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Hardware Manufacturers that Actively Support Linux? 650

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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  • by Moneky-Boy ( 569762 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:05AM (#3401307)
    I know Epson is in line with Linux and open source. They don't claim it without proper acknowledgment. Yet there are few companies that are headstrong about Linux like Nvidia. Yes Nvidia might only give a little source, but that is their right. At least they are developing for the Linux arena.

    If the game developers start to support Linux then the Hardware will follow.

  • nividia and PCtel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GutBomb ( 541585 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:07AM (#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.
  • Re:nvidia, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by knewman_1971 ( 549573 ) <kris,newman&khaosx,com> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:10AM (#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.

  • NVIDIA For One.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:17AM (#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)
  • Re:nvidia, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fizz-beyond ( 130257 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @11:31AM (#3401507) Homepage
    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.
  • by matze235 ( 568521 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @12:03PM (#3401745)
    I believe that one of the reasons why there aren't more Linux drivers is that drivers are incompatible with every new kernel release, so binary-only drivers don't make much sense. And binary-only drivers are the only way most vendors want to publish their drivers.
  • Re:ATI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dinivin ( 444905 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @12:24PM (#3401888)

    Or FreeBSD.

    Or heaven forbid you want to run the latest development kernel.
    And don't even think about trying to run two nVidia cards at the same time with their driver. In fact, I couldn't even get my nVidia card to play nice with a PCI Permedia 2 card.

    Frankly, I'd rather not put up with crap like that :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @12:41PM (#3401989)
    techsupport from verizon could be best described as worker drones.

    Make that unqualified affirmative action minority "people of color" slacker drones.

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

    by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @02:09PM (#3402670) Homepage Journal
    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, Insightful)

    by knewman_1971 ( 549573 ) <kris,newman&khaosx,com> on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @03:05PM (#3403044)
    Perhaps I should have thrown in more hardware horror stories...

    * Digital Capture Device (w/USB)
    * My USB scanner.
    * Any of my inkjet printers.
    * The freakin' southbridge on my mobo.
    * Every webcam I've ever tried, with the exception of my Creative Labs cam me, the list goes on. My computer is a toy, from time to time. But most of the time, it's coding, designing, capturing, or something less-than-entertaining.

    I'll concede that if nVidia drivers caused my system to crash, I'd be the first to chunk the card and drivers, and go looking for an alternative. But, I've run Mandrake, RedHat, and Suse (various versions) on the four cards I've owned, and I can tell you that MY only complaint is the splash screen. Which can be turned off.

    But, back at the point, even if I went shopping for a new video card, my argument remains the same. I'm not going to quibble about the source code. If it's open and available, great. If not, and it somehow manages to work despite that, great.

    From my perspective, as an end user, even if the source WAS available, I couldn't do a damn thing with it anyway. Nor do I know anyone who could. Sure, the "community" could probably pull a rabbit out of it's collective ass and build one. But how long do I have to wait? It's not my fault I'm not a device driver programmer.

    Don't get me wrong. At the end of the day, I think open source is a great idea. I'd love for all drivers and software to come with clean, well documented code. But it doesn't. I'd also love to have a group of highly skilled developers on staff who did nothing but write device drivers for hardware that I own, or would like to own. But again, I don't.

    So what's the alternative? Do I have to accept the fact that wanting to run linux precludes me from running the latest hardware?

    Sadly, the answer is yes, in lots of cases.

    For me, the answer is clear. I'm going to give as much business as possible to vendors who are kind enough to throw a bone our way occasionally, as opposed to beating them up for not coming all the way. More power to you if you choose to do it another way.

  • by dinivin ( 444905 ) on Wednesday April 24, 2002 @08:38PM (#3405886)

    I called him a moron because he deserves it. He automatically accuses the original poster of havning hardware issues "that are agp related or something else".

    Why is it that so many of you nVidia fan boys refuse to accept the fact that on some pretty common hardware, the nVidia drivers still have problems for some people?!?


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