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Linux Hardware Support Myths and Legends

May 10, 2012, 15:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Caitlyn Martin)

As I briefly mentioned in my recent article on the influence of the Linux desktop, with a new major Windows release just around the corner we are being treated to an onslaught of articles proclaiming the failings of Linux on the desktop. You'd think that such articles wouldn't be necessary if the Linux desktop had indeed failed. One recurring theme is the idea that Linux has terrible hardware support. The premise is always that Linux is impossibly difficult to install and that lots of hardware just doesn't work with Linux. The author almost always proclaims his or her love for Linux if it would just work properly. In reality their love for Linux is about as sincere as my love for Windows, but I digress.

Linux is compatible with more hardware than any other OS bar none. That certainly includes Windows. Try installing Windows 7 on some random laptop from scratch and see how much is missing or unsupported without third party drivers. My experience doing Linux installs for my customers is that a lot of off the shelf hardware "just works" and the rest needs proprietary drivers downloaded to make it work, just like Windows. There is, indeed, some hardware that doesn't work with Linux and years ago that was a real issue. The fact is that more and more manufacturers are supporting Linux well and other drivers have been adequately reverse engineered...

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