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LinuxWorld Response to 'How to Kill Linux' 511

aneroid writes "In response to John Dvorak's "How to Kill Linux" column, LinuxWorld has a riposte to the columnist's assertations. From the article: "Because most of the time, with mainstream devices, I work out of the box. For the "savvy user" and OEM builder, the Linux driver "problem" isn't the problem it was. The days when my poor user had to sweat blood to get me onto a laptop are long gone. Sure, if I get slung onto some random old machine there are still wrinkles, but from what I see on the Windows support forums, that's hardly unique." <update> The story is actually from GrokLaw originally - credit where credit is due.
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LinuxWorld Response to 'How to Kill Linux'

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  • Re:Double-take... (Score:3, Informative)

    by agraupe ( 769778 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @05:58PM (#11796729) Journal
    I believe he is saying that Windows has driver problems as well, so Linux shouldn't be thought less of because of the occasional problem.
  • by agraupe ( 769778 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:01PM (#11796761) Journal
    I dunno... I'm a linux supporter, but I can honestly say that I've had linux act like this at times. Sometimes audio on flash movies will play, sometimes it won't. It usually requires only a reboot, but it still shouldn't need to. But it's significantly less of a problem than corrupted IDE drivers, especially considering it could (and probably is) the flash player's fault.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:03PM (#11796779) Homepage Journal
    This is the man that a year ago predicted that in 6 months, not only would OS X run on x86, Apple would produce a dual PPC/x86 computer to help ease the transistion. He wasn't even remotely right on either of these.
    IE he gets paid a decent amount of money to talk out of his ass, and it's not really even worth thinking about a response to the drivel that spews from his (mouth/pen/keyboard?)
  • by Mark19960 ( 539856 ) <Mark AT lowcountrybilling DOT com> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:04PM (#11796793) Homepage Journal
    here is a link [] to the groklaw story
  • Personal experience (Score:2, Informative)

    by ilyagordon ( 822695 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:05PM (#11796801)
    This is nonsense. A friend of mine with a relatively new Dell machine wanted to install Linux. Fedora Core 3 did not recognize their mass-produced Dell-standard soundcard. Mandrake would not run without crashing every several minutes for absolutely no reason. Now, you may say that my suggestions for distributions may not have been very well researched, but these are two of the most popular personal desktop Linux distributions, and neither worked properly after a fresh installation. That's at least one family that is going to stick with Windows XP because Linux is just simply "not there yet".
  • Re:Double-take... (Score:3, Informative)

    by agraupe ( 769778 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:19PM (#11796949) Journal
    I've not had a single driver problem on Linux, and I have installed it on three off-the-shelf (i.e. hardware not checked for compatibility) computers, as well as run Knoppix on many computers at school, all without a single problem.
  • Those days are long gone , my primary x86 laptop( Gericom , not well known outside germany ) runs debian unstable, after a quick ftp install all i have to do is type "apt-get install acpid" it really couldnt be easier , well infact it could and can be.
    Simply use suse 9.2 , it fully recognised my laptop and configured it perfectly .
    also iirc it has predefined configs for hundreds of laptops
  • Wireless on Windows? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ca1v1n ( 135902 ) <snook@guanotro[ ].com ['nic' in gap]> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:21PM (#11796963)
    Has anyone tried making wireless work on *Windows* lately? Sometimes it works out of the box. Usually, on the same machine even, with high-quality hardware and complete driver support, it fails inexplicably, or worse, the error message report conditions inconsistent with observed behavior. Wireless on Linux may be a pain, but at least it's deterministic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:22PM (#11796969)
    Debian is not exactly a distro reknowned for its friendliness - Mandrake might have been a better choice as a first distro, IMHO...

    Debian, however, is amazing if you're adminning 200+ machines for demanding scientific/engineering users. Nothing comes close to the attention to detail of the package system because debian treats even slight upgrade issues as bugs. Almost everything users ask for is already in main or contrib.

  • by rxmd ( 205533 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:22PM (#11796970) Homepage
    Sure, if I get slung onto some random old machine there are still wrinkles, but from what I see on the Windows support forums, that's hardly unique.
    My experience is exactly the other way round. With older hardware, the chance that it's still supported under Linux is much better than under recent Windows versions. With new hardware, problems have been much more frequent. There's a reason why people choose Linux instead of Windows for older boxen.

    With newer hardware, I think there's a future for driver wrapper projects. Look at FreeBSD's NDIS driver wrapper (aka "Project Evil"): that way, FreeBSD can use Windows network card drivers out of the box, it's convenient, and it's even reasonably fast.
  • by SendBot ( 29932 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:33PM (#11797067) Homepage Journal
    From my own experience, I can attest to two separate windows driver nightmare situations.

    The first is more of an annoyance than a nightmare. The place where I work has been buying new dell machines of various models. A fresh installation from the Windows SP2 cd it comes with does not have any drivers for the intel based network, video, and a couple other misc devices. I think the sound chipset is something else, and it doesn't support that either.

    Fortunately, dell packs a separate cd with drivers on it, and it refuses to run on non dell machines if you have the same hardware and are stuck in that situation. Plus, if you dig hard enough you can probably find drivers on the internet.

    I'd like to point out that in this situation, the mega trio of Dell, Intel, and Microsoft cannot provide a system that installs an OS off the cd and has working video/sound/network. Pretty lame.

    The second situation involves a coworker's recent purchase of a sony vaio that is rife with severe annoyances. For instance, if you uninstall norton internet security before it expires and nags you to death, your entire network subsystem eats shit and refuses to do anything. That was fun.

    But more relevant to this topic, windows has practically no builtin driver support for it, and it doesn't even come with any drivers on cd! They expect you to make a 10 cd backup (or 2 dvd's and one cd) so that you can restore your system if necessary. If you ask sony support for drivers, they direct you to purchase a cd (set?) that may solve the issue for $12. Absolutely no option to download drivers.

    I'm not entirely sure, but I think the sound won't even work properly unless you have some magic sony-blessed drm drivers.

    In both of these cases, knoppix and gentoo boot fine and support all of the devices (except maybe the vaio's wireless.. I didn't try).

    ps. don't buy sony laptops, they are crippled with drm services and shitware.
  • L vs. W (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:40PM (#11797131)
    I think they're both at the point that people prefer them for a specific philosophy more than one being 'better' than another. I think if you really got down to it and pushed, each side would have to admit that the other side got some things right.

    The thing is that in a few years, the technology is going to be to the point that both systems can do everything that the other system can.

    I manage 300 + Windows 2003 servers, and I don't have any crashing issues at all unless hardware actually fails. So the BSOD thing doesn't hold any water anymore because current Windows operating systems are fairly stable. The downside is you have to reboot for patches and stuff - which is something I think Linux should promote as a big upside that I don't see much. I care more about that than I do about the BSOD arguments for Windows 98.

    I think at this point one of the only real things I see as a drawback for Linux is that in a lot of ways it isn't one operating system. When I do get an error on something, I can't usually put in 'Linux' and the error (like I can with Windows) - because each specific build is like its own operating system. The setup of SuSE, Debian, Gentoo, etc is different enough that they're almost different operating systems from a support standpoint.

    I also think that Novell has realized that a big thing that Windows has going for it is you can go to one vendor and get a complete enterprise system that works, is supported, has a directory management system, email, etc. They're on their way to making that a reality.

    In short - they both have benefits, but I think THE benefit that I see is that as long as they both provide competition, it benefits the end user. I think most of us don't WANT to see either Linux or Windows dominate, because it would slow advancement - or at least to have 2+ systems as serious contenders (can Apple get there?).

    So many arguments you could make, but it is all relative. Maybe Einstein had something there ;)
  • by Jussi K. Kojootti ( 646145 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:58PM (#11797316)
    This sounded so wierd that I had to google for it, and no shit:
    John C. Dvorak:

    "IDLE-TIME PROCESS. Once in a while the system will go into an idle mode, requiring from five minutes to half an hour to unwind. It's weird, and I almost always have to reboot. When I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete, I see that the System Idle Process is hogging all the resources and chewing up 95 percent of the processor's cycles. Doing what? Doing nothing? Once in a while, after you've clicked all over the screen trying to get the system to do something other than idle, all your clicks suddenly ignite and the screen goes crazy with activity. This is not right." (link [])
    The dreaded resource-hogging Idle process... I hope my computer never catches that.
  • Re:Double-take... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ( 653730 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @07:04PM (#11797372)
    Hypertreading is NOT SMP.
  • Re:Double-take... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @07:17PM (#11797508)
    Actually, yes it is. You need an SMP capable kernel in order to be able to take advantage of a hyperthreaded CPU. Otherwise the OS can only take advantage of one logical CPU. Windows cannot tell the difference. In fact, extra code had to be added to Windows for it to differentiate logical CPUs from regular physical CPUs for the purposes of licensing.

    Requirements for the Windows logo on hardware drivers has always been full support for an SMP environment. If the hardware product is listed in the HCL, or Windows Catalog, then it has been tested and will function just fine in such environments.

    I've run a dual P3 machine now for five years with various incarnations of Windows. Four years ago I would have agreed that the major manufacturers were ignorant of testing SMP, and most didn't care about the Windows logo requirements. Then Windows XP came out and when a driver caused a problem Microsoft was, optionally, alerted of this. Armed with very specific failure information, Microsoft was able to smack the vendors into line. Vendors like nVidia and Creative Labs had reason to mature their drivers. The result is that I haven't seen a BSOD since early 2002, and all of my hardware, including that which is five years old and that which is one month old, even on Windows 2003.
  • by Mantus ( 65568 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @07:28PM (#11797585)
    My experience is that with homemade computers getting stuff to work on either Windows or Linux is very easy (just buy stuff that has support). But i have spent entirely too much time navigating and trying to find windows drivers. Linux has nice utilities like lspci to find what hardware you have, more often than not if Windows can't find a driver for a device you have to crack the case open to see what it is, device manager often just gives useless info like unsupported network device.
    I also like how linux supports chipsets rather than brands.
    Now linux on laptops is another story, mostly because ACPI doesn't work all the well in my experience.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @07:31PM (#11797598)
  • by Canadian_Daemon ( 642176 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @07:47PM (#11797741)
    So, basically ALL the benefits of having a laptop. Go linux! It's DEFINITELY ready for the mainstream
    I am typing this from a laptop, and it runs Linux (Oh No!). Has APCI, CPU Throttling, Suspend, Wireless networking, etcetera.
    How did I do it? Days of patches? No, popped in Mandrake 10.1 Community, generic install, everything ran perfectly, I don't think that you need to be a zealot to install linux on a laptop, Linux has come a long way in the last few years.
  • Re:Yes and No (Score:3, Informative)

    by Richard_J_N ( 631241 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @07:49PM (#11797757)
    Also, have you tried out TiMidity ? It does all the MIDI playback that you could want.
  • by Sweetshark ( 696449 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:01PM (#11797840)
    I've avoided the 2.6 kernel and use 2.4 because make menuconfig (yes, there's a plain text file too) because its too bloody confusing.
    I find the 2.6 menuconfig alot better than the one for 2.4. Maybe you are just used to the 2.4 way?
    Whatever has been done with makes X a lot faster now.
    Might be Xdamage and friends.
    I think binary, closed source drivers should be allowed into the main kernel.
    Will not happen (impossible license-wise).
    Maybe it would make installing the ATI drivers and Nvidia drivers easier for the rest of us.
    At least nvidia-drivers are not harder to install than on windows. If there are problems, they are not linux problems, but problems of the distro. ATI drivers are another issue, but even there being "allowed into the main kernel" wouldnt help (because devs still couldnt debug it).
    And I always get some RTFA jerk (there's plenty of nice people though). Perhaps, I've read as much as I can understand and can't use the same technical jargon.
    Sometimes the questions that someone asks without understanding of some concepts are completely absurd. Better ask on a friendly IRC channel, where people can clarify what you are after faster. I dont think this is worse than on windows. Actually help resources (IRC, forums, mailinglists) are a lot better for linux than for Windows. As is the commercial support that you can buy (for example Ubuntu 1 yr for the prize of a Windows OEM).
    I think what is killing Linux is the frequent changes to the way things are done (kernel, X)
    No, not doing this kills everybody else (to much backwards compability is a burden. There are emulators for that.)
    and a high threshold of learning which makes it too hard to convert to.
    That wont kill linux. It will only slow down adoption (but it wont affect the existing userbase).
    I'm comfortable enough using Slackware, but there is still a lot to be done before I replace Windows with Linux.
    Almost nobody wants people to get completely rid of windows (quote Linus: "... that will be a completely unintentional side effect"). For most people it would be enough, if there isnt an implicit expectation that every desktop machine runs also a copy of windows.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:21PM (#11797988)
    Some people claim that Linux sucks.

    Some people claim that Linux is great.

    But I don't see much in the way of SPECIFICS.

    Here are some. I can boot Knoppix 3.6 on the following laptops and have EVERYTHING work without additional tweeking.

    IBM T23
    IBM T40

    Anyone who claims that Linux has problems on laptops needs to post
    WHAT problems
    WHICH laptops
    WHICH distribution

    I've provided two complete examples. I doubt the Linux-haters will be able to provide any themselves.
  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:22PM (#11797995) Homepage
    I don't have a DVD player; I want one to watch movies on my laptop.

    The wireless card is a USR 5410. It "sees" it as a TI based card, and it will even see my home network when I do an "iwconfig", but it will not connect.

  • by mpeg4codec ( 581587 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @09:26PM (#11798437) Homepage
    Here's a link to the whole story [].

    It's worth the read for more than just the ``idle process hog.'' He really gets going. Goodness, I wonder exactly when it was that hitting Ctrl+Alt+Del twice wouldn't reboot one's machine immediately. IT MUST BE SOME CONSPIRACY!

    However, the last quote gets the ironic gold award for the millenium:

    And please, will the characters who "have never had a crash or blip" in 10 years of "heavy use" not contribute. I'm sick of these people. They're full of it.
  • Can't say I know the Fedora distro (since rh9, switched) SuSE 9.2 will pick up all the hardware on a t40p -- typing this reply on one right now. Picked up the wireless and video card as part of the install. The only 'setting' change was using the GUI to tell it to go 1400x1050 over the default pick.

    Try the 9.2 live eval, and see how it does. ownloads/ftp/live_eval_int.html The FTP install is free, and media

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday February 28, 2005 @12:34AM (#11799915)
    A friend of mine with a relatively new Dell machine wanted to install Linux. Fedora Core 3 did not recognize their mass-produced Dell-standard soundcard.
    The problem is you have to work out what hardware is inside the Dell cheapest bits of the week box - because there will be difference between it and other Dells produced at other dates. Dell have gone to the trouble to find all the drivers and install it for you, since XP cannot be expected to identify hardware produced after it was written, and may need help to install the drivers for other things. Fedora was written more recently, but may need some help to install the correct drivers. The basic thing with any operating system is to know what your hardware is, and while most of us just try an install and see if it works, that is not the right way to go about things. We cannot say that any operating system is "not there yet" if we don't tell it what it has to do during installation - we should do the installation properly before we complain. Just trying another distro is not the way to solve the problem - know what you want it to do (eg. finding out what the sound card is) is the way to solve the problem.

    It's not really all that complicated, so just seeing if things work is not the way to go about it. If there was only one type of Dell machine it would make it very easy to write the installation software for XP or linux - but you never know exactly what Dell has put in their boxes this week until you go to the trouble of reading the paperwork or looking inside the box.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.