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Linux's Achilles Heel Apparently Revealed 1469

ahab_2001 writes "In Information Week's latest 'Langa Letter', Fred Langa points to something that he calls Linux's 'Achilles' heel': 'New Linux distros still fail a task that Windows 95 -- yes, 95! -- easily handles, namely working with mainstream sound cards.' After lamenting his difficulties in getting a particular sound card to work with nine Linux distros, he concludes that his experience 'empirically shows that, despite its many good points, Linux still has some huge, gaping holes--holes that Windows plugged almost a decade ago.' (Oddball note: Information Week prefaced the e-mail alert pointing to this article by saying 'Occasionally, we have news or analysis of such importance that it warrants a special alert to you.' Hmm...)"
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Linux's Achilles Heel Apparently Revealed

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  • Huh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by darth_MALL ( 657218 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:34PM (#8909206)
    Is this a record moment for MS, when 95 outperforms a Linux boxen? I just heard a few coworkers keel over dead.
    • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mr_tommy ( 619972 ) * <tgraham@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:41PM (#8909326) Journal
      It's no record moment; it is (as-ever) a wake up call to the slashdot croud who perpetually fool themselves as to how good linux is. As this article highlights, failing to interact with such basic hardware as a sound card makes it unviable for mom & pop situations! How can you possibly expect people to have to try 9 different distros just for them to get the music working?

      Wake up guys. You need freeze the work geared up towards developers. You need to support these distro's that really make linux child's play. They need the support of as many developers as possible, because unless Linux can really break into the home deskop market it will never suceed truely as a competitor to Microsoft other than in server and techy environments.

      People talk about this being the year of linux. Well, i've been reading slashdot for the last 5 years, and every year in Jan - April it's been Linux's year; if only it were true.
      • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:51PM (#8909513)
        This is assuming we give a shit about average mom + pop situations. Personally, I use Linux for development and my servers. If you want an OS for a mom + pop situation, get Mac OS X.
        • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mr_tommy ( 619972 ) * <tgraham@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:55PM (#8909571) Journal
          This is assuming we give a shit about average mom + pop situations. Personally, I use Linux for development and my servers.

          And therein lies the problem - albeit in a very in-elloquent manner, you've highlighted perfectly how linux dev's and advocats simply don't appreciate the problem - and arguablly won't for a few more years to come.
          • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:58PM (#8909625)
            I'm not sure I see the problem. You were the one claiming that Linux will never take over the desktop.

            He said 'so what? I don't want it on the desktop'.

            So from his perspective, there isn't a problem!
          • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <tmsNO@SPAMinfamous.net> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:02PM (#8909677) Homepage
            you've highlighted perfectly how linux dev's and advocats simply don't appreciate the problem

            What problem?

            Do sports-car enthusiasts think it's a problem that I never learned to drive a standard transmission? Are the going to redesign their cars for me? Of course not.

          • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:12PM (#8909816)
            You know womething... Much of Oracle's software doesn't work well in Mom&Pop situations either.

            I think you have a wonderful opportunity to consult with them and educate them about how you could fix this problem for them.

            If you care about the Mom&Pop market for Linux, and think there's a problem, you're 100% empowered to do something about it.

          • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by gnuLNX ( 410742 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:34PM (#8910129) Journal
            No you miss the point. It is not our goal to wake up to that. You want an app...pay me I will write it for you. Until then either:

            a) Write it yourself
            b) Wait for someelse to do it.

            but for gods sakes man don't expect that we are out to serve your needs.
            • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by zurab ( 188064 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @09:35PM (#8912073)
              In case of hardware drivers:

              c) ask your manufacturer to do it.

              If they refuse or have no interest, make sure you get compatible hardware/software combination next time. There are many manufacturers that happily support Linux without any pain or needing installation configuration whatsoever. I mean you don't go to a store, purchase a Mac-OS-X-only hardware and software, then complain that it doesn't work on your XP, and form an opinion that XP therefore sucks. Not for that reason at least.
        • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Sparks23 ( 412116 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:12PM (#8910604)
          This is assuming we give a shit about average mom + pop situations. Personally, I use Linux for development and my servers. If you want an OS for a mom + pop situation, get Mac OS X.

          But you can't have it both ways; you can't say 'Linux will conquer the desktop world' as many people seem to do, and then simultaneously say '...but we don't give a shit about average mom + pop situations.'

          Linux as a server environment is great; I run two fairly high-load Linux servers in a colocation center, and -- despite my periodic grumbling about RPM dependency nightmares -- I am more than happy with the performance I get out of them.

          But Linux as a desktop environment? I would not want to try and introduce my parents to Linux as a desktop environment in the state any of the current distributions are in. Yah, getting printing working under Linux is certainly doable; install CUPS and the appropriate driver, configure it all, poke at the CUPS internal webserver if you need to check things out, etc. I'm more than willing to take the plunge on that. But I don't want to have to explain CUPS to my parents; they're used to a Windows box where they can go to Best Buy, buy a printer, plug it in, and put in a driver CD. Or the new digicam they just bought; they want to be able to plug the camera into their computer and get their images out into a graphical program where they can e-mail it. They don't want to have to go looking for drivers for digicams for Linux or whatever, they want to just plug it in and put in the CD.

          And for another one, let's go into security updates. Sure, Linux (and open source in general) have a much better track record than Windows of fixing security problems! That's great for sysadmins like myself, but it's not going to do a whit of good in some cases; my parents aren't going to want to stay on Bugtraq to discover that their print daemon has a remote-root exploit they'll need to download a patch for and recompile. They're used to Windows Update, where it'll find the critical updates and download them, then prompt them to install. They don't have to worry about it.

          This isn't to say 'Linux sux!' or anything like that; I happen to think it's a great UNIX server and dev environment, and am happy with my own Linux boxes. BUT, that notwithstanding, it's not a desktop environment I would like to introduce my father to. The investment in user education is more than I want to get into; my father doesn't want to have to learn about autoconf and make, or patch and diff, or worry about watching Bugtraq or whatever. He just wants to be able to surf the web, print things, and use Word and Excel. And my mother, a former AIX user, would feel at home in Linux userland, but doesn't want to muck about with security fixes and upgrades, and /really/ doesn't want to teach my dad how to use UNIX. We've had this discussion, believe me.

          And my situation isn't completely different than a lot of people's; there are some success stories with teaching parents or relatives enough to encourage Linux adoption, but there are also lots of failure stories. And 'well, I can't use my new digicam because I'm running Debian' is not good sales pitch to other potential Linux users.

          If the Linux world is fine with that, then that's great; Linux is great in the server arena, and within that area it does what it does very well. But if Linux wants to take over the desktop world, right now, it's not as approachable as it needs to be in order to be an effective desktop OS for 'mom + pop' situations...and it needs to approach those situations if Linux is to 'conquer the desktop world.' I'd love to see Linux become a solution that I could give to my parents and know they'd be on a stable OS; in the meantime, as you say, the desktop UNIX variant of choice for non-techy end users seems to be MacOS X.

          There's my $0.02. (Or more like $0.20, since this post was a little on the long side...)
      • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by negacao ( 522115 ) * <dfgdsfg@asdasdasd.net> on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:52PM (#8909514)
        Oh yes, it's definetly the linux communities responsiblity to write drivers for sound cards from companies that won't even give specifications.

        Get a clue, dude.
        • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Informative)

          by spamto ( 749259 ) <slashdot@spamto.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:12PM (#8909808) Homepage
          Yes, if Linux is going to be the OS for newbies. Yes, if Linux is going to be the OS for the desktop. The users won't care *why* it doesn't work, just *that* it doesn't work.
          • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:45PM (#8910274)
            " Yes, if Linux is going to be the OS for newbies. "

            It's not. That's what Macs are for.

            Linux is going to be for the corporate desktop where the techs will set up a locked down config that can be managed remotely and kept secure.
          • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ImpTech ( 549794 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:05PM (#8910516)
            Newbies don't install operating systems. The OEM does that for them. Newbies by and large are not a strong avenue for Linux adoption, unless they have a clueful user to help them out. Put Linux on cheap Dells and maybe that'll change.
          • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Vicegrip ( 82853 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:19PM (#8910673) Journal
            Windows isn't an OS for newbies either. Regular Joes rely on manufacturers to put toghether systems for them and support them. They don't do it themselves. Why do you think computer stores charge $$$ an hour for service? Why do you think people line up at them and pay for it?

            Second, nobody who actually cares about Linux wants it to be an 'OS for newbies'. This is left to the producers of well-supported products who want to target that market.

            In Linux, people make money through services. If you want to have your hand held, you're going to have to buy a product from somebody where that kind of support is offered.
        • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Happy Monkey ( 183927 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:14PM (#8909833) Homepage
          It wasn't Achilles' fault that his heel was vulnerable. But it was.
        • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:37PM (#8910171) Homepage Journal
          I completely agree.

          Next soundcard i'm going to buy will be by a company that actively supports linux or opens up the specifications: a product that can't work with both the OSs i use is a crippled one.

          Linux is progressing in many directions, as the installed base gets bigger more companies will look at it, audio card makers included. The number of linux hackers trying to support exotic soundcards will increase too.

          Look at Wintel machines: When the PC came out it won the desktop market by being an office machine first. Amigas had better graphics, apple //gs had a built-in multi-channel audio sampler, Mac had the desktop publishing and high end graphics market.
          Only with the advent of 3D cards and the amiga crisis the pc became also the #1 gamers machine and ubiquitous.

      • Support (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aliens ( 90441 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:53PM (#8909536) Homepage Journal
        You know hardware would be easier to support if the companies that make the hardware would either supply more information for people to write the device drivers or supply linux drivers for download.

        Only so much can be done without the needed info.

        (But yes, things like this are quite annoying to Joe Computer User)
      • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cinnamon colbert ( 732724 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:53PM (#8909538) Journal
        still true after all these years: unix is the system of the future; always has been , always will be untill geeks wake up and smell the coffee: stupid marketing drives sales, not tehcnical chops
      • by David Hume ( 200499 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:54PM (#8909551) Homepage

        It's no record moment; it is (as-ever) a wake up call to the slashdot croud who perpetually fool themselves as to how good linux is. As this article highlights, failing to interact with such basic hardware as a sound card makes it unviable for mom & pop situations! How can you possibly expect people to have to try 9 different distros just for them to get the music working?

        I wonder if there is any possiblity that the writer deliberately or accidentally selected distributions that would not work. From the Langa Letter: Linux's Achilles' Heel [informationweek.com] :

        With that caveat in mind, I'll tell you that the "XYZ" software in the above was
        Xandros 2.0 Deluxe. But again, none of the Linux distributions I've tried so far on this PC succeeded in getting the sound working. That includes majors, such as two versions of Slackware, two versions of SuSE, plus Debian, Xandros, and Lindows; as well as several specialty distros like Knoppix, Knotix, Morphix, and Gentoo. You can count that as seven major versions and four minors; or as nine distributions; but no matter how you count them, not one of those Linuxes fully worked.

        Personally, I'm surprised and disapointed re: Suse. However, I'm also a bit surprised that someone who is seriously trying evaluate Linux and get a sound card to work didn't try either Mandrake or Red Hat.

        • by JohnTheFisherman ( 225485 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:15PM (#8909857)
          My Sound Blaster Live! worked in Mandrake up until around 2-3 years ago, and hasn't since. I've tried every version of Mandrake for the past 3-4 years, almost all of the Red Hat versions for the same period, and they all fail at installing a Sound Blaster Live (other than Fedora 1.0). I tried "a couple versions of SuSE" too, and I can't name the specific versions, but they failed also.

          This was installed in an ASUS Athlon mobo for a few years, and in an Intel P4 mobo lately. Same story with an SBLive at work (Athlon/MSI mobo). Same problem. No crappy hardware, no OEM parts. Always worked in 98, 2K, and XP every time.

          Linux usually detects and then ignores it. Or (bonus!) it gives me an irritating high-pitched note at full volume, without anything else working. Sometimes I've been able to figure out the problem, but it's usually so frustrating and with so little utility, I just give up and reboot into XP.
          • by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian&wylfing,net> on Monday April 19, 2004 @08:35PM (#8911507) Homepage Journal
            Always worked in 98, 2K, and XP every time.

            GEEEAAAARRGGGHH! How many of these asshats are there? The fact that a sound card works under Windows has nothing to do with Windows. The fact that a sound card does not work under a Linux distribution has nothing to do with Linux. The relevant software is the driver, which under Windows is supplied by the hardware manufacturer (who usually gives Linux the middle finger). Try this: plug a brand-new sound card into a Windows box and when Windows asks for drivers, don't supply them. Does the sound card work? No? Wow, Windows must suck!

        • by Tin Foil Hat ( 705308 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:43PM (#8910242)
          Doesn't Gentoo take something like 36 hours (depending) to install? At any rate, with 5 versions of Windows and 9 versions of Linux, he must have one hell of a fast machine to install all that in just 2 days.

          IMO, his time would have been better spent solving the problem on the original install (or first re-install) with a cheap sound card.

          His entries in his forums are interesting as well, especially the one about his really wanting to run Linux on his new machine, but can't because he doesn't want to buy a decent sound card -- yet he's willing to spend 2 days of his presumably valuable time chasing a red herring simply because Linux *ought* to be able to support brand new proprietary hardware out of the box. I smell a shill.
    • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <Satanicpuppy.gmail@com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:44PM (#8909372) Journal

      It's crap, actually.

      I had a dual booting box at work, and my boss, being a total asshole, refused to give me the driver disk for the super jazzy sound card on the damn thing, I guess thinking that music might ruin my productivity. Now for WINDOWS, this was a huge problem, because you couldn't install the drivers without the original cd, don't ask me why. Couldn't download them from the site, couldn't do crap.

      With Linux, on the other hand, the card autodetected and played fine, using, of course, the hacked up, jury-rigged driver that linux always has to use because NO MAJOR SOUND CARD VENDOR RELEASES LINUX DRIVERS, a point not mentioned by the dumbass who wrote the article.

      What was the card, you ask? Soundblaster Audigy Platinum [soundblaster.com] To my tiny brain, that would qualify as mainstream.

      Thus the point is proven totally false by the fact that Linux is capable of doing 2 things a Windows 2000 box couldn't: 1) use a mainstream sound card, and 2) be a server.

      • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dwonis ( 52652 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:59PM (#8909629)
        NO MAJOR SOUND CARD VENDOR RELEASES LINUX DRIVERS, a point not mentioned by the dumbass who wrote the article.

        I'd like to point out that it is better to have good, widely available hardware documentation than vendor-provided proprietary drivers.

        Not mentioning any names...

    • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Funny)

      by ScottGant ( 642590 ) <scott_gant AT sbcglobal DOT netNOT> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:20PM (#8909906) Homepage
      How is it that I can get my sound working perfectly using one of the most obtuse Linux distros out there and I'm a complete idiot? Yet this guy, writing for a major computer magazine couldn't get one of 9 distros to run the sound?

      I'm wondering if it was working fine and he just didn't have the PCM sound up using the ALSA-mixer...wouldn't it be SO funny if it was working all along and he didn't know how to turn the sound up?
  • Damn (Score:3, Funny)

    by platypussrex ( 594064 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:34PM (#8909208)
    I knew I should have kept my copy of Windows 95!
    • by Euphonious Coward ( 189818 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:51PM (#8909511)
      Used to be the pundits said Linux could never go mainstream because there were no office apps, or was too hard to install, or because you couldn't get phone support.

      Now it can't go mainstream because one pundit has trouble with one easily-replaced $10 sound card. Next, they'll say it can't go mainstream because the borders on the "Cancel" buttons are not quite the right shade, or because you can't install MS security patches.

  • WARNING! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mahdi13 ( 660205 ) <icarus.lnx@gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:36PM (#8909221) Journal
    Some sound cards suck and are not supported by Linux...or the original manufactures that went out of business 10 years ago and took the specs with them

    What's with all the Troll articles lately?
    • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Funny)

      by don_carnage ( 145494 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:40PM (#8909289) Homepage

      That's good -- put that on the box: "WARNING: Some sound cards suck and are not supported by Linux. Please select a sound card that doesn't suck before purchasing this distribution of Linux. Thank you."

    • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nightsweat ( 604367 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:41PM (#8909317)
      Doesn't help if you're the nontechnical user stuck with the bad card because the nice man at the store said it works just fine.

      Kneejerk response prediction- "I am so SICK of people saying Linux has to work for nontechnical people! If you don't get it then you suxxor and shouldn't have a computer anyway and we're taking over teh desktop anyway!" How, without any non-technical users, is of course a mystery.

      Winders does devices well because that's where the market's been. Linux would smoke Winders boxes in all tests if it had better drivers.
      • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Informative)

        by DunbarTheInept ( 764 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:46PM (#8909417) Homepage

        Winders does devices well because that's where the market's been. Linux would smoke Winders boxes in all tests if it had better drivers.

        You have the cause and effect backward. Windows has drivers because it's popular. Popularity came first, vendors bending over backward to help Windows work with their products came as a result. The technical framework for third-party drivers is there for Linux. But it's not being used by most vendors.

        You *are* aware that Microsoft doesn't write the drivers for most devices that work with Windows, right? It's the hardware manufacturer that makes the devcice that does that work.
        • Re:WARNING! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:00PM (#8909652) Homepage Journal
          I think it's worth pointing out that Linux would also have drivers by now if they wouldn't keep up this religious crusade to get source only drivers. It's pretty annoying when you either have to download binaries that match your kernel version (good luck) or install all the kernel sources + dev tools + libraries, just so you can compile the drivers yourself. Vendors don't want to deal with this mess. It makes for massive support costs.
      • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Informative)

        by ameoba ( 173803 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:23PM (#8909973)
        I call bullshit. At work, I routinely have to install win2k on older machines, some of these drivers are damned near impossible to track down, even when you know the manufacturer of the device. ...and don't even get me started on older Sony Vaios; they've got all sorts of custom hardware and Sony doesn't bother writing drivers for any OS other than the one they shipped with.
    • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:41PM (#8909321)
      The point is, XP's got drivers for some of those historic cards. If it got a driver into Windows 95, it still works in Windows XP.

      Linux's driver history doesn't go back that far... so some hardware that works with Windows just will never work with Linux.
      • Not necessarily... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sterno ( 16320 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:11PM (#8909797) Homepage
        Actually, I can attest, from personal experience, that Linux has better support for legacy cards. I tried to put one of my old sound cards in my mother-in-law's computer. It was an Ensoniq soundscape from 1995. I managed to find some legacy drivers for it on Creative's website, but it just would not work under Windows 98. This card works flawlessly under Linux.

        Where Linux tends to have problems is with the latest bleeding edge cards that require some sort of funky drivers. Legacy cards are rarely a problem for it.
    • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by codemachine ( 245871 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:46PM (#8909411)

      - Some distros have the mixer volume at 0 by default.
      - Some distros suck at configuring sound even when it is supported by Linux drivers (Mandrake's biggest weakness IMHO).
      - Microsoft has enough clout to get every manufacturor to ship Windows sound drivers with their cards. Not really Linux's fault that they won't write drivers or open the specs.
      - The author's tone would not help him get any support from the regular channels (forums, IRC, tech support, etc). If nobody was very helpful to him, it was likely his own fault.

      So yeah, the article is both a Troll and very much an exaggeration of the real situation. And all this whining because one card doesn't work well under Linux (either not supported or takes some effort to get working). How much would a supported el-cheapo replacement cost I wonder?

      Of course researching supported cards and spending a whole $20 bucks wouldn't make nearly as good of a story as installing 9 distros and ranting about how much Linux sucks.
    • Re:WARNING! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:53PM (#8909529) Homepage Journal
      "What's with all the Troll articles lately?"

      A legitimate criticism of Linux is not a troll. When sound works great in Win95 but it's a pain in Linux, complaining about it isn't trolling. Frankly, I wish Linux users were more open to criticism. This attitude that Linux is fine the way it is really rubs me the wrong way, and it's what keeps me from adopting it. If the community is so hesitant to change, then why should I stay behind?
      • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ichimunki ( 194887 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:14PM (#8909831)
        Man, Toyota will never cut it as a car company. I went to put the engine from my '67 Ford in my '98 Corolla and none of the parts matched at all! The Linux community has been asking, wheedling, begging, and probably even bribing device makers into releasing drivers or even just specs to help developers write their own drivers. What more can the Linux community do? If this guy didn't check for compatibility before exepecting something to work, why should anyone feel sympathy for his plight? You know what, I tried installing Windows instead of Mac OS 8.5 on my iMac and it didn't work... but Linux has been running on that platform for several years.
      • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:51PM (#8910361) Homepage Journal
        A single unspecified sound card is nothing. The sample size is too small. I've never had a problem getting Linux to work with any sound card I've had, and I didn't pick them for Linux compatibility.

        Because the card is unspecified, the author also gives no means of allowing others to replicate or confirm his own testing. If it is specific to one model of hardware, there is no way to fix the problem in a broader sense.
    • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scoove ( 71173 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:57PM (#8909604)
      Some sound cards suck and are not supported by Linux

      Shouldn't a reliable OS support all cards and options, regardless of who makes them and how good or bad they are? A former PHB of mine made this observation to me once when we were battling a video card he had bought by the crate from Vietnam ($20 for supposedly super high graphic rendering capabilities).

      So after we encounter this junk SVGA card refusing to operate properly, the PHB (who didn't want to accept responsibility for having paid $10K for a big box of garbage) said "if that operating system was any good, it would anticipate unknown cards, you know, like probe it and figure it out, and make it work right. Your operating system is junk, not my cards."

      Of course, he was talking about Windows NT Workstation. And no, they crashed in 98 and 95 as well... even though the box sidepanel clearly said all those operating systems were supported.

      Course, there were at least a dozen misspelled words and typos - that should have been a clue too. And if that wasn't enough, the cards had wire jumpers snaked all over - apparently someone tried fixing a lot of known post-production problems (probably bought the boards from a legit manufacturer who was throwing them out as bad design, and tried to jumper around the problems). According to the PHB, the presence of these wires meant "they had great quality control because unlike the other cards, you can see they've fixed things." Oh, and when you called the international number listed for tech support, I would have sworn we reached a village phone someplace in rural Vietnam...

      So per the article writer's problem with soundcards, my suggestion is to send him to PHB re-education camp. I think they have those in Vietnam too. Now if he could just get that soundcard to work in his Mac/Sparcstation/etc...

    • Re:WARNING! (Score:5, Informative)

      by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:06PM (#8909739)
      And Linux just sucks at supporting some sound cards. I have an ASUS A7V8X motherboard with a VIA82xxx sound card. I can't get the bastard to work for love nor money.

      And it isn't for lack of trying either. I've tried several dists, I've patched the 2.4 kernel with ALSA, I've built the 2.6.5 kernel but NOTHING works. ALSA sees the card, but it is muted even if you run the mixer and unmute everything and stick on the max. Yes, I have the speakers plugged into the right connection and yes I'm certain I've double and triple checked everything. It still doesn't work. I'm not alone in this - the internet is filled with people in the same boat as me.

      At least 2.6.x comes with ALSA out of the box which is a blessing. But even so, if it takes major kernel surgery (and in my case it still doesn't work) there is something seriously screwed with the model.

      On Windows or OS X, at most you stick a disk into the machine or click an exe. That's assuming it doesn't just work automatically. On Linux you could waste a day applying patches and rebuilding to do the same.

      Linux really, really needs to sort out the whole driver issue because it throws a wet blanket over widespread adoption. Expecting people to rebuild kernels, or be in possession of a toolchain to build a module is unacceptable.

      A single unified ABI for drivers would be a good start. I can understand if Linus doesn't care to support such a thing, but I can't fathom why the dist vendors wouldn't.

    • Re:WARNING! (Score:4, Informative)

      by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:32PM (#8910113) Homepage Journal
      Actually, Linux does support his sound hardware. He got it working with every distro he tried, and then muted it, and decided that this was somehow a driver issue. In fact, it's because there are a ton of ways your audio can get muted in Linux, from rebooting without a script to save the volume or set it at boot to running a program that has its own ideas of what your volume controls should be (Konqueror, IIRC, mutes everything if you go to a page with sound; the flash plugin mutes everything when it starts, etc).

      Solution: get a volume control program for X, and leave it running at all times, thereby blocking other programs' attempts to control the volume.
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:36PM (#8909223)
    The ones that came configured with the sound volume set to 0 by default.
  • by SuperChuck69 ( 702300 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:36PM (#8909227)
    My watch says it's April 19th, not 1st.
  • Sound cards?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by CharAznable ( 702598 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:36PM (#8909230)
    I've had problems with video card, SCSI cards, RAID cards, Fibre Channel cards, PCI cow milking cards, but never, not once, have I had trouble getting a mainstream sound card to work under Linux.
  • by Rorschach1 ( 174480 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:36PM (#8909232) Homepage
    I did set one up once, but all I got out of that was knowing how some weird dude pronounces 'leenucks', whatever that is.
  • Is this true? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ianoo ( 711633 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:36PM (#8909237) Journal
    I've never had problems with my sound cards in recent years. I am not a big audio afficionado - a basic 2.1 speaker setup plugged in to the motherboard's onboard sound chip is all I need, so I don't really know. The extent of my experience is that the intel8x0 ALSA driver seems to work okay. Has anyone had bad experiences with modern cards and ALSA?
  • by creep ( 150035 ) <aarontbell@nosPam.gmail.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:37PM (#8909239)
    I have never had a problem getting sound working in Linux in the 10+ personal (and friends') machines I've installed it on, including an array of laptops and manufactured computers. Linux might have a weakness, but I doubt it is support for sound.
  • by Mrs. Grundy ( 680212 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:37PM (#8909249) Homepage
    Giving windows credit for working with sound cards gets thing rather backwards don't you think? Considering the MONOPOLY windows has, they don't need to to be compatible and work well with the sound cards. The sound cards need to make sure they work well with windows. Microsoft can do what ever they want and the world must switch it's practices and standards to suit it--which of course is the problem now isn't it.
  • ALSA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sn0wman3030 ( 618319 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:37PM (#8909250) Homepage Journal
    ALSA supports most mainstream soundcards, and (as I'm sure most of you are aware of) it's integrated into the kernel as of 2.6. Linux's sound support is getting much better than where it used to be (OSS). It would really help if the card manufacturers would help us out though (ie. It would be nice if Creative handed us an opensource EAX). Microsoft has it easy because the manufacturers produce Windows drivers with each sound card.
  • Notice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:37PM (#8909252)
    He didn't reveal what sound card he was actually working with?
    • Re:Notice... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:00PM (#8909648)
      His actual testing environment was a virtual machine setup programmed to emulate a "a plain-vanilla SoundBlaster card".

      Hello... that's the worldwide standard for plain sound cards, one that for years many vendors other than Creative followed. Even if you don't have the right drivers for a card, most sound cards will gladly accept the plain SoundBlaster driver and deliver the basic features in return.

      To flunk that test is a little embarassing, especially when you have to go back to Windows 3.1 to find an MS operating system that fails to figure out what to do with a funky sound card. In short... Linux distros should try to install a generic SoundBlaster sound driver if it can't autodetect the sound card.
      • Re:Notice... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by forgotmypassword ( 602349 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:30PM (#8910795)
        It's almost as bad as when you attempt to put a vanilla Hayes modem or tulip NIC in a Windows box.

        Sound Cards stopped being SB compatible when games stopped being written for DOS. I doubt any current sound card would accept an SB driver (or Roland or Adlib for that matter), especially seeing as many variations of the SB aren't really compatible in that manner. But I am interested in being proven wrong.
      • by gotih ( 167327 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @09:38PM (#8912096) Homepage
        my first tech job (1996) was fixing windows computers with problems, most dealing with the soundcard.

        i spent HUNDREDS of hours searching for drivers and changing default settings trying to get soundcards (from turtle beach to via to sound blaster compatible...) working in windows 95. as another poster said, it's not because of windows that these worked (or didn't work) it's because the drivers were well designed (or sucked ass).

        it's the manufacturers fault for not providing linux drivers. but we have to remedy the situation by picking up their slack.

        that said, i've configured around 8 computers with linux. i never checked the HCL first. and i got the sound to work (even on board sound) to work every time. maybe i'm just lucky but it seems that if you know what you are doing you'll get it to work. i didn't say it's easy.
  • Oh my god! (Score:3, Funny)

    by smartin ( 942 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:38PM (#8909255)
    Say it isn't so, Linux doesn't support his on board sound chip set. We're fucked now!

    On the other hand, one usually looks into these sort of things before one purchases one's hardware.
    • Re:Oh my god! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AbbyNormal ( 216235 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:01PM (#8909668) Homepage
      One shouldn't have to should they?

      I personally have never had any problems with sound, but at the same time I amused by all of these comments. Pick one: "He's either dumb" or "He should have checked into before installing linux".

      Granted as somebody posted, he did not list his video card, but that does not mean he did not discover some previously unknown bug.
  • Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by robochan ( 706488 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:38PM (#8909257) Homepage
    Considering that every MS Windows install I've ever done (Win 3.1-Win2k, I haven't installed XP) I've had to use external party drivers - either having to have driver floppy(s)/cd or had to go to the manfacturer's website before I had any sound. Even for Soundblasters and SB clones, PCI or ISA, it was always that way.

    The article's tripe.
  • Appearently... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cytlid ( 95255 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:38PM (#8909262)
    ...this guy's never had an irq conflict where his sound card wants to use the only irq that his isa nic card requires.

    We all remember the Win98 Scanner incident, don't we? That was televised...

    Give this guy enough blue screens and he'll be begging for penguin.
  • by ajiva ( 156759 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:38PM (#8909266)
    So I gotta agree with this guy, Linux does have its share of problems, but its not because Linux is deficient in anyway, its just that there is a different mentality about Linux than Windows. Lets take his sound card example, the manufacturer of the sound card had two choices, support Linux and spend money on potentially smaller market, or save that money and focus entirely on Windows. The company probably hoped that some Linux driver coder would just whip up a driver and save them the hassle. That's the wrong mentality, and until companies see Linux as a financial win, these sorts of problems will exist.

    Sigh, I can relate with this guy, I've tried and tried but my DLINK DWL-520 rev e PCI wireless card still doesn't work under Linux.
  • by untermensch ( 227534 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:38PM (#8909267)
    Bottom line: For broad hardware support, Windows is still much better than Linux. That's not bias--it's a demonstrable fact.

    Even if we assume for the moment that this guy's sound card problems were, in fact Linux's fault and not the fault of the sound card vendor or himself, this is still a completely false statement.

    Linux may indeed be behind Windows in supporting some of the latest and greatest hardware, particularly those where the vendor doesn't open the specs or provide linux binary drivers, but Windows only supports one architecture.

    That fact alone means Linux supports a much broader hardware base than Windows.

    Also, I notice that he doesn't mention what sound card he's using, I have to wonder why.
    • by drteknikal ( 67280 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:51PM (#8909505) Homepage
      You should trot out the bullshit detector before posting something like this.

      Yes, Linux has a broader potential hardware base than Windows because it runs on multiple platforms. However, Windows has much broader actual driver support on its platform.

      Don't compare what is supportable with what's supported as if they were the same thing. They're not.

      Does Linux have drivers for things that Windows doesn't? Of course! Are there more devices supported under Linux than Windows? Depends on what you mean by supported. Are there more drivers availble for Windows than Linux? Sadly so!

      What should have been pointed out was that he's using brand new OEM integrated hardware. In a Windows architecture, that means they need Windows drivers before they can ship, and creating the drivers is the manufacturer's responsibility. With Linux, they likely don't plan on releasing drivers, and certainly wouldn't hold up the release because they'd see it as someone else's responsiblity anyway.

      If he were to use Microsoft's standard arguments, he should be blaming the vendor for releasing unsupported hardware, rather than Linux for not supporting everything under the sun. Until the major hardware manufacturers support Linux at the same development level as Windows, this will continue to be a problem.

      I'll bet OS/2 didn't have a driver for his sound card, either.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:38PM (#8909270)
    Fred Langa's main claim to fame was as one of the key personalities in CMP's now-defunct Windows Magazine. Therefore, he's much more familiar with Windows than Linux. Let's face it, he's paid to be a pundit that writes stories that sell magazines.

    Although, this doesn't exactly invalidate his point. Microsoft's got a deep driver library database included in Windows XP... containing many cards that there is no known Linux drivers for.
  • Critical! (Score:5, Funny)

    by blunte ( 183182 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:39PM (#8909272)
    I know that where I work, having a sound card is critical to operation of the company.

    I cannot imagine how someone can function without hearing that Ding! each time a new email arrives. I'd be lost, ever wondering, "do I have another Symantec AV warning about an attempted incoming virus message?"

    Linux is doomed if it can't even Ding! when email arrives.
  • by prell ( 584580 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:39PM (#8909277) Homepage
    Sound is important on Windows machines because how else are you supposed to know that IIS has gone down or become infected with a virus for the third time this week, than with a lot of "dinging" noises, while you're huddled under your desk?
  • by azav ( 469988 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:39PM (#8909279) Homepage Journal
    And that Apple plugged in the 1980's

    Oh, wait. On the Mac sound is built in. You don't need a sound card.

    Well, geez.

  • Yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ryanr ( 30917 ) * <ryan@thievco.com> on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:40PM (#8909304) Homepage Journal
    Sound (and USB) support on Linux can be a pain. He doesn't give any specifics as to what sound hardware, kernel versions, etc... so there's no hope in trying to second guess what he did wrong. I'm inclined to guess that after he got ALSA working the first time, after reboot he probably just needed to crank the volume back up, or forgot some insmod lines (both easy to do.)

    I've fought the software to get sound working on linux, and got there without too much trouble most of the time.

    It goes both ways. I spent a fair amount of time trying to fight Windows ME on a relative's machine to trying to get sound working reliably. I had to give up and take him to XP, where they seem to finally have interrupts sorted out properly.
  • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:42PM (#8909331)
    I also recently discovered that RedHat 9 does not recognize the external 5.25" drive that my C64 so easily manages without a hitch.

    Do you think Linux will support my Adam tape drive? I better go check...

  • This is crap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:49PM (#8909460)
    Linux has it's flaws, but harping on the hardware compatibility thing is old, tired talk at this point. In my personal experience, an up-to-date Linux distro ISO usually does a much better job autodetecting recent hardware than an out-of-date version of Windows, and generally has more drivers for two or three generations back hardware, too. Trying to get Windows 98 to work on a modern motherboard, sound card, etc. (I needed it for backwards compatibility testing of an application I was working on) took a full day of work finding old drivers buried on random websites and the like. MEPIS works out of the box, Mandrake requires a bit of screwing around to get the NVIDIA drivers to work. Both were much easier to get working than Windows 98, and in the case of MEPIS, substantially easier than Win2k or WinXP on the exact same hardware.

    And your sound card that worked fine with Windows 95 may not work at all with Windows XP either. Such are the breaks - if it's not made or supported anymore, that's not Linux's fault. Usually Linux is substantially better about supporting several generations back hardware out of the box than Windows is.

  • FUD anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @05:58PM (#8909610) Homepage
    Ok, so we have one guy who couldn't get one un-named sound card to work under Linux. All we know is it's "An utterly mainstream Intel Motherboard". Uhh, yah, thanks for the details so someone can replicate your findings, Fred.

    The fact that there's onboard sound, or a soundcard that isn't supported by Linux just isn't too surprising. Why this gets posted as "news", or as "Linux's achilles heal" is beyond me. Is 'ol Fred going to buy a soundcard for his Mac, and then pronounce that lack of support for every soundcard to be the bain of the Macintosh?

    I'm actually surprised sound support for Linux is as good as it is. The sound on my laptop worked out of the box when I installed RH9 on it, a first for me! There's also sound support for my N-Force motherboard. Sound support is actually something that's matured quite a bit in the last few years.

    I won't say Linux is perfect. There's plenty of things to complain about as far as Linux desktop usage is concerned. My personal complaint is the fact that copy/paste support is still kind of crappy. I can copy/paste between emacs sessions (as long as they remain open), but I can't copy/paste from emacs to somewhere else. That's just pathetic. Windows has supported universal copy/paste since 3.1
  • by Brian Kendig ( 1959 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:00PM (#8909642) Homepage
    There's some truth to the article. ALSA still requires running a configuration program to get it to work with even major sound cards (and when the autoconfig doesn't work, it still requires tweaking IRQ's, yuck). And when I try to set up my sound card through KDE, KDE still insists on using the 'snd_' prefixes to the ALSA module settings, which ALSA stopped using quite a while back. And there are also lots of apps which use OSS instead of ALSA.

    Windows 95 succeeds in other areas where Linux fails, too. One minor one is that Windows 95 boots with a pretty graphic splash screen while Linux spews ugly status messages too quickly to even read; what's the point of that? (There's a bootsplash patch for the Linux kernel, but it hasn't been updated for 2.6.5 yet, and it requires the ability to patch and reconfigure a kernel.)

    But I'd say the biggest place where Win95 beats Linux is this: I could run Win95 quite comfortably on a PC with 8MB RAM and it would give me a somewhat friendly UI and a consistent interface across applications, with buttons and menus that would all look and work similarly. On Linux today I have two choices: use a desktop environment like KDE which requires more than 128MB RAM to run comfortably, or else use a bare-bones window manager like fvwm2 or icewm and put up with the fact that every app's buttons and menus are going to look completely different (xterm still has that weird scrollbar that requires a three-button mouse!).

    Linux has every other operating system beat in terms of stability and robustness. But even Windows 95 still beats its pants off in terms of friendliness and usability in a desktop environment.
  • The clincher.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:12PM (#8909809) Homepage Journal

    I know a lot people here on /. plug Linux as the best thing short of the Second Coming...

    But... The real issue is that most people don't install their own operating systems. They take what comes on their PC from the factory, and that's it.

    That said, the only way in which Linux is going to gain significant ground on the desktop is if:

    1. Using Linux enables people to do something they want to do, but can't do in Windows, and:
    2. Installing Linux is as easy and foolproof as installing the average Windows Application*, and:
    3. Linux is simpler than Windows. People can't figure out what is wrong with MS systems simply because they are so complicated and arcane. And Linux is even more complicated.

    Linux's big hurdle for the desktop is that for most people, Windows is Good Enough(TM). Any difficulties installing Windows are simply irrelevant because the average user never installs their own OS - when it crashes, they take it back to the store.

    For Linux to succeed on the desktop, hardware detection and driver installation is going to have to be completely automatic. A distro which can't autodetect the video card or sound card would do better to inform the user that their hardware is unsupported than ask them to select their hardware from a seemingly endless list of meaningless names.

    Linux developers are going to have to stop following Microsoft's lead and start really innovating.

    * - yes, I know that many windows apps mangle the system. Let's just ignore this and pretend that they work as advertised for the sake of argument, shall we?

  • by JWhitlock ( 201845 ) <John-Whitlock.ieee@org> on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:12PM (#8909813)

    He tried it with several distros: Xandros 2.0 Deluxe, two versions of Slackware, two versions of SuSE, Debian, Lindows, Knoppix, Knotix, Morphix, and Gentoo.

    "one of the Linux distributions I tried specifically claimed compatibility with the sound system in question"

    He didn't like the advice of "get rid of the brand-new, fully functional sound card and install a card from a few years ago, and Linux would work just fine".

    The Achilles Heel is "For broad hardware support, Windows is still much better than Linux." It's not "My sucky OEM sound card didn't work."

    Yeah, it sucks that he didn't mention the card. It sucks that he didn't try distro X, and that Knoppix couldn't detect it. It sucks that the forums didn't help. It sucks that he didn't try a half-a-dozen things. But, the fact is, a good amount of hardware that works out of the box with Windows won't work with Linux. Every user that trys and gets a bad experience will hold the opinion "Linux Sucks" until they are proved otherwise, years later perhaps.

  • He's right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chrimble ( 7748 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:31PM (#8910103) Homepage
    I've been a Linux user, pretty much continuously, since 1993. I use it constantly, and have become deeply familiar with Gnome/KDE environments since both were < V1.0. (prior to those I was an fvwm guy, although I'll always hold a soft spot for twm).

    As a server OS, Linux is great. But I'm flabbergasted (hey, this is /., where the ignorant roam free) by the ostritch-like, "there ain't no problem here" posts that seem to have mushroomed as per usual.

    They are all wrong.

    Sound under linux sucks. Big time. It always has.

    If it's not drivers, it's sound daemons. Yes, it's possible to get everything working just fine providing you don't want to use more than one. Mandrake linux is the only distro that works sensibly with sound. And believe you me, I've pretty much tried them all.

    So it's piss poor. But as linux is primarily a server OS, what more can we realistically expect? Sound is utterly unnecessary in this capacity, for the most part.

    The best unix desktop by a country marathon is Mac OS X. By some considerable margin. Anyone denying this simple fact is kidding themselves. Really.
  • by EraseEraseMe ( 167638 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:34PM (#8910137)
    A lot of posts seem to say "Well, it's not LINUX's fault that the manufacturers don't have drivers for his sound card (Whichever sound card it is, it's probably an M$ sound card, he used to work for Windows magazine *insert nerdy snort here*).

    Well, right there in the article it says it DID work on SOME Linux distros. Why would it work on one and not all? Why isn't there a centralized LINUX device driver database that every distribution uses in it's install? Why should we depend on HW manufacturers to write umpteen odd versions of their drivrs for umpteen odd flavors of Linux? One centralized repository, one way to handle devices and drivers. If someone doesn't want to use this DB, they are welcome to try a DriverDB-less distro.
  • by agwis ( 690872 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @06:40PM (#8910212)
    Funny thing the timing of this article. I've been using Linux for quite awhile on my servers and love it. I don't install gui's on them and do everything from the CLI. On my desktop I've been using XP, and as much as I don't want to, I love it as well. I went to the Real World Linux conference in Toronto last week and talked to some of the Xandros guys, and decided I'd dual boot my XP box in the hopes that I could eventually replace XP with a good Linux Desktop.

    The install was incredibly easy, and it handled partitioning my HD and installing the MBR with minimal input on my part. That part blew me away, it was easier than installing Windows (any version).

    Unfortunately, I had no sound and my printer wouldn't work. I have a Sound Blaster audigy2 card and a Canon I320 printer...both very common and both work flawlessly on XP. After messing around for a couple of hours I got them both to work.

    I also use 2 monitors on this box and have a 128M Nvidia GeForce video card. The install handled my video card without any user input and set a decent default screen resolution. Unfortunately again, it would not support the dual monitors. After googling for awhile I discovered Xinerama and reconfigured my XF86Config-4 file to support the dual monitors...which now work as well.

    I discussed this with a friend who also wants to see huge adoption of Linux on the desktop. I explained that as much as I was impressed with Xandros it still is IMO not ready for your average computer user. We agreed to disagree on this point, but until you can install a Linux distro without having to drop to the command line to get things working, it's going to be a hard sell to Joe Q Public.

    Now I realize that my setup may be a little out of the ordinary compared to regular users and they may not experience any of the problems that I did but the point is this all works out of the box on Windows. I prefer the command line and didn't have that much trouble getting everything working that I wanted too, but you can't expect the average user to put up with it...not when it just works with Windows.

    We've still got aways to go but we're definitely getting there.

  • by LDorman ( 543715 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:13PM (#8910612)
    There are two things that really bother me that make me believe this person flat out fabricated their testing:

    1) The system is a brand new, state of the art, Intel system. Windows 95 wouldn't recognize half of the components on the system. It wouldn't recognize the USB, it wouldn't recognize the chipsets, it wouldn't recognize the video, etc.

    To get all of this to work, he would have to download drivers from Intel - assuming they're even available (unlikely). If he did download drivers, then that probably included the sound driver - game over.

    2) It is inferred that the sound card is very recent technology. That being the case, Microsoft must have been exceedingly good to create drivers 9 years in advance!

    It's also worth recognizing that Intel is notorious for making hardware that is dependent on specific Windows functions. We all owe Intel a big thanks for the wonderful WinModem.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @07:25PM (#8910741)
    Before I get started: I like Linux. I use it everyday. I like it even more because it makes Microsoft look over their shoulder.

    That said, sound support in linux sucks....but it's not always "Linux's fault". My 5 year old IBM 600E Thinkpad has an unsupported sound card. I DO NOT have the option of "getting a sound card that doesn't suck" as some have suggested.

    I use the laptop with Linux, but every time I realize that my sound card doesn't work it makes me shake my head and think: "Maybe Microsoft will have something to worry about in 5 years....."

    While i'm ranting...how about better wireless network card support? I've got a bunch of spiffy new 802.11 A/B/G cards and none of them work in Linux. I have to resort to my 3 year old Cisco 350 series card to connect on my laptop.

    Here's a better illustration of the problem:

    Go to compUSA and try to find a scanner that DOESN'T work in windows. You probably won't be able to find one.

  • by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @10:19PM (#8912487) Homepage Journal

    From Fred Langa's article:

    I couldn't get XYZ to work with my sound card at all, even though I was testing XYZ on a brand new PC from a major vendor. The system was based on an utterly mainstream Intel motherboard with an on-board Intel sound system. This isn't some weird, off-brand system using unknown components: It's about as mainstream as it gets.

    Wrong. No onboard sound chips are standard, and some are as impossible to work with as "winmodems", possibly for the same reason. Their configuration details are often proprietary secrets, and I expect that at least some of them are doing nasty background stuff with the CPU.

    Linux does work with any Sound-Blaster compatible sound card.

    How do I know these things?

    I volunteer as a Build Instructor at a computer recycler (Free Geek, in Portland, OR). I assist newbies in learning the fine art of skimming the garbage flows for re-useable components, putting those together to make working PCs, and installing a variant of Debian on top of it all. Some of the results go to non-profit organizations but many go to the volunteers as reward for their services. Donate 24 hours to busting up recycled computers into steel, aluminum, and plastic bins and you get to take a Freekbox home (233 MHz, 96 MB ram, 4.5 GB HD, 15" monitor, speakers, CD player: all stuff that isn't going to the dump).

    I have sometimes been able to get on board Crystal sound chips to work under Linux, though usually it means fussing with configuration settings. I have never been able to get a Yamaha sound chip to work and I have never heard of anyone who has. When we can't get the onboard sound to work, we disable it in BIOS and drop in a 16 bit sound card. We sell used ones that work just fine from our store for $2.00 for anyone who is doing this at home.

    Fred Langa needs to look at appropriate technology resources when he ventures from the world of marketdroids into things Linux.

  • by LibrePensador ( 668335 ) on Monday April 19, 2004 @10:25PM (#8912537) Journal
    What he didn't reveal clearly enough is that the damn card does NOT work in Windows 95 or 98 as he claims it does. It only does so through a virtual machine that provides an emulated hardware layer.

    His point is thus moot and shown for what it really is: FUD. Big, stinking, FUD of the worst kind.

    Couple this with the fact that he does not give out the chipset model of the built-in sound card and I do not believe a word he wrote and neither should you.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken