Windows, an operating system that simply is not up to this sort of work. Mind you, we are not talking FOSS software here but instead we are discussing highly specialized proprietary software that isn't cheap. My point, though, is when you claim color management is somehow lacking in Linux you don't know what you're talking about. Linux is used professionally at the highest level for all sorts of multimedia, photographic and graphics work. Just because you don't know what's available for Linux doesn't mean the software doesn't exist.

Regarding power management, your key words were "as I understand". The problem is your lack of knowledge again. Your Thinkpad T500 has switchable graphics. The two graphics chipsets are an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD and ATI Radeon HD 3650. There were indeed problems with the ATI discreet chipset with the Open Source driver. However, this chipset has worked perfectly since at least 2010 if you download the proprietary driver. This is absolutely no different from Windows. The proper driver is not included with Windows 7. You need the driver from ATI to fully utilize the graphics capabilities in your Thinkpad. In this case there is absolutely no difference in terms of what you need to do to make it work under Linux or under Windows. The only difference is your laptop came with Windows preinstalled and the driver preinstalled by Lenovo where under Linux, which was not preinstalled, you have to do it yourself. That's not a failure in hardware support. That's an OEM choosing not to offer Linux preinstalled.

Nothing you've written in any way shows the Linux is not ready for prime time or for average users. First, how many average users even know what color management is, let alone care about it? Second, with the correct driver installed on a current distribution your Thinkpad would work perfectly under Linux. All you've demonstrated is your own lack of knowledge, not any failing in Linux hardware support.

Here is the final thought that the fear mongers don't want you to know: chances are your old system which is too old to support Windows 8 and which you think you need to replace might be just fine if you install Linux on it.

This is quite important. Many people can be quite functional on older hardware with Linux and free software. This puts the power back where it belongs - with the end user - to determine their needs and whether the benefits of commercial hardware and software are worth the costs. Some, like Jack, seem to think Linux is only for enthusiasts. I suggest that for one to effectively use any hardware/OS one must either learn the basics of system support or find friends or commercial support. The inconvenient truth of our modern world is that knowledge workers must see themselves as artisans and accept responsibility for keeping their toolbox in good working order.

"Here is the final thought that the fear mongers don't want you to know: chances are your old system which is too old to support Windows 8 and which you think you need to replace might be just fine if you install Linux on it. "

I absolutely agree with the above statement. Undoubtedly any major distributions supports most of old hardware, regression is very rare. At my office, I don't have any problem installing and configuring linux on intel 845, 915, 945 or amd am, am3 platforms, most of the time I don't need to, it's automatically handled by the distro, and very often it outdoes windows in stability.

Having said that, I'd add - Linux plays 22 with the latest hardware. Of course, after sometime it catches up. For example, take the case of Sandy Bridge graphics - at present linux drivers for this graphics is almost mature. But initial months were painful. It's no fault of the distribution or the community. It takes time. The same is true for hybrid graphics (intel igp + ati, or intel igp + nvidia) and wifi. Now, we have the support. But it took a lot of time. So the suggestion should be:

#1. Most often linux supports the modern/latest hardware, but do check the hardware compatibility before you buy it. cos if you're unfortunate, it might take couple of months to get the full support.
#2. Buy hardware bundled/preinstalled with Linux
#3. We need some vendors that provide preinstalled but less-costly hardware. ZaReason, System76, EmperorLinux do provide preinstalled and high quality hardware, but they are often too price. Many would love to compromise with a moderate quality and low price hardware.
#4. Let's not say a hardware is "supported" when the support is buggy, or the feature is incomplete as the product's OEM manual. I had seen claims of open source novou and gallium support certain hardware. And tried them only to find that the support was very basic and feature-incomplete. The situation is improving, no doubt. But it's about time..

So, to summarize, linux distros don't lag behind supporting hardware, out of the box, they support much more than the all the proprietary oses combined. But it lags in time, due to so many reasons, none of which are fault of linux and the community behind it. But please let's not claim that it supports the hardware of the day, it takes a few days or months to catch up.

Thanks all!

This time I agree with some of what you wrote, Manmath, but your assertion that Linux is always playing catch-up on drivers doesn't fit with reality. Let's take video drivers. Here is an >a href="http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=nvidia_gtx680_windows&num=1">article from Phoronix testing the latest proprietary NVIDIA drivers with a GTX 680 chipset under both Windows and Linux. Their conclusion: "Overall, these results are not too surprising. For the most part the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 performance between the two operating systems was more or less the same, which is to be expected when the driver code-base is largely shared on NVIDIA's end between Windows and Linux (and BSD and Solaris)." I can get you similar data for Intel if you like.

Regarding the nouveau driver, which you criticize, yes, that's always going to be behind since NVIDIA keeps everything proprietary. The solution is to download and install the proprietary driver, just like Windows.

In general Linux does support "the hardware of the day", so I will not accept your admonition not to claim that. That it may take a few days or months to catch-up is true since distributions only release every six months to a year. OTOH, downloading an updated driver or kernel solves that, and again, that is essentially the same as Windows.

I must disagree with your article. Still relying on linux too much is not wise thing too do. Some example: Acer Aspire One 522 with Atheros AR8152 ethernet card and AR9285 wireless card. According to h-node.org these cards work with free software. It is true, or rather, it was true. Starting from kernel version 2.38, this netbook hangs trying to change the network status (no matter, turning on or off the wireless or connecting to the network using 3G modem hangs this netbook completely). This problem is very well known for over a year, and still there's no kernel fix, only workarounds, like booting to windows first or blacklisting these cards. So, even if you bought linux-compatible equipment (I can use even Trisquel and pure Debian Squeeze on it!), you don't have certainty that it will work with higher kernel versions, and you can end up with dilemma, using outdated, not secure drivers, or break up your computer. So don't make promises your kernel can't keep.

zany, I have to give you credit. You live up to your chosen name. First, your NIC problem is solved by downloading a driver from the manufacturer. Second, you are using one hardware regression to claim that all Linux hardware support is shoddy. How many hardware regressions has Windows had in service packs or new releases? Once again, Linux easily does better than Windows in that area.

First, it's not. http://partner.atheros.com/Drivers.aspx is not working. But maybe you meant some other site? If yes, I would be very grateful for a link. Second, what else can I say? It worked fine, now it's not. Do you know which hardware will be next? Could you predict what will break next? No. I know, you can't avoid it sometimes, but it's different when you know that at least someone will try to fix it. And in Linux world it seems that nobody cares about that, it's better to focus on a new shiny toy and say "It's not that Linux doesn't support a lot of hardware -- it's that some hardware doesn't support Linux" than to fix some (not so) old one. And this is what I really claim. I never said that Linux is worse than Windows, why are you using this Windows argument? It's like saying: let him into your house, maybe he is a thief, but the other one is a murderer! It really doesn't change anything, better doesn't mean good enough.

I'm going to take your points in reverse order. Why compare to Windows or use Windows as an example? I thought this was the comment section for my article, the one at the top of the page. The WHOLE POINT of the article is that Linux hardware support is in no way inferior to Windows. That's the discussion at hand.

Second, I completely disagree with your assessment of the desire within what you call the "Linux world." There is no monolithic Linux world. Professional distributions which focus on business are very focused on fixing bugs and not at all focused on shiny toys. I did some work for Red Hat a few years back and I can tell you that is the case with absolute certainty. I think I can safely say the same for SUSE and for a lot of other distributions.

In fact, the only distribution I can think of that has a cavalier attitude towards fixing bugs is Ubuntu. I wrote about that here and here a couple of years back. That behavior is NOT typical of the Linux world as a whole and is one of the main reasons I still recommend against Ubuntu.

I did a bit more research and everything points to that chipset being properly supported in the current kernel. What distribution are you using and which version?

Finally, you are still taking one regression and using it to claim all Linux hardware support is awful. That simply is not the case. With all of Linux' flaws in the hardware area it is still less awful than anything else, which is the whole point of my article. I never claimed Linux was perfect. It isn't.

OK, I must explain more clearly what I meant by that. Such comparisons are only statistics. You know, lies, damned lies, and statistics. The problem is, you cannot translate statistical data into individual experience. It's forbidden by the laws of mathematics, unfortunately many people don't know or forget (or even it's handy for them) about it. Statistically one can be more lucky with Linux? In reality one can't decide on which side she will find herself. Even if she is lucky at the beginning, some quantum fluctuation can flip her to the wrong side when she least expect it ;) I say that something else is more important, the way developers treat coding, and Linux developers don't seem to be too professional in this regard. And this one regression is more than enough to prove it.
By writing Linux world I meant world of linux (kernel) developers, not GNU/Linux distributions.
Do you claim that I'm so unique, that such regression can happen only to me and this particular hardware? I don't think so. As I said before, the most important thing is not the fact of regressions, they can't be avoided, but the way developers treat them, and Linux has many flaws here.
I use some Debian Squeeze based distribution, but already tried, amongst many others, Ubuntu 12.04, some Arch based live distribution, and Debian with sid's kernel, with no luck. Still wait for the latest Fedora to check.

Up until now I haven't expressed doubts about what you've experienced, have I? However, you are once again taking the fact that you have a problem and saying Linux in general has a serious problem. I call B.S. on that on big time.

You claim the kernel developers don't care about fixing bugs. I call B.S. on that big time.

Do I claim you are unique? Nope. However, I found simple workarounds for your laptop, i.e.: here, which involved just changing the boot order in the BIOS, to people who don't seem to be experiencing your problem at all, i.e.: here and here. None of these reports indicate that the problem is in the Linux kernel. Not a one. For all I know this could be a hardware failure in your unit.

I did appropriate searches and I can find no bug report on the kernel that matches your problem. Show me where this has been reported or I'll call B.S. on everything you've written up until now as well. Just because you assume this is a Linux kernel problem does NOT make it so. Oh, and to anticipate your next post, it doesn't mean it's not so either. I just can find no evidence at all to support your claim.

Read what I wrote once again, I explained it before.
They still didn't fixed this one, so how can I tell that they care? I can't.
I know about some workarounds, but they are just what they are: workarounds. Changing boot order means booting from network card first, it consumes time and battery, not to mention that not every user will find this solution. As I wrote in my first post, this netbook works very well with Debian Squeeze kernel, so how can it be the hardware failure? In the first link it's a newer model, let me quote something from your second: "The Ethernet adaptor worries me. While it is supported well and working in general, it repeatedly freezes the laptop when the device is shut down. I have to work around by activating it on demand only and directing Networkmanager or Wicd to a non existing device (e. g. /dev/eth1)". I write exactly about this. According to this:
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/775034
it's a kernel driver problem, still not solved. So what can it be? This netbook works ok with kernels up to 2.38, it's definitely not the wireless card problem, since there are netbooks with different wireless cards affected. Initializing ethernet card, either by booting from network card or Windows fixes temporarily the problem, blacklisting one of the network drivers also. So once again, how can it be the hardware failure if it works in some configurations?

I read the Ubuntu bug report -- a report which only goes to Ubuntu. It looks like an upstream driver conflict. Have you reported it upstream to the kernel devs? If not you've gone to the wrong place. I sure can't solve your problem here.

You still MISS THE MAIN POINT: You have a problem. I got that from the beginning. Your one problem on your netbook is being translated by you to "Linux hardware support sucks" in general. It doesn't. One problem does not equate to an entire pattern of poor support.

END OF DISCUSSION.

No, it's not ubuntu only, from this bug report:
"I have an Atheros wireless card and I use the same work around in OpenSUSE as #3.

http://forums.opensuse.org/english/get-technical-help-here/laptop/454356-acer-aspireone-522-amd-c-50-64-bit-11-4rc1-boot-hangs-without-ethernet-connection.html#post2324960 [...] I had same problems with Ubuntu 11.04 beta so this issue exists across distributions. I don't know if Broadcom owners are affected differently."

I didn't report it, I thought I've found enough reports to think that it's already done (I'm not too good in such bureaucratic affairs). I'm not here for a solution, only discussion, in the worst case I can always install CentOS :) But it's definitely not for everyone. My one problem is not and can't be the only one problem, and it serves well to show how sometimes things are (not) done. Thank you for your time and effort.

Caitlyn, there's one more point, the community/devs should take care. That's about landing the user at least on a Vesa screen if the setup lacks graphics drivers. Just compare these two things:

  • Windows: Most often you need the graphics drivers, and always the graphics card installation is an extra task, a separate routine than the os installation However, whenever there's no graphics driver the OS lands you on a vesa display. Very low res, but stable.
  • Linux: Configures most of the graphics chips out of the box But sometimes becomes very painful even to boot the system successfully. There're workaround especially on the kernel lines to land on a vesa screen

Dropping a user into X with a VESA driver is no solution to anything. First, not all hardware is VESA compliant. I had a Toshiba laptop that definitely was not. Second, video issues never prevent you from booting into Linux, only into the graphical desktop. Booting into the command line instead, which can be done at boot as you suggest by passing a kernel option, or else by going into a virtual terminal by hitting CTRL-ALT-F1 (or F2, etc...) is the correct way to fix a video issue under Linux if a driver for your card is not included in your distribution.

You comparison does make something clear: Linux isn't Windows. The methodology is different. Don't expect Linux to do things the way Windows does. I actually think the Linux methodology, as it exists today, is superior to Windows because it will work with both VESA-compliant and non-VESA-compliant hardware.

> The author almost always proclaims his or
> her love for Linux if it would just work properly.
> In reality their love for Linux is about as sincere
> as my love for Windows, but I digress.

Bullshit. I love linux and I will never use Windows, and in the last few years since the release of KDE4 and the whole Phonon/PulseAudio fiasco I've been spending what adds up to months of troubleshooting of these two... and I still have audio problems. Linux hardware support is a complete disaster, and I choose to suffer that disaster because I love linux, so your claim that my love for linux isn't genuine is a slap in the face.

I was writing generically about crush blogs and other such articles that never fail to bash Linux and promote Windows. I don't know who the heck you are so I couldn't possibly be writing about you personally, could I? Are you trying to claim such writing doesn't exist?

I just reviewed ROSA 2012 Marathon, a KDE based distribution. To claim that the initial release of KDE4 has anything to do with KDE today or that somehow running KDE 4.8.x means "months of troubleshooting" is nonsense. If you have problems with Phonon/PulseAudio, which has also made huge progress in recent years, why not run a distribution without it? You know, like any of the maybe 25-30 Slackware derivatives out there?

Oh, but I get it... you had a problem at one time and therefore all Linux hardware support sucks. A slap in the face? Maybe that's what you need to wake you up to reality.

Hmm.. Should I jump?

As I told before, the situation has improved greatly, enough to meet most of the users, but minor quirks remain. The support is not as complete or smooth as the other OS. Here I'm drawing from my yesterday's experience. It'll be a lengthy discussion, have patience and continue.

Yesterday I built a desktop for a neighbour. It's intel h61 chipset, pentium g620 cpu, atheros lan, intel hd (sandybridge) graphics, and realtek sound. After much though I installed debian squeeze. The major quirks I faced are:

#1 - Sound did not work at all, tinkered with alsa and pulse, nothing worked. Finally I remembered one suggestion I got an year back regarding changing /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf. I had to append this config file with "options snd-hda-intel model=generic" and sound worked.

#2 - Sandy Bridge graphics performance was abysmal. It took 1600x900 resolution out of the box, but page rendering and 3d acceleration was very bad. I had to update the graphics stack from a mix of backports + testing packs and finally it worked. I remember installing the system with a backported custom iso with 3.2 kernel, which everybody knows has support for sandybridge graphics. But 3.2 kernel is not enough, you should have a certain version of xorg, xorg-xserver-intel driver, libdrm and updated mesa and gl code, plus vaapi wrappers (in my case it was some i965-vaapi something). breakage in any would sour the graphics experience.

Well somebody might suggest me to install Fedora on a new hardware, but no. I'd like to work everything on debian.

The gist of the story is: There's no dearth of drivers, but there're so many quirks that plague the experience. I don't blame linux the kernel, but the core and sub-core components that make up a distro are so completed, varied and fast-moving that sometimes.. you know.. what I mean.

More nonsense! You want everything to be Debian whether that's the best distro for the job or not. Blame yourself, not Linux then. Regarding Sandy Bridge performance, should my readers believe your attempt to install Debian or the extensive testing by Phoronix that shows excellent performance? Hmmm.... One single experience cannot be the basis of general conclusions. Extensive benchmarking and testing can be.

Once again, try installing Windows on bare hardware and compare. Linux is not worse than the "other OS." Quite the contrary. You'll have problems and have to add drivers there as well.

The gist of the story is: self fulfilling prophecy thanks to poor choices. The fact that you find need to comment on my article a month after publication and when it's receiving very few page views speaks volumes. Why do people fear the growth of Linux so much? Why is it such a threat?

http://linuxfonts.narod.ru/why.linux.is.not.ready.for.the.desktop.current.html

Pretty much everything I agree with here in regards to why Linux is not ready for anything other than a hobbyist. My experience in using it over the years has borne this out too.

Nonsense! Clearly all those companies I've done work for who use Linux on the desktop, both with my current consulting business and in my time consulting for Red Hat, are deluded idiots. Never mind that Linux on the desktop works so well for them and is integral to their business. Never mind that it saves them huge amounts of money over similar Windows deployments and works better for them. Clearly they should forget about what Linux is doing in their businesses on a daily basis and accept a blog from Russia as the basis of their business decisions.

Oh, and no, I won't waste time debunking your long and highly inaccurate post. The fact that you find need to comment on my article a month after publication and when it's receiving very few page views speaks volumes. Why do people fear the growth of Linux so much? Why is it such a threat?

hmm... need i repeat? well, i always agree and it's a known fact that linux supports most hardware out of the box than any other OS. period.

But, even if there is driver for some particular hardware, sometimes you have to do some workaround such as changing some config files, getting something from upstream, etc. (read discussion forums of all the latest releases of fedora, ubuntu and your favorite distribution, you'll get tons of such thing as there's driver, but you need to do so and so to get it working properly). Linux kernel is under rapid development and has support for the current and sometimes even upcoming drivers, but your success with a particular device depends on a lot other things than just the drivers. It's great on philosophical/theoretical points. Cos it makes things more modular and often very light, but it doesn't always offer a better user experience.

I'm drawing up on others' experiences regarding sound, graphics and lan drivers.

Are you for real? You don't have to go "upstream" as in to manufacturers for Windows drivers? Since when? Everything you read in Linux discussion forums is real, of course. When Windows isn't preinstalled is it any easier? Of course not. Did you miss the entire point of this article? On a level playing field Linux is far more likely to succeed in terms of getting the OS installed without pain. You write based on the experience of others who have had difficulty. I believe that. I just don't believe that Windows, in the same circumstances, performs even one bit better. In fact, it's often a nightmare to install from scratch.

Better user experience? Windows is much better at delivering malware, virii, poor performance, forced upgrades... Yeah, that's so much better.

Look, you write a crush blog. You run down Linux routinely. You seem determined to do it here. Sorry, no sale.

i'm sorry for the mis-communication.

i should have told git instead of upstream.

ok..ok.. good points first.

#1 Linux is lot more secure and stable than any OS under the sun. No disputes.
#2 Linux is highly customizable than any OS under the sun. No disputes.
#3 You don't need to look for drivers, very often it comes with the distro. You get a new device, look for the latest release or a latest kernel and the allied stuff, you'll get it. And those stacks get updated often in couple of months. No disputes.

I agree. And I'm running linux at my office (a mix of centos and debian) and home (a mix of debian, arch, pclos). I love it for everything i get for free. I don't see a reason to blame for anything free. The community is great for putting so much voluntarily.

now, the bad points.

There are still so many workarounds in relation to drivers. The driver thingy (what should i say kernel modules, xorg bits, mesa stack, drm packages... vaapi, vdapu... what?) is not unified. Every bit and piece though very good in itself, taking them all along together is sometimes little problematic. It's not only about graphics, the story is same across sound, wlan and others.

Well, I know this modularity has great benefits. But on a user-level it would have been better if a driver meant a package, i mean a deb, rpm, tgz, or whatsoever. I'm aware it's not as simple as I say, it will need a total overhauling of the things in the kernel level. It should also require a lot of OSS communities to adhere to some standards, some api and some simplification. I know it's unix way of doing things. I love it and I don't care if it's userbase is low or high.

And please don't consider prefer the other OS to Linux. A big NO. Linux is very great in many areas. I just hope for better future where there will be no workarounds on drivers, no feature-incomplete driver releases, no ugly quirks (once in ubuntu i had saw both kernel drivers and non-free bcmrc stuff fighting for the spot). It's just that. And I'm not blaming anybody for these, cos building, reverse-engineering and maintaining a billion devices drivers is very tough...

aha.. think i am done.

Once again, you are ignoring the main point of the article and damning Linux with faint praise. The "workarounds" don't matter if Linux is preinstalled and are not worse than what one is likely to run into installing Windows from scratch.

The diversity of everything, including packaging systems, is the great strength of Linux, not a weakness. An operating system is not one size fits all. Windows tries to be that and fails miserably. Windows has never managed to get a majority share in the server room despite two decades of a strong Microsoft focus in that area. They currently enjoy a 1% market share on phones and do poorly in other embedded devices as well. Why? Windows doesn't scale well and you can't adjust it to specific needs. Linux can and is specialized into distributions that work best in specific areas. Android is such a distribution and it holds a 50.9% market share on phones.

Windows has more "ugly quirks" than Linux ever will. The things you ask for: forcing "communities" to adhere to one standard rather than diverse offerings, will never happen. Linux is not Windows. It will never be Windows or Windows-like. That is the basis of your complaints.

You say you don't care if Linux has a high or low market share. I don't believe you. You've been trying in comment after comment after comment to tell people how Linux just won't work for them. It seems to me you want to dissuade people from using Linux. That's what your blog is all about as well. I, on the other hand, do want to see a level playing field where people can choose Linux or Windows or whatever based on the merits of how well it will work for them and nothing more. If that happens Linux would have a much larger market share.

Oh, and I also don't believe you are done. You'll never be done.

nothing pains more than distrust!

i love linux, my heart knows it. sadly, i can't show you my server racks and my office systems where linux as a no-nonsense system works pretty well than i ever wanted for. this entire thread of commenting is about linux vis-a-vis a consumer home desktop plus the role/status of drivers.

besides, if you have scanned my blog from the day i started it till date, you'll know it was started out of pure love for linux. you wont find bs adwords despite it getting a good page hits. you'll find steadily a growth of scepticism for linux as a desktop (not as a server). i am well aware of linux as a server, a development platform or as a hardened workstation. The sketicism arose as I started deploying linux outside my home and office as home desktops. There the situation is quite different, they don't buy devices looking at the respective HCLs despite my suggestions. Believe me or not I have faced device driver related issues very often. Everytime I or a good fellow assisting me have succeeded getting the devices work, sometimes just by upgrading the kernel and some core packages, sometimes just building the device modules, and rarely putting extra pci devices that work well on linux. That's why you saw my first comment to your port. I won't agree that getting device drivers to work is not smooth.

Come on, on this date I've almost zero problem configuring the graphics pre-sandy bridge or pre-amd-fusion era. The current scenario is not that bad, but not smooth.

Last month, one of my friends, Krishan, got a shiny new HP DM1Z netbook sporting e-350 amd fusion processor. It had Windows 7 Home Basic with a lame MS Office of 1 month trial and Symantec antivirus trial. Also it came along a tons of hp software, tools, bla..bla.. bla.. The installation, recovery partition plus some porgrams took around 20GB of space. I told him to put either the latest LMDE, Debian wheezy or OpenSuse. He tried all them on Live CDs and finally settled on LMDE. First few days were good. Almost everything worked well as desired, and to his surprise it would take very less memory and install space.

Then the obvious happened when he tried to play some 720p and 1080p HD videos. So much frame-drops, tearing and system freezing... I saw it. Told me that though the latest kernel and userland tools have support for fusion platforms it's not feature complete. His surprise, why did they release OSS drivers in such a lame state. No point fighting over the issue, I suggested him to pull in the latest catalyst binaries from AMD website, he did so. The system seemed more responsive than before and again came that HD 1080p video issues. No smooth playback. Then I told him to use xvba-va-driver and change default video playback option to X11 in Totem and Mplayer. Now the HD videos played well, but KMS broke, the booting starts with 1080x768 skipping kms and after throwing some screen garbage takes proper 1366x768 post gdm routine.

Is it smooth experience in 2012? It's just one experience. There are many other issues with other devices also.

I just don't know how to explain that I agree 100% that linux is way more versatily and has support for way more drivers than one can ever imagine in a Windows dominated world. But the problem is workarounds and some quirks.

catlyn, please correct some typo in my post, i just punched letters in a hurry, and delete this comment.

fun article, fun comments, fun hobby.

I worked in support for many companies. No one gave a damn about the OS - everyone focused on their job, needing their software to work.
for this reason we had windows.
Contrary to what hobbyests say, in a corporate setting windows is the winner. We'd buy hardware, insert a windows disk... and done. working computers.

We'd try linux every now and then, and spend days trying to get the machines ready for workers. it never happened. so many problems. it was always unreliable.
A few workers would request linux, and we'd allow it. When they started to fall behind they revert back to windows - too much time fiddleing with linux...

So for all the smart ass comments above, there's one FACT in the corporate world - windows is more stable.
If you're sitting in your basement you can disagree, if you're sitting in the penthouse i know what os you're using.

If you're talking about server hardware, Linux is a no-brainer. Stick in disk, some time later you have a server ready to go. I haven't met any server hardware that Linux isn't easier to set up on than Windows is, and just as stable as WIndows 2K8R2 -- set it up, turn on auto-updates, and forget about it.

If you're talking about desktop hardware, Linux is less useful on modern hardware -- the most common stable Linux distros that use the 2.6.32 kernel (the ones you'd use in a production environment) won't even start up X11 on any Sandy Bridge desktop computer because they have no support for the built-in Sandy Bridge graphics adaptor, requiring you to add extra hardware. If you're talking laptop hardware, Linux is total fail. The vast majority of wifi and graphics chipsets used in the very latest laptop computers simply don't work with stable Linux distros, leaving you with a brick with a command prompt that can't talk to anybody. And unstable Linux distros aren't a solution because security fixes for them cease within a year or so -- meaning that after that, people will be left completely unprotected (since ordinary people -- unlike. geeks -- don't update their OS just to get security fixes).

Note that most of the "personal computers" sold to individuals today (as vs. corporations) are laptop computers -- the desktop is dead as a boat anchor, even my 65-year-old mother has abandoned her boat anchor in favor of a cheap HP laptop purchased from her local Best Buy that she can carry with her on her travels to visit grandkids and nephews as well as use at home -- so the fact that Linux support for laptop hardware is so abysmal is A Problem if you're talking about Linux on the desktop.

So glad I stumbled across this article. I haven't installed Linux in a long time, and was trying to find hardware compatibility lists and was getting more and more concerned. Knowing that they're hard to find because they're pretty unnecessary is a huge relief! Thanks for writing a great article.

sorry but linux hardware support and software handling of hardware IS crap. my belief is linux developers want to work on sexy things not boring hardware support because let me tell you that every single time I try to install Linux I have problems. you don't realise that Windows and Mac are popular because they WORK out the box. .sorry but you guys all have your head up your asses because hardware support in Linux plain SUCKS

Hi, can you ignore my previous comment which i now feel quite guilty about?
i have now tried puppy linux and been blown away by the hardware support
in fact after only one day i'm getting ready to replace XP and install it on some other people's computers. i'm so glad to be proved wrong. the facts on the ground have now changed, but it took a lot of googling and pure luck to stumble on puppy. but only a few minutes to make it change my mind

Tell that to my USB TV tuner.

I have a USB TV tuner that works plug and play in Windows. It's dead simple to set up, as is Windows Media Center.

But the tuner doesn't happen to be supported natively by Linux. I realize that may be the manufacturer's fault, but to me as an end user, it's frustrating no matter whose fault it is. It makes me more willing to stick with Windows. I was able to find some special drivers, but the amount of command line I had to learn to make it work (maybe!) was a big turnoff. I almost never have to open a command line in Windows or Mac OS...yet so many of the message boards, etc. that I see are all about command line solutions. Why aren't there more GUI interfaces to install even home-brewed drivers? It's 2013 for heaven's sake.

I do tech support for a living, so I'm a fairly savvy user, but every time I try to make a foray into Linux (with the exception of Android, which I love), it becomes so difficult to learn use that it's not worth the hassle. I'm not into command-line or learning any kind of code. I'm not a programmer. I'm not interested in customizing the operating system. I just want something simple that works out of the box for my needs (namely my HTPC/DVR needs).

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