[conspire] (forw) Re: Linux Certified laptop
rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Mar 28 17:17:28 PDT 2011
----- Forwarded message from Linda R <lindamarcella at yahoo.com> -----
Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 22:23:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: Linda R <lindamarcella at yahoo.com>
To: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Subject: Re: Linux Certified laptop
X-Mailer: YahooMailClassic/12.0.2 YahooMailWebService/0.8.109.295617
Thank you very much for the long explanation and helpful information. I should print it out at work and read it more thoroughly.
I think you said I need to put my card into the Linux computer and run a command to identify its chipset. Is that right?
Does anyone sell PCMCIA wireless adapter cards at the Linux install fests?
Here is something sad: when I got my monitor, I tried connecting it to my Linux laptop running Debian Lenny for about an hour in the evening, and searched all over the Internet to figure out how to configure it as a dual monitor. No luck. Then I connected it to my Windows 98 laptop. By then I was tired and it was getting late. I thought it would be another frustrating experience and it wouldn't work, but after an hour it was working. I had a similar experience with the wireless card. Windows 98 2, Debian Linux 0. How sad.
I want free software to be better than proprietary, but unfortunately it hasn't always worked for me. I was also disappointed when the guy at LinuxCertified told me they design their machines to be obsolete in 3 years. My Windows 98, which I am writing this email on, is still running after 11 years. I do like software development and Latex typesetting on Unix better than Windows, though. (Never owned a Mac.)
--- On Sat, 3/26/11, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
[snip Linda's quoting of the entire preceding thread.]
----- End forwarded message -----
----- Forwarded message from Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> -----
Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2011 17:15:17 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: Linda R <lindamarcella at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Linux Certified laptop
Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.
Quoting Linda R (lindamarcella at yahoo.com):
> Thank you very much for the long explanation and helpful information.
> I should print it out at work and read it more thoroughly.
> I think you said I need to put my card into the Linux computer and run
> a command to identify its chipset. Is that right?
That queries the PCMCIA controller.
FYI, 'lspci' queries the PCI controller (dumps to screen identifying
information about all resident PCI devices).
'lsusb' queries the USB controller (dumps to screen identifying
information about all attached USB devices).
> Does anyone sell PCMCIA wireless adapter cards at the Linux install fests?
Nope. CABAL isn't a store. We're just a bunch of people who use Linux,
and who're competent to help people figure out Linux-relevant problems.
The latter doesn't take much: We know a few basics like the cardctl,
lspci, and lsusb commands, and we know how to search for information
using a Web browser.
For example, when you asked about Linux support for Netgear WG511 cards,
I didn't know a single darned thing about that subject. I looked it up.
Took about 1/2 hour.
> Here is something sad: when I got my monitor, I tried connecting it
> to my Linux laptop running Debian Lenny for about an hour in the
> evening, and searched all over the Internet to figure out how to
> configure it as a dual monitor. No luck.
If you'd asked any Linux user group, they'd have said 'Oh, the search
term you need is "xinerama". Do a Web search for that plus the name of
your video chipset. If you post here the output of lspci, we can pick
out the video chipset line for you if it's not already obvious. Also,
very recently the concept of "MergedFB" mode has started to take over
from xinerama, so Web-search for that plus your video chip, too.'
So, if the correct search term isn't obvious, ask a Linux user group.
As an MS-Windows user, you have internalised a great many conventions
about the Redmondian way of doing things, to the point that you're
doubtless unaware of how much of that was non-obvious until you knew it.
Surprise, 'xinerama' and 'MergedFB' (though less the latter) is one of
those things Everybody Knows About in the Linux world and thinks is
natural to look up, similar to the way Windows users think it's
'natural' to go to the Start menu to shut down their computers.
> I had a similar experience with the wireless card.
It'd be easy for the Linux community to make 802.11g and 802.11n
wireless cards a seamless and easy experience. All we'd need to do is
give up on open source.
Just sign NDAs and agree to distribute proprietary drivers and firmware
images only as permitted by chip manufacturers' licensing agreements.
This has been done in the past: It's the way all the proprietary Unixes
from AT&T UNIX to NeXT's NextStep and beyond operated.
I was personally really fond of NextStep. However, in the long term, we
all basically walked away from the proprietary model because a lot of
the proprietary code was brittle, unmaintainable, and very badly
written. Drivers were always a particularly serious problem, and a case
in point: As Microsoft was always the first to acknowledge, most of the
worst instability problems MS-Windows suffers was and is caused by buggy
third-party hardware drivers.
It turns out that every time a company like (say) Broadcom opens up a
proprietary Linux driver so we can see the 'intellectual property' they
were zealously hiding, the revealed source code is absolutely dreadful
and is at best useful as a cross-check for people writing a _good_
driver in the proper open-source fashion. Back when I worked at VA
Linux Systems and we handled such cases, we saw it time and again.
And that is part of why we don't settle for proprietary solutions,
and don't even _ask_ the Broadcoms, ATIs, Nvidias, and Marvells of this
world for drivers at all, but rather for example interface code and
open specifications so _our_ people can write drivers. Properly.
Companies like Broadcom are slowly getting the message. Marvell is
among those refusing to hear. Me, my own solution is: Don't buy
Marvell-based cards, and sell them off if you have them.
> I was also disappointed when the guy at LinuxCertified told me they
> design their machines to be obsolete in 3 years. My Windows 98, which
> I am writing this email on, is still running after 11 years.
You're far more likely to have the Debian 5.0/Lenny laptop be truly
robust and useful after 11 years than your stalwart Win98 workstation,
I'd estimate. I wonder how many remotely exploitable security
vulnerabilities in Win98 + apps are exposed to automated Internet attack
every time you use your router? And Win98 doesn't have any privilege
levels, so the first attack to hit vulnerable code will absolutely
take over the entire machine. Might already have done so.
In fairness, it's at least, in general terms, easier to secure Win98 than
WinNT and all of its successors, as those introduced a huge number of
advertised network service, hence a broad, juicy attack surface.
Anyway, I hope that is useful. In the longer term, please do consider
sampling the online discussion forums of some Linux user groups, as
that is where mutual help and information really show up, in ways that
they do not when you use only one-to-one e-mail queries.
----- End forwarded message -----
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