Earth To Hardware Dudes: Linux Exists

By on October 1, 2004

I think that we’re rapidly approaching the point at which hardware vendors will no longer be able to ignore Linux.

My wireless router has been misbehaving badly lately. When using my (wired) desktop or (wireless) laptop, you occasionally get no signal and no response from it. Trudging down to the basement to reset the thing magically cures the problem. Time for a change.

I went hucking around Best Buy’s web site looking for a new router, and took a look at the new 802.11g options. Best Buy even has bundle deals available: You can get a ‘g’ router and wireless card together. D-Link is first on the list, a router with a DWL-G630 wireless card. A quick google for ‘linux DWL-G630’ lets me know that there’s no native support for this card. Scratch that. The next one down was a Netgear with a WG511T card. This card’s already listed on as working very well in Linux. Bingo.

One of the big differences between Linux and other operating systems is that it can potentially cost you nothing to support Linux. You have to write your own drivers for Windows and OSX, but if you publicly release detailed information about your hardware, someone in the Linux community will probably write your drivers for you.

A lot of companies are paying at least lip service to Linux these days. ATI claims to support it, but their driver releases are usually way behind their equivalents on other platforms, and they have a lot of bugs to boot. By contrast, Nvidia puts out new Linux drivers at a rapid pace, and most of them work flawlessly. As a result, the next time I buy a video card, I’ll go back to Nvidia instead of purchasing another Radeon part.

While the number of Linux users may be fairly small, when word gets around that certain hardware won’t work for Linux, technically-inclined consumers will try to avoid that part even if they run Windows, because they might want to dual-boot Linux later.

With a lot of sources claiming that Linux users are surpassing Mac users in number, some of these less cooperative hardware companies are going to need to wake up soon, or face an impact on their sales (even if it’s a minor one at first).