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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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  • And even better... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZiZ ( 564727 ) * on Sunday February 27, 2005 @05:57PM (#11796723) Homepage
    Linux doesn't do things for no reason. If something changed, it's because YOU changed it, not because Windows suddenly decided that, on this hour's autodetection, it would corrupt your IDE drivers.
  • 100% Correct (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nukem996 ( 624036 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:07PM (#11796828)
    Driver support on Linux is fine. I have always bought bleeding edge hardware I only run Linux and everything works fine. The last time I had a problem was when I bought my IBM Thinkpad T40, only the wireless card wasnt support, which wasnt even a problem for me since I didnt have a wireless router. It is now fully supported by an open source driver(ipw2100). I fix computers as a part time job and I run into driver hell more often on win then any other os. The other day I was updating a win xp computer and it said the ATI drivers had to be updated, so I let windows update update them. A few min later I could only get 4bit color. I had to uninstall the driver from windows update and revert to the old one. Going to and downloading the offical driver said that I was getting a driver for the wrong graphics card. Even if a peice of hardware is reconized on win you have to track down the driver and many times if you lost the cd your screwed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:10PM (#11796868)
    Sorry, but the Linux driver issue is real - not because the drivers are nonexistent, but because they are (1) often poorly maintained and (2) not supported by major distributions.

    I have finally gotten my wireless card - which was a DLink one purchased at Best Buy, not an obscure brand - to work on Mandrake a couple weeks ago. Before that, I had been unable to use it for months, because it simply wasn't supported. Some searching on Google led me to the madwifi drivers, which would only compile on my machine after some tweaking and then didn't work because it could only handle particularly strong signals. My Windows driver worked fine. In newer versions, it now appears to work, and only recently have I found rpms for it that are Mandrake-friendly.

    I know other people with experiences like this, too. Do you really expect Linux to take off if this kind of user experience is routine? You may think these things are no big deal, but they were a waste of my time and a serious obstacle for people with less Linux knowhow.
  • Yes and No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hauer ( 569977 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:12PM (#11796887)
    I have been using Linux for many, many years, I am really not the one who needs to be converted. But I have to admit that just this weekend I spent I dunno how many ours with kernel-recompiles and trying every possible settings, drivers to get MIDI working on my box. And I failed.

    On my Windows XP I fired up the utility which came with the driver and hit "Test MIDI" and there it was, out of the box.

    Thus while it might be true that the for most of the people and for the most generic cases the driver hell is hopefully gone, there is quite a bit left to go until hardware manufacturers ship drivers which work out of the box just as easily as for Windows.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:15PM (#11796909)
    Odd this should come up. I recently became the proud owner of an Inspiron 4XXX laptop from Dell. The hard disk was done, so I popped in Knoppix to see if the rest of the hardware worked.

    Everything, repeat everything hardware-wise was recognized on the laptop, right down to a battery indicator on the task bar that indicated (fairly accurately, I might add) the remaining battery time. The built-in NIC connected directly to my network and I was browsing the Web in minutes! A quick configure of K3B and I could burn CD's on the built-in CD burner. The only thing that didn't seem to work was the reason I was offered the laptop in the first place: the dead harddrive. Now this wasn't an exhaustive test by any means, but it shows that hardware autodetect has come a long way on Linux.

    As far as Windows on laptops goes, I have many many buckets of blood in my garage from getting windows 95, 98, 2000 (I quit after that!) trying to work on laptops, too!
  • Re:Dearth of drivers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {srevart.sirhc}> on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:33PM (#11797062) Homepage Journal
    It so happens that 3% of my customers are using Linux on the desktop and I expect that number to double in the next year. So far, I have had very few issues getting hardware to work on Linux. A few things still are a problem (wireless LAN cards, but there is ndiswrapper for that). Hopefully thanks to Theo, we will see more WLAN support on Linux (out of the box) in the months to come.

    I am not saying that there aren't rough spots. Take for example, my parents' Olympus camera which appears to the computer as a USB MSC device. Sure it is easy to get this to work as a normal user if you know the system, but if not, then how do you expect the user to edit the fstab to make the drive user-mountable? If course this is a distribution issue, not a Linux issue and could be resolved by modifying the installer.
  • where is the data ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cinnamon colbert ( 732724 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:36PM (#11797093) Journal
    100s of /. posts, and not one saying, heres a web site lists 800 devices, cf the # with linux and the # with MS drivers... I can only assume that part of the core of the argument - that windows is better becuase it has drivers for stupid people like me (by the way what is a driver and why do i need them ...) Lotta snide, sarcastic, know it all responses, but very little int eh way of documentatin on what % of new devices are ok with linux, as opposed to MS.
  • Re:Double-take... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:40PM (#11797130)
    Windows XP SP2, for example, doesn't supports SATA, you need 3rd party drivers in a floppy (unless you integrate them) if you want to install XP in a SATA box.

    Nope, SATA is supported just fine in XP - no need for floppies with drivers on them. Do you mean RAID?

    Guess what will happen with "Windows 64 bits?". Tons of unsupported devices will never work on windows 64, companies are not going to waste money on redoing drivers for a dead product (specially lots of crappy devices made by crappy companies)

    It's called market forces. There's a large number of customers who want their scanner/printer/whatever to work with Windows64. The manufacturers will provide the drivers. Simple. It worked when we moved from 16 to 32 bit OSs and it'll work now.

    And it's only worse for the dual-core CPUs which are coming at the end of Q2.... ....So, wait a few months, I predict we'll spend a few years laughing at Windows users just because of those reasons - lots of blue screens because of non-SMP-safe drivers and unsupported devices in windows 64 bits. Meawhile, in the linux world, everything will work (we'll get a few non-smp-safe-driver bug reports, but we fix those quite fast)

    And what's the difference between dual core and dual processor? Dual processor machines have been working with XP since XP was released. Why would all these drivers that work just now magically stop working on dual core machines?

    Do you actually know what you're talking about? Didn't think so.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:46PM (#11797189) Journal
    That's about as fair as saying "my last stint with Windows was Windows ME which I had to reboot every other day if I was lucky."

    Seven years is a long bloody time. Seven years ago if you wanted to run NT, you had to basically consult MS's list of official drivers, and woe to you if you tried to go beyond that, or if you had combinations of hardware that didn't work well, even if all the individual components were on the harddrive list.

    Oh, and seven years ago, anything other than NT was unstable at the best of times. All the customers I deal with that still run Win98 or WinME still have to reboot the computer at least once a week or things start going hoakey. So, in effect, you had device support, just not very good device support.
  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @06:53PM (#11797274) Journal
    ...but pretty soon Solais 10 is going to be a big competitor to Linux on laptops, especially the 64-bit AMD ones.

    It already works pretty well on the Acer Ferrari 3000 series. Most stuff "just works" (wifi, USB, firewire, card reader, dvd writer etc.) and JDS is a fairly tolerable desktop if you can put up with Sun's pointy-haired decision to replace a lot of the native GNOME applets with (inferior) ones written in Java.

    I think they are working on refining power management now.

  • I'm surprised that one would have a six year struggle with Linux and not find a distro that fit their needs. Likewise, six years is a long time to be unable to learn how the operating system works.

    I'm not attacking you as a person but how much of an investment did you make into Linux? There was a time for me, as a user, that learning Windows required an investment of time. It was frustrating but I did it because I had to. When I migrated to Linux, it was frustrating but I did it because I wanted to. Has this been 6 years of true investment or 6 years of dabbling? There's a strong difference there.

    Regardless, I hope you eventually find a distro that you like. Linux is an exciting operating system that with sufficient investment, can turn into the most mallable OS I've ever encountered.

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @07:37PM (#11797663) Journal
    You seemed to have missed the entire point. NT was a far more stable OS than Win95 and its descendants. Certainly if one wanted to stay in the Windows world, it was what you used for servers (Linux servers were being used very successfully seven years ago I might add), and yet even NT 4 had a limited number of drivers. You couldn't run down to El-shitto Computer Mart and pick up the Ultra-Cheapo-Wheapo Video Card and have any faith that it could go beyond 640x480 in 16 colors.

    I was around then, my friend, working with NT 3.51 and NT 4 servers. No sane human being would have even tried to run any kind of server on a 95 or 98 box, so you had to watch what you bought. Cutting edge hardware was a complete no-no on NT machines. Of course, all the Win9x users buying this kind of stuff would have drivers, but they also had BSODs and other flakiness to deal with.

    So was NT an inferior product because it wouldn't the $15 El-crappo NIC card when it came out, but rather you had to spend some money to go out and get an Intel or 3com card? Is this what you're saying? Hell, I still can't get one of my SCSI scanners to work right even with XP, and I have an old parallel part IOMEGA tape drive which is still supported in Linux, and has been for over seven years, but never would and never will run on anything beyond Windows 98.

    As to abandoning MS seven years ago, Linux servers even then could stand up to whatever MS was pushing, with cheaper licensing costs (as in free). What did MS have seven years ago that was so fucking fantastic? Win9x was unstable and NT 4 had a relatively limited number of drivers.

    What was your point, other than to use the word "fanboy"?
  • by 10101001 10101001 ( 732688 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:09PM (#11797906) Journal
    You know, I'm not sure Dvorak is like that. Dvorak reminds me sort of Stern or Bush. Ie, sometimes to a great extent all three are blissfully unaware that what they're saying is ridiculous, sensational, and sure to cause a lot of otherwise sane people to go batshit crazy trying to support/deny their stated position. Yes, I'm sure some of its intentional, but I really think more than anything it's the ignorance of the person and the backing of their company/party that allows them to remain where they are. The only main difference I see is that Bush is the only one that has ordered the dropping of bombs and the death of people (you can't drop a bomb and expect to only kill the bad people). At least, that's my main excuse for not just ignoring Bush. Dvorak and Stern are powerless, so much easier to ignore.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @08:14PM (#11797937)

    A. Linux Kernel is a pseudonym; it is not known at this writing precisely for whom, and LinuxWorld certainly cannot confirm any rumors that it may come from the pen of one L. Torvalds. We simply do not know one way or the other.
  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:16PM (#11798887) Homepage
    1. ...but pretty soon Solais 10 is going to be a big competitor to Linux on laptops, especially the 64-bit AMD ones.

    I just installed Solaris 10 on an Enterprise 450 (from scratch not an upgrade) and it's about as barebones and hostile as 9 or 8. The only difference is that Gnome can be chosen for the desktop...though it's not nearly as nice as Fedora let alone Ubuntu. The video also looks horrible.

    It's not a clean and simple configuration either. A Nessus scan of the system shows 9 known security holes (not potential warnings) and a bunch of services running that aren't necessary. I'm keeping it off the network till I can lock down the system properly.

    Solaris 10 is not a Linux killer. Keep in mind, though, that I have no axe to grind against Solaris. As far as I'm concerned it's unix...just like the *BSDs or the Linux distros. It's not great for a novice admin nor is is good for a regular user. Sun dropped the ball.

  • Re:Drivers (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 27, 2005 @10:22PM (#11798927)
    That said driver issues will never be the death of Linux.

    In fact, it is one area where Linux kicks MS around the tree. MS needs the HW provider to provide a working driver--not only their software but their entire business and legal model. For DRM reasons, MS would *love* to provide either a sound card or a video card but they are simply not capable of doing so competitively. In Linux, the vast majority of the drivers are OSS and supported by the software developers. The fact that such a wide range of hardware works is both a testament to the commodity nature of modern systems and the determination and talent of the various developers. There is nothing preventing the hardware companies from approaching Linux the same way they approach Windows. Adapting the work that they were forced to do on MS's behalf and adapting it to work on "everything else" is relatively cheap and could have a good payoff if, for some reason the OSS driver was not up to the task. nVidia is a good example of a company that has taken this approach. MS ends up getting bitten when the HW supplier finds they don't need to develop a Windows driver at all (perhaps the device only makes sense in a server or embedded context or, like 64 bit computing, there is a political game involved). They can't do it and the mfr won't so who is going to do it? Any developer is going to have to think pretty hard about this: if everything goes perfectly, MS or the mfr will pay them a pittance for their work but it is equally likely that they'll get sued by one or the other. Even if the software works, the weekly releases, lack of documentation and broken APIs make ongoing support a task worthy of Sysiphus.

    The other side effect of the drivers coming from the OS supplier instead of the HW vendor affects the installation. One of the reasons it is possible to complete a Mandrake (for example) installation in 1/10th the time the same Windows install would take is the simple fact that all of the software, drivers and patches are handled by the same source. Instead of 10 CDs and 6 websites, you get to deal with 3 CDs and 1 website. Instead of having to make do with a half-assed placeholder until you get around to installing the mfrs disks, the Linux installer has the real driver right there on the CD. Patching is the same. Instead of navigating dozens of obscure websites in hopes of finding the latest driver or praying that the hw vendor hasn't offended Bill this week, the user can simply run the standard update and get the patches for ALL of there drivers. As a bonus, they don't have to worry about finding the correct CD to match the sticker on their case (from a pile of otherwise identical disks) and they can be less worried about the update disabling or breaking their system.
  • by boots@work ( 17305 ) on Sunday February 27, 2005 @11:54PM (#11799623)
    So Solaris is going to be a big competitor because it's nearly as good as Linux? How is that?

    If they had got here say five years ago, when Solaris was still dominant in large IT, then I'd believe you. Many developers/admins were forced to Linux laptops and desktops because it's close enough to commercial unix, and they couldn't justify $8k for a decent workstation or the hassle of Solaris i386. But that battle has already been lost; Linux is now the standard, not Solaris.
  • by theantix ( 466036 ) on Monday February 28, 2005 @12:29AM (#11799883) Journal
    Dvork had a point, but he vastly overstated it. But consider the case of binary drivers like ATI/NVIDA, and the ndiswrapper and captiventfs drivers mentioned in the article. How many of us can use an open source ATI or NVIDIA driver for 3d graphics? How many wireless cards work without ndiswrapper? And of course the open source ntfs is still read only to my knowledge.

    The open source equivilents of thse projects are not dead, but they are moving significantly slower than other projects that have no binary equivilent. Users are not forced to write their own drivers to get hardware compatiblity and people live with the non-free alternatives.

    What Dvorak is suggesting is that if such binary driver equivilents existed for other forms of Linux drivers, development on open source equivilents would slow down. Well, he said it would die which is of course not true, but still his trollery had a hint of truth to it. Esoteric hardware would likely never have native drivers written for it, just as most wireless-G cards do not today.

    It would most certainly hurt Linux for this to happen, but at the same time it would help in other ways. Increased support for esoteric hardware would have a lot of benefits for Linux too, and people could still write native drivers for more common hardware. It is hard to say if there would be a net benefit or not under what Dvorak proposes. Either way it's utter bullshit because Microsoft would never do this. Oh well.
  • by ratboy666 ( 104074 ) <> on Monday February 28, 2005 @03:03AM (#11800664) Journal
    Lets take this a piece at a time...

    First, you point to the source installation for ALSA. Is it *possible* to do a source installation of your sound driver on Windows? Just wondering.

    As to patching. Ok, you get to patch XP (and, no, it HASN'T been around for 5 years. That would be W2K). And you get to patch Linux distributions (and Solaris), and ...

    You are right, its a push.

    Basic functionality? You mean, VGA 16 colour, and SoundBlaster emulation, right? So what, Linux has VGA and SoundBlaster as well.

    Now, these argugments are NOT meant to persuade you to use Linux. If you were ready, or had a reason, you would know. Since you like Microsoft Windows, and you have ALREADY paid for it, go ahead and knock yourself out.

    Back to the "Will Microsoft kill Linux?" point, "Linux Rules"/"Microsoft is Better" point/counterpoint --

    There are two major camps; those that desire a good, solid, standards-conformning base, with the advantages conferred by Open Software, and those that really couldn't care (at least about the standards, and the Open) -- but do care about the "look and feel" style interactions. You know what camp you are in, and when/if you want to come to the other side.

    Personally, people who stick with Proprietary Solutions make me happy; they have provided me with a much increased income over the years. And I hold Microsoft shares. They haven't done as well as ATI since the bust, but have certainly out-performed Red Hat, HP, SUN. On the other hand, I like Open Software, so my own gear runs it. Suit yourself.

  • Don't agree... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Domini ( 103836 ) <> on Monday February 28, 2005 @05:43AM (#11801088) Journal
    Drivers under Linux suck (compared to windows). Sure they are great... if you know how to manually tweak module settings. And I do... but I don't care to. I just want to do the basics... you know, like BOOTING and such.

    People here are talking about the random old piece of hardware not supported, but I'm having trouble with my standard DELL Inspiron 9100/XPS laptop. So much so that both the latest 3.7 Knoppix and MandrakeMove did not want to even boot up on this! Even Windows worked without any funky drivers!

    I still use Linux, mostly because of the price, but I have to test most configurations thoroughly before I can decide to use it. (Factor this into TCO?) When I hit on a stable combo, I just hope the MOBO does not stop being manufactured for a while at least.

    When Linux runs, I have to admit... it runs well. Still beats windows for server applications hands down. (I've had windows servers crash on me because I right-clicked on the desktop.... but this was because no drivers were installed on it... something I soon and easily fixed.)

    Also when I used to run Debian and upgraded to 'untested' I had some serious problems. I needed to do this because of certain USB support and proper Serial-ATA drivers. (I needed the 2.6 kernel) My machine sorta worked. (Well Quake 3 worked the best ever!) But most things were a pain... my removable 250 Gb external FAT32 USB/firewire drive was a real pain.

    For now, I am still only running Linux on my old AMD K6, Windows XP on my DELL Inspiron and TV media machine (3GHz P4) and OS X on my Mac (Just Love Apple/OSX's user experience... sucks with game availability though). Perhaps Apple (Amiga/C64/etc) had the right idea about locking down the hardware a bit... the variety of chipsets are the greatest cause of frustration for PC (and Linux in particular) users!
  • by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <> on Monday February 28, 2005 @06:56AM (#11801225) Homepage
    I haven't had a BSOD for years. The last time was when I tried to run some software that wasn't Win2K compatible and then had to go buy an equivalent - about 4 years ago.
  • by iwan-nl ( 832236 ) on Monday February 28, 2005 @08:36AM (#11801478) Homepage
    they have a live cd as well

    Yes they do, but don't get turned off if the live cd doesn't work for you. The live cd is not really ubuntu, it's basicly morphix with an ubuntu theme.

    Try the real version instead. It's is a very nice distro and it would be a shame if the live cd ruined your ubuntu experience.

  • by goober1473 ( 714415 ) on Monday February 28, 2005 @08:41AM (#11801502)
    Solaris has been strong in the server market as it has controlled hardware to run on, I am interested to see how exactly Sun gets around the numerous graphics cards etc out there by just releasing Solaris 10 for intel/amd!

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde