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NewsForge: Linux advocacy and hardware support

Nov 29, 2001, 00:30 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robin 'Roblimo' Miller)
"A constant refrain in the email I get from people trying to use Linux for the first time is, 'Linux needs better hardware support.' At the same time, many experienced Linux users, who also wish Linux had better hardware support, worry about Linux getting 'dumbed down' if a lot of people who aren't very knowledgeable about computers start using it. But better hardware support will only come if Linux becomes more popular among non-gurus. Here's why:

A friend of mine -- a respected Linux developer -- points out, "Microsoft doesn't write hardware drivers for Windows. The manufacturers write them. For a Linux distribution to write all their own drivers they'd have to buy almost every kind of hardware out there, and none of them except maybe Red Hat can afford to do that, so Linux hardware support is dependent on the community."

My friend also notes that community-generated Debian has an advantage over commercial Linux distributions when it comes to hardware support, because instead of being produced by a single company, Debian is made by thousands of individual volunteers, all of whom have their own hardware. Among that huge crowd, someone or other is likely to own almost any common component or peripheral there is, and sooner or later will either reverse-engineer a driver for it or talk another Debian person into doing it for them."

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