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Update: Linux and Windows Hardware Support

As I wrote before, I had a problem with my 7 years old Matrox G400 video card under certain OS from Redmond. I am happy to report that Matrox tech support solved that for me quite quickly -- they provided a beta driver that worked fine for me, giving the much needed 1680x1050 resolution.

So, Matrox is doing a great job supporting older hardware for poor Windblows users. Is it generally the same with other hardware manufacturers. Unfortunately, not.

I remember having a Trident 4DWave DX sound card, which I bought at the same time as my lovely Matrox G400. I chose this Trident card because it has a good Linux support, and an ability (implemented in hardware) to mix and play a few audio streams at a time. The card is still supported under Linux, but it's not the case with Windows XP. In fact, Trident never released a Win XP driver...

So, in Windows world, hardware support mostly depends on Microsoft themselves (and they don't do any good to neither my Matrox nor my Trident: the sound card is not supported at all, and their video driver locks up), and on the hardware manufacturer (OEM). Some OEMs play well, some do not -- and it's not easy to determine how well an OEM will play in 7 years from now.

In Linux, on the contrary, hardware support mostly depends on users. For old hardware, support is removed from the Linux kernel only in case of some major redesign, and if there are no existing users. New hardware is either supported directly by the OEM (like Adaptec, Intel and many others), or by its users (in the worst case scenario it usually involves reverse engineering). Result is a driver with the source code, which could be maintained by enthusiasts even if an OEM lost the interest. Sure, there are exceptions, the most notable being ATI and NVidia video drivers for X Window -- but I hope those will be straightened out sooner or later.

Long term, the Linux way is superior.

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