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Hardware Manufacturers that Actively Support Linux? 650

Posted by Cliff
from the doing-more-than-paying-lip-service dept.
wirefarm asks: "I know there is are lot of well-supported pieces of hardware for Linux, but I was wondering, which vendors really go out of their way for the community? While tracking down drivers for a wireless PCMCIA card today, I found that the vendor boasted of having Linux support, but it was seemed that they were actually touting drivers that were community-developed, rather than written with any help of the company. So my question is this: Which companies really stand out when it comes to providing specs and developing drivers?"
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Hardware Manufacturers that Actively Support Linux?

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  • Not yet! (Score:3, Informative)

    by samjam (256347) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:00AM (#3401265) Homepage Journal
    Canon don't yet, I was very annoued with my facncy new cheap 650 USB scanner!

    They are still "thinking about it" and won't give out any specs in the meantime.
    • Re:Not yet! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by volsung (378) <stan@mtrr.org> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3401298)
      Note to people looking for USB scanners: Epson has apparently been nice to the developers. From the SANE USB scanner list:

      Epson have[sic] been very helpful with the development of the backend, to the point of providing documentation that's not yet released.

      • Re:Not yet! (Score:3, Informative)

        by rafelbev (194458)
        This also applies to their printers. They are the most supported... much more than HP does. Epson printers simply ROCK regarding linux support. My Stylus never gave me problems and I know alot of people who can say the same. They guys who import them in my country support our LUG too.

        Just my 2c

        Rej
      • Re:Not yet! (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by prizog (42097)
        "Epson have[sic] ..."

        No, not sic. It's a British (and Australian) convention to treat a company as a group of individuals, a plural. This makes a lot more sense than American, which can't make up its mind whether companies are singular or plural. Both of the following are acceptable in American, although the first more so: "IBM is the leader in memory technology; they have just released a new 1TB memory module." "IBM is the leader in memory technology; it has just released a new 1TB memory module."

        Disclaimer: my Australian sample size is 1, and my British sample size not much larger. I'm an American who is trying to switch to the British convention for obscure political reasons (I don't like the idea of companies as entities comparable to individuals -- it removes responsibility and encourages unethical behavior).
  • Intel (Score:5, Informative)

    by swagr (244747) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:01AM (#3401270) Homepage
    My Compaq Evo n600c laptop had an eepro100 that wasn't supported by the kernel until 2.4.18.

    Intel had a src download driver that compiled and worked flawlessly.
  • nvidia, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dead_Smiley (49033) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:01AM (#3401271) Journal
    they are not Open Source. I guess this is the obvious one to many... mode me down if you wish.

    • Re:nvidia, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by knewman_1971 (549573) <kris.newman@NoSPam.khaosx.com> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:10AM (#3401353)
      Call me crazy, or mod me as flamebait, but...

      Frankly, I couldn't care less if nvidia's drivers are open sourced. After spending months trying to play Quake II on a Voodoo5 5500, I bought a GeForceII MX 400. I was playing within 5 minutes of installing the card.

      I've owned an Intel Pocket Concert MP3 player for over a year...still can't use it on Linux...(yes, there is a project in ALPHA on freshmeat...and it's been in Aplha for the same ammount of time that I've owned the player.

      My concern with Linux drivers for hardware begins with "If the fscking thing supported at all?" and ends with "Hmmm. WHich kernel am I going to have to use today?". If a vendor actuallly takes the time to give me drivers, then fantastic. I'm just not going to quibble about the open source thing.

      I'll fight that battle when MOST vendors include drivers. Until then, I'm happy just to be able to use my shiny toys.

      • Re:nvidia, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by fizz-beyond (130257)
        Frankly I'm with you, there are alot of people here on /. that would stone you if they were given the chance because you didn't release something opensource, and quite frankly I think it's too extreme.

        The choice of what license to use must be made completely based on the project. I assume in nVidia's case they don't want to give up the specs because they feel that it would help enable people to reverse engeneer their product (that's only a guess), but they still want to support free software.
        • Re:nvidia, but... (Score:5, Informative)

          by defile (1059) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:51AM (#3401650) Homepage Journal

          Binary only drivers are inferior. Even when you have an open sourced kernel module to intermediate. The argument would be less unreasonable if it was source vs. open source, but it's not. It's binary only vs source available.

          In any case, nVidia wants to open source their drivers. The reason I got for them being binary only was that they licensed the AGP code from a third party which is unwilling to open their code. Too bad.

          • Re:nvidia, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Eric Smith (4379)
            nVidia
            wants to open source their drivers. The reason I got for them being binary only was that they licensed the AGP code from a third party which is unwilling to open their code.
            If that was really true (which I doubt), nVidia could release the sources with the third-party code stripped, and the community would write a replacement for that part.

            The reality appears to be that they think by releasing sources or programming specs, they'll somehow make it easy for a competitor to clone their chips. But as any ASIC engineer knows, that's not true. If it were, everyone would be making Pentium IV clones, since the specs for that are published. The reality is that designing a chip with tens of millions of transistors is a very large amount of work, even with the programming (register) specs.

            nVidia did release some source code at one point, but it had been run through the C preprocessor, so it was effectively obfuscated.

            I used to buy nVidia-based cards, but now I prefer ATI or Matrox. They may not be as high performance, but to me the support is much more important. Anyhow, I have yet to find anything I do for which the performance of the ATI or Matrox cards is inadequate. I don't have any need for frame rates above 72 Hz.

    • Re:nvidia, but... (Score:2, Informative)

      by (startx) (37027)
      IMHO, nividia is awesome. I don't care who has issues with the license of their drivers, at least they work. Not only that, but I get higher framerates in slackware than I do in windoze 98. As long as the nvidia binaries remain rock solid and work out of the box, I really don't care if I have the source or not.

      side rant: ATI on the other hand releases the specs, but seems to do no actual work themselves. This does help produce free drivers, but they take forever! My friends radeon 8500 STILL doesn't work in XFree fully, while my gf4 ti 4600 has been humming along nicely since the day I bought it.
  • ATI (Score:5, Informative)

    by CynicTheHedgehog (261139) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3401294) Homepage
    ATI gets a lot of bad press for their drivers, but they do release the specifications for their hardware to multiple open source development groups. What you end up with is Free, open drivers that are as good as the groups that make them. This as opposed to NVidia, a company that although support Linux through binary drivers, does not release the source code or specifications.
    • by Sabalon (1684)
      Oddly enough, as you were trying to say that ATI is a little better than Nvidia (cause of the opensource/binary driver thing), you have said that NVidia activey supports linux - goes out of there way as the question said, while ATI just says "here...good luck".

      ATI gets a lot of bad press for their drivers for a damn good reason too :)
      • Re:ATI (Score:5, Informative)

        by CynicTheHedgehog (261139) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:30AM (#3401501) Homepage
        while ATI just says "here...good luck"


        Circa 1998, this was all anyone ever wanted. Remember the OSS (sound for linux) project? They claimed that if someone bought them a board, or gave them the specs, then they would write a driver for it. And they did, too. I suppose it's reasonable to expect a company to produce drivers for Linux, but remember, there are umpteen billion operating systems out there, and these companies don't have the time or resources to develop for all of them.

        Personally, I'd rather have the specs and free drivers that anyone could hack on. I'll bet the NVidia/AMD issue wouldn't have lasted a week (hell maybe not even a day), and with time people will hopefully no longer have a reason to bitch about drivers for ATI hardware.
        • I suppose it's reasonable to expect a company to produce drivers for Linux, but remember, there are umpteen billion operating systems out there, and these companies don't have the time or resources to develop for all of them.

          That's why we should all be supporting Project UDI [project-udi.org] (Uniform Driver Interface). You write a hardware driver once and it works (unchanged) on all UDI-enabled operating systems. What could be better?
      • ... Of course, there is an argument that just giving the hardware specs and saying 'good luck' is the open source route..

        Since if RMS etc are to be believed hundreds of us(*) then jump in, write free (beer/speach) drivers, if something does not work it gets tweaked/fixed etc..

        [Of course that is a bit trollish] What shows a true commitment to the open-source customers is community development, with the manufacturer releasing HW specs, but with them also making some technical resources available to answer the really difficult questions driver development often poses (awkward timings/settings/etc..)

        (*) Well.. not me obviously, I can't program C/CPP/ASM at all, and I guess nobody wants drivers written in Perl ;)
        • I remember reading somewhere that ATI developers are allowed and I think encouraged to participate in Open Source projects. This is hearsay of course, but it would be nice if it was true.
      • considering that they EMPLOY people to work on XFREE86 I dont think that they should do anything else

        what should they do ??

        oh and the ATI MIPS SOC chip has a linux port

        so really ALL of their chips graphics/CPU's support linux and thats better than 99% of the others and definately better than NVidia closed source fscking stuff

        regards

        john jones
      • Re:ATI (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fluffy the Cat (29157) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:10AM (#3401804) Homepage
        NVidia activey supports linux

        No, NVidia actively support Linux/x86. Want to use a GeForce in an Alpha? Oops. By releasing documentation, ATI allow their hardware to be used on all Linux platforms rather than a subset of the popular ones.
    • by lkaos (187507)
      FUD, FUD, FUD, FUD *to the SPAM theme*

      ATI only releases a portion of the specs to a small group of developers who have signed an NDA.

      ATI does not release specs for features that are unique to ATIs cards.

      So for stuff like hardware iDCT and TV-OUT, ATI has released absolutely no specifications to anyone.

      Not to mention the fact that they do not like to give their specs out much so you end up with like 3 people who actually have the specs and everyone else has to reverse engineer the drivers to figure anything out.
    • Re:ATI (Score:5, Informative)

      by Performer Guy (69820) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:52AM (#3401666)
      NVIDIA actively support Linux by constantly releasing up to date drivers that are very high quality. The NVIDIA drivers are unquestionably the highest quality OpenGL implementation available on Linux without exception. ATI supply the specs but apart from that do almost nothing, they have enough trouble supporting high quality Windows drivers. The reason you need the specs is to get any kind of driver support at all, when the manufacturer is delivering full high quality up to date drivers with more OpenGL support and extension support and quality than anyone else I'd rather have that than specs and a driver development effort that can't keep up. OpenGL is not like most other driver efforts, there is a level of complexity and testing required which seems to require more support and maintenance and a higher level of expertise to get high quality than is currently applied to them by the Open Source community. I'm disappointed by people who constantly feel the need to dis NVIDIA when they do more to support Linux than any other hardware vendor, simply because the way they choose to support Linux doesn't match your philosophy.

      This is not a vendor who ignores Linux, they give Linux fantastic support at a level beyond any other hardware manufacturer due to the complexity of their effort. It also produces better results than the driver development models you espouse.
      • Re:ATI (Score:5, Informative)

        by Hamshrew (20248) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:21AM (#3401866) Homepage

        As another person pointed out, that does little good when trying to use the Nvidia cards on another platform. While the binary driver is their choice, and I applaud the work they have done, there are other reasons to choose an open-source driver.

        As for ATI doing "almost nothing," they were, until very recently, paying developers to work on their open-source drivers, in addition to releasing specs, which was all the community asked for.

      • NVIDIA actively support Linux by constantly releasing up to date drivers that are very high quality. The NVIDIA drivers are unquestionably the highest quality OpenGL implementation available on Linux without exception.

        Well, perhaps ... but NVIDIA's closed source drivers, while good in some respects, do occasionally cause X to hang for no apparant reason. Switching NVIDIA cards, or updating to the current drivers, does nothing to alleviate this, although switching from an NVIDIA card to an ATI Radeon card did solve the problem, as did using the Free Software Nvidia X driver ('nv') with the same hardware that was so troublesome with the 'nvidia' driver. And yes, this is with AGP settings in the safest, most conservative mode (cf the NVIDIA driver docs for details).

        So while the OpenGL implimentation may be very good, the closed source nature of the driver means I'm forced to wait for an officially unsupported, binary-only driver, to be fixed someday, or I have to find an alternative. This seriously decreases the value of the NVIDIA driver and hardware for use where I work and live.

        ATI does not suffer from this handicap, and while its OpenGL support may not be as good as NVIDIAs, it does work well, and without the system stability issues incurred by using NVIDIA. In addition, the free and open nature of the ati drivers insures that my hardware will never be orphaned, even if ATI has a change of heart (or financial troubles) down the road. The closed source NVIDIA drivers give me none of those guarantees (though the fallback nv driver helps, as long as you don't need digital out or multi-head support).
      • Re:ATI (Score:3, Informative)

        by ivan256 (17499)
        There are two types of stories you hear about nvidia drivers. (I speak as someone who has three machines running nvidia cards)

        You see the people who have no trouble, and assume that th because they have no trouble the drivers are great, and hence nvidia is great. And then there's everybody else. Each of my 3 machines have had the X server die on occation running the nvidia driver. I have never seen XFree86 die when running any of the open modules that come with it. The module from nvidia doesn't like if you use 2 cards, wether they be both nvidia cards or otherwise. The nvidia driver doesn't always properly put monitors to sleep when it blanks the screen. I have lost a monitor to this bug. This is what you call great support? Where are the binaries for all the other platforms? Where is the support for non-X related graphics? What if I want a dual head framebuffer console?

        Are you trying to tell me that you have never had XFree86 die on you with the nvidia driver? I don't believe you. You either haven't been using it for long, you reboot into windows all the time and never have a session open for very long, or you're lieing.

        Here's the point. The binary nvidia drivers for linux suck at what they're intended to do (support nvidia cards on i386 linux boxes), and that doesn't even touch on all the things that they can't do because nvidia doesn't bother letting you (like using them on a mac). The open source driver is good, but it can't do 3d, and it can't support dual-headed cards, so I'm forced to have my session disappear out of under me at random once every month or so, or go out and drop a load of cash on a new, non-nvidia, dual head card. Grrr.

        This has nothing to do with philosophy, that's another issue for another time. Doing more then any other manufacturer (which isn't true, unless you only count video) isn't good enough. Why is it that if you're a corporation that buys some nvidia chips, they give you the specs so you can program for them, but if you're a consumer that buys some nvidia chips, you don't get the specs, and you aren't allowed to program for them. Why the double standard. Hell, we even pay more for each chip then some company that's buying in bulk. Is it too much to ask to want to know how to use the device you've spent good money on? What good are all the features if they won't tell you how to turn them on.

        NVIDIA: if you're reading this, release the dual head specs! I don't care about 3D support, just let me implement dual head in the open source driver! (And what's up with the splash screen, why do we need to wait for that?)

        --

        And now, off to be modded down by all the nvidia fanboys with mod points...
      • Re:ATI (Score:3, Informative)

        by Paul Komarek (794)
        Are the NVidia drivers really the highest quality, without question? What about FireGL, and other "professional" cards? I expect the highest-quality OpenGL implementations for linux happen on cards with more precision than any of the consumer cards offer (though the Kyro II has more internal precision than most). NVidia's binary-only drivers are probably pretty good for gaming, for those people who don't mind "tainting" their kernel.

        I'll stick with ATI, who has provided information and money for linux driver development. I have a Radeon DDR AIW, Radeon DDR 64, and a Radeon 8500 (still waiting for 3D on the 8500, but it appears to be coming). I'd stick with them even if they only provided the information.

        -Paul Komarek
  • by dam (61193)
    They develdoped stuff for BIOS power management, specific motherboard chip related things (cpu fan speed or stuff like that) and apparently the 4 Gig patch for the Kernel.
  • by OccSub (572282) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3401296)
    My rule of thumb: If it's cheaper than all the others... it won't work under Linux
    • In which case, it will (1) cost more than all others and (2) not work under Linux. It just depends on the hardware in question. Things like network cards and crappy video and sound are cheap and probably work just fine under Linux. About the only cheap things I can think of that won't are WinModems and CD writers.
      • by CJ Hooknose (51258) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:55AM (#3401680) Homepage
        About the only cheap things I can think of that won't are WinModems and CD writers.

        I'll give you the LoseModem point, but CD-RWs? Which cheap CD-RWs have you seen that refuse to work? The breakdown as I've seen it is this:

        • SCSI CD-RWs just work.
        • IDE CD-RWs made after 1998 all follow the MMC-3 standard, so they work with "append='hdc=ide-scsi'" in /etc/lilo.conf and "modprobe ide-scsi" executed from /etc/init.d/boot.local .
        • Most parport CD-RWs work, but configuration is a pain, they're too slow, and they're expensive.
        • About 70% of USB CD-RWs work, as long as you're using a recent 2.4 series kernel. These are also too slow and expensive. If you're not sure which models work, look here [qbik.ch] for recent information.
        • Firewire CD-RWs work if you enable the experimental Firewire support in your recent 2.4 series kernel.
        If you run into problems, c.o.l.hardware [news] is your friend, as is DejaGoogle [google.com] .
    • Re:The general ruel (Score:5, Informative)

      by gmack (197796) <gmackNO@SPAMinnerfire.net> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:21AM (#3401433) Homepage Journal
      Uhh no

      The cheapest 10/100 ethernet cards tend use an RTL-8139 wich has good drivers while some of the more expensive cards don't work at all.

      Price just isn't a good indicator.

      • Re:The general ruel (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ImaLamer (260199)
        Linksys cards (urggh tulip!) are pretty cheap and even have Turbo Linux included. They also boast that they will work with any "Network Operating System".

        I'm guessing that they are figuring that you want the most out of that product when they include linux CD's.

        But when it comes to modems they are WinModems, soundcards... forget it! and other devices are the exception.

        My cheap little USB Philips camera is supported - although I've never tried to use it for more than a microphone - so there is some devices which price is obvious.

        • I am afraid of Linksys cards. Very afraid.

          Before I started using Linux, I bought nothing but Linksys cards. I always bought the "LNE100TX". I thought I was always buying the same card...

          The problem is that Linksys has sold about five different cards under that same name. These days the card will actually say "Version 4.0" or whatever on it, but the 2.0 version wasn't labelled (the web site had instructions for how to look at a card and guess whether it was a 1.0 or a 2.0... yuck). I have about four different versions of the "LNE100TX". Some of them have done well for me under Linux; others sucked. I don't want to deal with this ever again.

          I was using a Linksys LNE100TX card, I think it was a 2.0, in my Linux server at first. I noticed that my server seemed a bit slow in file transfers using Samba, and I ran some tests: I was getting, not 100 Mbps, but 2 Mbps. Slow indeed.

          I asked for help on USENET, and several people told me to get a 3Com 3c905c card. I got one, and I now get 76 Mbps from the same Linux server.

          The 3c905c card puts up a menu during boot; you can set it up to boot from a DHCP server. I'm planning to play around with a diskless Linux box with one of these cards and lots of RAM.

          A list of the best network cards for Linux:
          http://www.anime.net/~goemon/cardz/ [anime.net]

          Two really helpful web pages:
          http://www.fefe.de/linuxeth/ [www.fefe.de]
          http://www.scyld.com/network/ [scyld.com]

          The USENET thread where people helped me with my problem:
          google search for "comp.os.linux.networking Speeding up my server" [google.com]

          steveha
    • Re:The general ruel (Score:5, Interesting)

      by joeface (182928) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:42AM (#3401580)
      In general I completely agree with you.

      I was very surprised recently, when I came across a Lexmark laser printer (the E210), that was quite a bit cheaper than any others (US $100.00 after a $50 rebate).

      It included a Linux driver that works perfectly with CUPS.

      It's not such a big deal to see a printer working well with Linux, but there was even a little penguin on the box -- I was thrilled :)
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3401297) Homepage
    More broadly, is there anywhere you can go to get information on what peripherals work with Linux? The poster refers to "tracking down" drivers. Is it really as bad as that, just Google searching for it or something? I recently bought an internal modem that was advertised on the box as working with Linux, but I could only get it to work intermittently. It would have been nice to be able to find information about that particular modem from people who knew more about the kernel and drivers than I do.

    I don't really care if the manufacturer actively supports Linux. I think that's too much to ask. But I would like to be able to go to a web site somewhere and find out what printer I can buy that will actually work, and where to get a driver.

  • Matrox? (Score:4, Informative)

    by alexandre (53) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3401303) Homepage Journal
    Well, matrox seems to have been quite nice with their GXX0 séries... (dual screen lib i think etc..)
    • I recently bought the G550. Nice card for a Linux workstation without the need for high performance 3D applications.

      The bad thing about it: The TV Out is NOT supported with Linux, neither with the G550, nor with the G450, only with the rather old G400.

      I tried to find out the status about the driver at the Matrox discussion forum and there many people complained about the missing Linux-TV-Out support but no one, really NO ONE got one single answer to this issue.

      Moreover some people in this group rumoured that Matrox is even going to drop the Linux support completely. What a Mess! Even worse is that they are not releasing their specs so that someone could write the TV-Out support.

      I really feel pissed of by Matrox, I have to state that one of the reasons why I bought the G550 was the TV-Out and now it seems it will never work with Linux. Probably I won't buy from Matrox again after this desaster.
  • Note: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Telastyn (206146) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:04AM (#3401304)
    That just because they were community developed, doesn't mean the company didn't give out specs and info to facilatate the community's work.

    3com cards seem to work on everything
    Recent Intel network gear
    Recent Nvidia
    3dfx used to
    IBM (even before the Linux money, their laptops worked well)
  • Matrox and Nvidia (Score:2, Informative)

    by mrfuzzee (465632)
    Matrox has the new drivers out for Xfree86 which work well, and a hell of a lot better then AcceleratedX. Nvidia also has drivers for Xfree86, and just kicks butt. I have been happy with both, They are relatively easy to install and configure.
  • Creative Labs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kaypro (35263) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:05AM (#3401309)
    I believe Creative has a dedicated site for the continued development of their sound card drivers. They even have a CVS up as well.

    http://opensource.creative.com/

    Cheers!
    • Yeah, but they don't give out all of their specs. From what I understand, some info is given out, but a lot of stuff has to be reverse-engineered..
  • Zero marks for (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:05AM (#3401310)
    UMAX - probably the worst supported scanners under Linux - I've got an Astra 610P, and still have to use WINE to get it to work :-
    • UMAX (Score:3, Informative)

      by ninewands (105734)
      The problem with UMAX CSCI scanners is the crapware semi-SCSI interface card they provide with them. Replace the card with an Adaptec, or some other supported REAL SCSI host adapter and you will find that the UMAX scanners are very nicely supported by SANE.
    • Their USB scanners aren't supported either. I've got a 2100U... Come to think of it, the Win2K drivers for the thing are kludgy too...
  • Linksys (Score:3, Interesting)

    by misfit13b (572861) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:05AM (#3401312)
    They've been pretty Linux-friendly in my experience for my home networking...
    • Re:Linksys (Score:2, Interesting)

      by The Asmodeus (18881)
      What's more is the 4 port Cable/DSL router I bought came with a Turbo Linux install CD. I mean, it's one thing to ship drivers but including a CD of Linux is top's in my book!
  • Nvidia... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ishark (245915) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:06AM (#3401318)
    Bad as it may sound, since they don't provide the source to their drivers, they seem to work seriously in improving them. I've been using them since my old TNT2 card, and the big problems present at the beginning have faded away to give place to a full featured, fast and reliable thing. I've also had answers to my mails reporting problems, which is always nice.

    Speed is now at the same level of Windows, features seem to be there as well (I don't remember if everything works at every resolution yet or no), and over time they have become stable enough to be used as primary XFree drivers (in the beginning I used them only when I needed openGL support).

    Given their work on the driver, I'm willing to live with their closed-sourceness. It's when it doesn't work and I cannot look in it to fix that I become less tolerant....
    • Re:Nvidia... (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by ZaMoose (24734)
      And the fact that all I had to do was add an

      Option "TwinView"
      Option "SecondMonitorHorizSync" "30 - 110"
      Option "SecondMonitorVertRefresh" "50 - 160"
      Option "TwinViewOrientation" "LeftOf"
      Option "MetaModes" "1600x1200,1600x1200; 1600x1200,NULL"


      To my XFree86Config-4 to enable duall-head configuration pleases me to no end.

      X running at 3200x1200 on 19" and 22" monitors is just too sweet.

      Now if only I could get the GNOME menu bars to extend across both desktops...
  • 3ware (Score:5, Informative)

    by wiwo (214485) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:06AM (#3401319)
    3ware actively supports Linux as there a linux drivers on the CD you get with their RAID-Cards. Works fine, at least with SuSE 7.2+
  • nividia and PCtel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GutBomb (541585) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:07AM (#3401321) Homepage
    I would have to say nvidia. they don't provide open source drivers, but usually their windows & linux driver updates are released at the same time, and actually right now, thier linux drivers are a bit more current then the official windows ones. (i am running the 28.80's in linux, but nvidia has only released 28.30 i think for windows) If i have to name another besides windows, I would have to say PCTEL. back in the days when NO winmodems worked, they had linux kernel modules for thier modems, even obscure onboard ones. I haven't heard much from them lately however.
  • I've been subscribed to the linux kernel mailing list for some time, and there's quite a bit of discussion
    coming from employee's of many popular hardware companies. NEC, Promise, IBM, SGI, SUN, to name a few.
    Then there's the ever so popular drivers developed by NVIDIA, closed source unfortunately, but that's
    a company policy iirc.
  • Both Agere and 3Com have drivers available that they've written.
    I don't know the quality of either, but from what I hear, Agere's drivers are good for linux. I know they are for other operating systems.
  • Matrox (Score:3, Informative)

    by shaldannon (752) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:08AM (#3401326) Homepage
    Matrox is actively supporting its line of dual-head cards under Linux and various flavors of Windows. There may also be *bsd support as well, but not being a bsd user, I didn't pay attention. I'm running a Matrox G450 under Red Hat 7.2 (upgraded from 7.1) with two ViewSonic E771 17" by .26 monitors in merged display mode and it is phenomenal. I had to use their tech support list to get it working, but it only took a few days...mostly because I'd ask the question from work, try the solution at home, and then follow up at work. See the screen shot [house.cx] (2560x1024 .jpg image, 10485992 bytes).
  • Compaq (Score:3, Informative)

    by BayStealth (137271) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:08AM (#3401328)
    I am in the process of bringing our brand new network on-line (8 new DL-360s) and Compaq has been extreamly helpful. All of the servers are running RH 7.2 (they were delivered with 7.1 installed) and we have run into several issues reguarding RAID, the LightsOut boards, etc. Compaq support for their hardware and software has been excellent. Not to mention several cool software things that came with the servers.
  • by Basje (26968) <bas@bloemsaat.org> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:08AM (#3401330) Homepage
    According to the sane USB page they release even preliminary specs on demand: http://www.buzzard.org.uk/jonathan/scanners-usb.ht ml [buzzard.org.uk].

    Mandrake linux detected my 640U flawlessly, and it works great. And on top of that, it scans better and faster than my old scanner, which I killed while trying to get it working under linux :) (which I shall not name here)
    • Yup, got an Epson scanner which took me a little while to get working, but nothing difficult; just that I'd never used Sane before. I now do my scanning in linux rather than Windows, as I can understand Xsane better than the Windows software which came with the scanner.

      However, watch out; one scanner (the 1250) doesn't work under linux. Check out the link from the previous article for a complete rundown of supported printers and how well they work before you buy!

  • Many do.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by psavo (162634)
    • Well..
    • Matrox
    • nvidia
    • intel
    • ibar (a.k.a ibm ;)
    • HP (deskjet printers)
    • OKI (4w driver was sponsored by them)
    • AMD
    • ATI (sortof. at least their linux drivers sucks as much as windows one..)
    • ... pretty much more.
    Jeesus christ this lameness filter gets my ass. no wonder there's THGSB week going on. This is SO lame.
  • 3ware... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MonkeyBot (545313) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:08AM (#3401333)
    I have several 3ware raid cards that have worked great. Not only that, but I've had to call several times for support, and every time, I either talked to someone who helped me right off the bat, or was contacted by someone who knew what they were talking about within the day. Twice, they even made driver fixes on the fly and sent me the updated code the next day. DEFINITELY the best company-based Linux support I have seen...
    • I just bought a bunch of new gear and built a server with the intent of setting up a 3-IDE drive RAID5 software under linux-2.4. Well as luck would have it, some wierd bug has bitten my system and I'm getting the dreaded PCI timeouts which hang the whole thing solid. I've tried a bunch of stuff and decided it isn't worth my time to try and solve.

      So I've given up on that and ordered a 3ware 6410 for $99. True hardware IDE RAID5 for under $100...not bad. Good to hear they excel at support. We'll see how it goes when I get it in a few days. *eagerly awaits*. I especially like the fact you can download a full source driver tarball from their website. But of course the driver has been in the kernel since mid-2.2 days.

      Snap up those 6000 series, it looks like they are discontinued (and 7000's start at $250 and are 64bit only! ack!).
  • hit and miss... (Score:4, Informative)

    by laserjet (170008) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:10AM (#3401347) Homepage
    Linux support is kind of hit and miss right now with larger companies. For instance, HP is adding more linux support than ever to their printers, even the office jets, but if you go buy a scanner, they don't support it. Obviously, the community supports a lot of HP scanners, but not the company. [hp.com]

    HP is also supporting RedHat on it's new Itanium servers, and also supports RedHat with its mid-range storage arrays. They seem to be testing the waters, and I think they are doing all right for such a large and slow moving company.

    Samsung is also supporting their printers, by offering Linux drivers and Linux phone support (minimal, but it is there). This is a good thing.

    Qlogic and Emulex both support linux with some of their fibre channel HBA's.


    So as you can see, you kind of have to pick and choose who you get our stuff from. The corporations are still in the "test the waters" phase for the most part, before they dive in to linux head first. They don't want to get burned by wasting money doing all the work if it will not pay off. In another 3 years, I think Linux support will be fairly mainstream as far as business server and workstation equipment go, but it may still be hit and miss in the consumer market (i.e. webcams, cheap USB scanners, cheapo printers, etc.)

    • by tweakt (325224)
      Looks like "hit and miss" is missing an </a> ;-)
    • the problem is not the company as a whole but the subcompanies it is made of.

      the scanner division is not really HP. it's still the origional company and ran the same way it was when it was bought by HP. the scanner people still act like they are holier than god and that linux is evil and they wont waste any time with such as an obscure operating system. (Their attitude not mine) and they think the off the shelf chipset they used in today's usb scanner is a company secret and HP in it's entierity will collapse if you discover what it is..

      the printer guys started life when you onyly had Unix and they look at linux as a welcome draw back to the Unix roots... same with trhe server guys...

      it's all the microcosims insode the corperate whole.. it will take either mass firings or a iron fist from above to get the scanner group on the linux bandwagon... and the CEO/CTO/CFO/EIEIO dont give a rats ass about anything other than seeing the Profits line move upwards.
  • by NETHED (258016) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:10AM (#3401348) Homepage
    DLink has pretty good support, especially for Linux. My dad's noname laptop came with a CD that provided Linux drivers, and they actively support them via the phone support.

  • I don't know if it is universally the practice at Gigabyte, but the networking server group there have been great. They've always made sure up-to-date drivers shipped with everything I've gotten from them. Some of their boards ship with Promise ataraid controllers, and while they couldn't get me the docs they tell me the techs there have been campaigning Promise to be more forthcoming (and they do provide binary drivers for those controllers--I don't use them, but they are there and Gigabyte actually apologized for not having source drivers available).

    Matrox seems to be good too, as I've never had trouble getting their video boards to work right out of the box with X (as I understand it the Matrox folks are more helpful than most to the X developers).

    That said, Promise is clearly bad for refusing to release their drivers in source form (I guess they think their software RAID technology is so advanced it would give their competitors a great benefit--or maybe they are embarassed to let us see it). Logitech have never been friendly to the OSS world about their QuickCam cameras. I think a lot of printer manufacturers have been a nuisance in this regard (I gave up on trying to figure it all out and bought a Postscript-capable network printer). I'd be curious about good and well supported inkjet printers, though...

    Oh, yeah, our Microtek X6EL scanner works great with Linux and SANE. I don't know if the manufacturer is to be credited partially or if the driver author was just heroic in his efforts, but it works exceedingly well.

  • by forged (206127) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:12AM (#3401366) Homepage Journal
    Pick one source from the following list, in no particular order:

    RedHat Hardware Channels
    http://www.redhat.com/marketplace/channel_hardware . tml [redhat.com]
    (among others, there are Dell, Egenera ..)

    Linux Hardware
    http://www.linuxhardware.org/ [linuxhardware.org]

    Linux at IBM
    http://www-1.ibm.com/linux/ [ibm.com]

    Linux at Compaq
    http://www.compaq.com/products/software/linux/ [compaq.com]

    It is a safe assumption that hardware from the 2 above manufacturer will be well supported, since they are supporting Linux heavilly.

    Last but not least, make sure to read the Howto:
    Linux Hardware compatibility HOWTO http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Hardware-HOWTO/ [tldp.org]

  • BusLogic (Mylex) (Score:3, Informative)

    by MoNsTeR (4403) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:15AM (#3401393)
    Do they still exist?
    Anyway, I remember they wrote all their own linux drivers for their scsi cards...
  • The 3 port standalone print server has excellent drivers and docs. They didn't write the drivers, and do not claim to support them, but they did an excellent job of finding them and including them on the CD. The software is provided as-is as they state they don't support it. They do provide docs on server interface and how to connect and configure it. You can even FTP a print job to an attached printer.
    If you want to share a dot matrix, laser, and inkjet with your Linux/Win mix LAN, this is a good way to go. TCP and several other network protocols are supported and can be enabled/disabled per your needs. It does not provide spooling. A machine configured to spool the jobs will be needed if you desire this feature. Otherwise the printers appear (and function) as local printers via the driver. 2 of the 3 ports support bi-directional centronics printers.
  • NVIDIA For One.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CDWert (450988) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:17AM (#3401409) Homepage
    I would say NVIDIA for one, people complain constantly about closed specs etc.

    But the truth is it would be competivley BAD for Nvidia to release the specs, yes others have, they choose not to, thats fine with me, they do provide GOOD drivers, and the SRPMS, as well as tared gzipped kernel modules for you to compile on any Linux setup you wish, the actually libs are closed source but hell they DO provide drivers for an OS that accounts for a VERY small portion of their sales market.

    There are other vendors that provide Linux support, to be honest If I was in charge of a HW company, I wouldnt, I would provide the specs under some kind of closed agreement to 3rd party developers.

    NVIDIA Does provide nice linux drivers, I have, unlike other never had any problem, they release newer version and each generation (for the most part) they get better what more can you ask....(and please dont say provide the specs, if you are thinking or saying that Im betting you have no experince in engineering hardware for a commercial market where competition, especially in th 3d accel, is just downright evil)
    • I don't quite follow your argument. Yes, it's good that they've provided binary drivers - better than nothing, right? And they do seem to keep them up to date.

      But I have two NVIDIA cards to support dual heads. Unfortunately their driver crashes immediately if you try to use it on both cards simultaneously. The only way I can use two heads is to run NVIDIA's driver on one card (which gives me video acceleration) and the old, open-source driver on the other card, which gives me no acceleration.

      So while I appreciate NVIDIA is trying, their drivers are not perfect, and thus they should either open up the source, or the specs.
  • In general, the support for hardware can be guesstimated:-

    1. If the hardware is top end, and likely to be owned by Linux people (gaming graphics cards, hotrod modems, cool peripherals) then they are fairly likely to work, with obvious super-high end exceptions. Top end hardware also usually follows specs for standard stuff (like standard SVGA, etc)
    2. If hardware is low end, forget it. Most of it is manufactured in bulk for Windows only, may have some proprietary code where standards would have done, and is less likely to be owned by a Linuxer anyway. Exceptions below*
    3. Latest products : unlikely to work because drivers won't have had time to get integrated into kernel development, however modules may be available. Again, if it follows standards then it may work (with performance hit) with generic drivers anyway
    I have seen 3Com mentioned, well there's a case in point where they are industry standard network card people. Loads of people have 3Com cards. Loads of people having certain hardware means it's likely to be supported, however....

    * Very popular shitty low end hardware may work due to good hacks by lots of owners, however reverse engineering isn't an exact science and strange hardware stuff means only hardware which is technically acceptable in it's I/O style will work.

    Manufacturers who only develop for Windows are most likely to be found having market share in low end products. The top class lot are much more likely to work. Peripherals that are little more than I/O ports which are instruction driven from host processing (huge binary drivers required) won't work with Linux unless the manufacturer releases all the specs.

    I would say that manufacturers make regular business judgements on all their support: because Linux doesn't have market share enough to make it a sales point to support "end user" hardware and they won't release code (because competitors making low end shit will steal it and obfuscate it as a Windows locked binary) but server hardware is supported rather more quickly, because the server market share for Linux is substantial enough.

  • by Yohahn (8680) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:19AM (#3401415) Homepage
    With the advent of hotplug, and firmware uploading, there are going to be lots of firms offering support for linux, but it won't be included with the kernel.

    I work for a company that will be releasing firmware for our devices, and a script that makes it work with hotplug. We can GPL.

    I worry that drivers like these won't get the attention that ones in the kernel do because they aren't included.

    I hope that there will be some common method of installing firmwares or a commmon repository of firmwares in the future.

    Linux users seem to depend on drivers being included with the kernel, having nothing else to get.
  • Wireless cards (Score:2, Informative)

    by xiaix (247688)
    When I went looking for wireless cards for my Vaio running linux, I found as the author did that most of the 'support' for linux means 'some one figured it out'. Although this is part of the beauty of being a linux user, sometimes you want to know that the hardware manufacturer actually knows you are out there and cares enogh to support you. In the end I wound up buying a Cisco Aironet 350 card ($125 bux at computers4sure.com) [computers4sure.com], which came with linux drivers, software, and install instructions.

    I dont mind spending a few dollars more to support a company/product that supports my choice to use linux [cisco.com]. It was well worth the extra $ to plug it in, run the install, and connect to the network at my college in under 5 minutes.

  • by Tet (2721)
    Now part of ConnectCom, and marketed under the "AdvanSys by Initio" brand. Not only is the advansys driver in the kernel written and actively maintained by the company, but it's superb quality, as well. By far the best SCSI controller I've used under Linux, and I can't recommend them highly enough.
  • by entrigant (233266) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:27AM (#3401480)
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned it but Adaptec has done a very fine job supporting linux. I am not sure how many if any of the drivers they actually wrote but they have a really well designed web site to help linux and *BSD users setup and use a lot of their equipment. They also provide utility software for their hardware. For example I am running Adaptec Storage Manager right now on a linux system with an Adaptec 2400a raid card.

    Belkin also does many of the same things. I know that belkin has a rather wide variety of hardware they sell, however with their UPS's I know for sure that linux is very well supported. Their upsd and ups monitor are closed source but they work very well. They are also rather well documented.

    There is one company that really bugs me though and that is creative. They have opensource.creative.com. They've made many announcments and claim bragging rights for supporting the linux community. The truth is however every driver for a creative device out there has been written by the community with barely any input from creative. On the emu10k1-audigy driver mailing list there's a guy.. I forget his name.. who works for creative that does get info from time to time for the development team, but it always seems like he has to beg or plea for the info he wants to get. Usuaully it seems as if he just asks someone who is coding the windows driver or helped design the hardware without getting approval first from management. I'm not implying anything here other than creative is not actively supporting crap.
    • Adaptec is very cooperative. You can find their page here. [adaptec.com] I think the aic7xxx driver in the 2.4 kernel tree was sponsored by Adaptec (i.e. they paid a guy to write it). It works very well. Here [freebsd.org] is the official page for the aic7xxx driver.
  • by SuperguyA1 (90398) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @10:29AM (#3401493) Homepage
    If we want to live in a non-mono OS society it could potenitally be impossible or at least unrealistic to think that every hardware manufacturer would write drivers to every OS. The fact that the Linux community was able to write drivers means the company probably opened up their hardware specs. This in its self is a HUGE help, not only allowing LINUX drivers but *BSD, BeOS(*sigh*), Plan 9 or whatever to have drivers as well.
  • I just bought a cheap, er, inexpensive Lexmark laser printer. It touted Linux support and even had a Penguin on the box and linux drivers on the installation CD. Unfortunately it still took a bit of fiddling to get the printer to work but work it does. Can't say to what extent they actively contributed versus used other peoples work however.
  • I wonder how many people have encountered the problem I have right now. I bought a Midiman [midiman.com] Delta 1010LT, which the company claimed worked under Linux (through "third drivers", from ALSA). This was fine with me so I bought the card (which box had a nice linux sticker on it).

    I then tried to make the card work under Linux, only to find out that it wasn't supported by ALSA and that though there were some efforts under way, AFAICT nobody has ever been able to output a single sound out of that card. I wonder how many companies use this kind of false publicity with Liunx.
  • NDAs, DMCA, etc.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mike Hicks (244) <hick0088@tc.umn.edu> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:08AM (#3401791) Homepage Journal
    I think there are a lot of companies that would like to do better, but can't due to non-disclosure agreements of one kind or another. Video card vendors like Matrox and ATI can't give out all of the information on their cards due to Macrovision support on TV-output ports.

    I have a laptop with an Intel chipset that has an integrated winmodem that I can't use. Intel is usually very very good about releasing specs (definitely something I'd say they're better at than AMD and Via), but due to proprietary technology, no specs are available, and I can't get the damn thing to work.

    I always get confused when this happens. I always thought that the proprietary-ness of an object was contained within that object. Why companies are so scared to release info on how to get something to work is beyond me. I guess there are some decent reasons for the Macrovision problem (I hate the reasons (it's illegal in the US to not have Macrovision protection, AFAIK), but they are valid nonetheless).

    I hope that Linux will pull some of these companies away from that line of thinking..

    Anyway, I don't know if it's still true, but Epson used to release quite a bit of info about their printing languages. I think HP did as well, at least until they got into their winprinter phase. They seem to be loosening up.

    Hmm.. I think that some of the best companies in this regard have low profiles. All of the big names I can think of have made some pretty poor choices, IMHO.. A lot of companies seem to want to release just enough information to keep Linux users happy.

    I think it's best when companies release this information, though. When the specs are opened up, it means that the product can have a much longer life cycle. As long as there's someone who is interested in keeping a driver working, it'll work. I bet there's a bunch of stuff that's supported in Linux that doesn't work in Windows anymore..
  • by Chris Tyler (2180) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @12:33PM (#3402408) Homepage
    Beside releasing specs, the other thing that the hardware companies can do is support standards and engineer their products so that there is less variation between product generations.

    Rather than invent new protocols, command sequences, and interfaces, they can support a standard interface across their whole product line.

    This makes it easier for the open-source developers, but it also makes it easier for the company itself -- hardware designers, in-house developers, and support people. In many cases, an old driver can be used, perhaps slightly updated to manage a few new features. This reduces the amount of redevelopment and therefore reduces the opportunities for bugs to sneak in -- regardless of the platform.

    Some good examples come to mind:

    - HP scanners. The HP scanner protocol has been pretty much stable for years, and the same command set has been used on the USB scanners as the SCSI scanners. You can take a current SCSI scanner and use it with a driver from 6 years ago. Yes, the protocol is proprietary, but it's well documented and well understood, and it's not changed at whim.

    - DPT controllers (old). These used the EATA (extended ATA) interface across the product line. EATA was well-documented, multi-vendor, and stable. It provided basic compatability with ATA (IDE host adapter) specs but could then take off from there. New cards needed tweaking but not wholesale driver rewrites.

    - Most SCSI tape drives. These all use the standard SCSI tape command set, even though they have very different capabilities. (Contrast this to OnStream drives, below).

    Some bad examples:

    - Early OnStream tape drives. Although the newer units understand standard SCSI tape protocols, the early units used an unnecessary proprietary variation. There were reasons for the variation -- but the fact that the newer drives understand the standard command sets indicates that the variation was not necessary.

    - Video cards. Why can't successive video cards from the same manufacturer each support a superset of the previous capabilities, so that you could use the previous driver to start, then eventually add the new functionality to the driver to fully support the latest card?

    - Many advanced laser printers (this is a cross-manufacturer issue). I have yet to see two different makers that use the same paper-source-select or staple-enable codes. If PCL and PostScript and PJL are all standardized for other functions, why not source-select and finisher options? It wouldn't require an ANSI subcommittee, just one or two face-to-face meetings or a couple of days of faxes and e-mails.

    In most cases, these are engineering problems. The first-generation products need to be designed with some foresight -- version numbers, capability registers, extensible command sets, protocols that can be implemented over different interfaces -- so that later product generations can interoperate, even when they support features which we can't even dream about now.

    -Chris Tyler
  • EDT (Score:3, Informative)

    by spagthorpe (111133) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @01:35PM (#3402866)
    The guys at EDT (www.edt.com) who make all sorts of data acquisition and control cards, support Linux very well. I've used their LVDS cards for a handful of projects, and they are very knowledgeable and helpful with Linux. They have native drivers for the cards, sample code, etc. Highly recommended. I have no connection with them other than being a very satisfied customer.
  • 3ware (Score:3, Informative)

    by Paul Johnson (33553) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @03:38PM (#3404178) Homepage
    They write and then open-source their Linux drivers.

    I haven't actually used their IDE-RAID cards, but everyone I've heard from speaks very highly of them.

    Paul.

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