[conspire] (forw) Re: driver

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Jun 26 12:05:06 PDT 2006

This is one of the two guys who'd written earlier, the one who inquired
about installing Red Hat.  He sends his regrets about not having been
able to make the meeting, but expects to come next time.

----- Forwarded message from "Williams, Mike" <MWILLIAMS at probusiness.com> -----

Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 11:15:49 -0700
From: "Williams, Mike" <MWILLIAMS at probusiness.com>
To: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Subject: driver

Hey Rick, 

The driver I was referring to was a cheaply built 802.11 superG. The disk didnt have a Lindriver I'll look for the name as I dont have my lap w / me

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Moen [mailto:rick at linuxmafia.com]
Sent: Friday, June 23, 2006 8:01 PM
To: Williams, Mike
Subject: Re: red hat

Quoting Williams, Mike (MWILLIAMS at probusiness.com):

> Ok. not finished until 8 pm but got add through mapquest. Ive been
> keeping up with linux but no install except for an older Xandros, RH,
> and Suse on laps and had some driver issues so i took it off. note
> they were all older versions though. Ive heard some things about
> ubuntu I recall reading that Google was considering this as an OS to
> compete with M$ but I dunno. 

It really does depend on what you're looking for.  

If you're looking to run lots of Win32 applications under emulation,
then you need something that runs Crossover Office.  Xandros Deluxe
Edition is the smoothest, least-difficulty ride to that destination, and
is priced accordingly.  Of course, lots of other distros can _run_
Crossover Office, but no others to my knowledge come with it built in
(not even the lower-priced Xandros editions).

If you think you need, for some reason, to run the exact same RHEL as
the boss runs on the work machines, then you're pretty much stuck with
RHEL or one of its freely redistributable "rebuilds", such as CentOS.
If you actually need paid "enterprise support", then your options are
RHEL, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop,
Novell Linux Desktop, and Ubuntu/Kubuntu.

If you like KDE and the rpm package manager, you're looking at
SUSE/Novell, Linspire, or Mandriva.  If you like KDE and prefer a
Debian-like setup, then you can pick among Kubuntu, MEPIS, Kanotix (all
installable live CDs) -- or Xandros.

If you like GNOME and the rpm package manager, look at SUSE/Novell,
or RHEL and rebuilds.  If you like GNOME and prefer Debian-style, then
you want Ubuntu.

"Driver issues" divide into two categories:

1.  "My hardware is too new for my distro."  The phrasing of the
question implies the answer:  You need an updated distro version.  This
is the _other_ main reason, beyond security, that continuing to use old
distro releases is not advised.

2.  "My hardware (some of it) is from a company that doesn't cooperate
with the Linux community, and thus far is support only by restricted 
proprietary drivers that my distro doesn't furnish."  E.g., there are a
bunch of winmodem designs and 802.11g/802.11a wireless chipsets for
which either no open source drivers exist or those drivers so far work
only haltingly.  I'm speculating, here, but I'm reasonably certain that
some of the "shrinkwrapped retail" distributions such as Xandros, some
SUSE/Novell distributions, Linspire, etc. are able bundle a selection of
restricted proprietary drivers by arrangement with their copyright
holders.  (I say "speculating" because I have little to do with those
distros, typically.)  On other distros, more work is required, because
you must acquire those drivers and install/configure them manually.

----- End forwarded message -----
----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----

Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 12:02:09 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: "Williams, Mike" <MWILLIAMS at probusiness.com>
Subject: Re: driver

Quoting Williams, Mike (MWILLIAMS at probusiness.com):

> The driver I was referring to was a cheaply built 802.11 superG. The
> disk didnt have a Lindriver I'll look for the name as I dont have my
> lap w / me

Not a problem.

I realise it's standard practice in the Windows world, but in Linux we
don't expect (or especially want) hardware manufacturers to provide
Linux drivers on their driver CDs / diskettes / whatever.  Two reasons:

o  It's so difficult giving them the clue that they should release
   their drivers as open source that it's not worth the hassle pushing
   for that.  Instead, we tend to concentrate our persuasive powers on
   convincing them to provide real, low-level hardware documentation 
   and example driver source code, so that the open-source community
   can write drivers without having to reverse-engineer the hardware.

o  The drivers they produce _usually_ are really, really bad, and our
   community's own programmers can do a lot better.

With an 802.11G card (or anything else, really), the real question you
want the answer to is:  What's the chipset it's based on?  The answer to
that question then determines what driver will be needed in Linux.
Don't panic, though -- as that's the worst-case scenario:  With
reasonable luck, you won't even need to know that, if your Linux
distribution auto-recognises the chipset, as tends to most often be the
case, these days.

If you find out the make/model of your card, you can most often find out
the chipset (and thus the required driver's name) by googling on card's
name plus either "Linux" or "chipset".  E.g., searching

    "Lucent Orinoco Gold"  Linux

quickly determines that the chipset name is "Orinoco" and the driver
name is "orinoco_cs" (Orinoco driver, Card Services type).

If you can just e-mail me the make/model of your card, I can research
that for you.  

By the way, you might be interested in joining CABAL's low-traffic e-mail
discussion list, "conspire":

Among other things, that puts you in touch with (a piece of) the larger
Linux community, and not just with me.  We try to solve people's Linux
problems in public, because the questions and answers then benefit many
people, and not just one.

----- End forwarded message -----

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