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DukeOfURL: Linux Buyer's Guide #10

May 23, 2001, 22:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Patrick Mullen)

Patrick Mullen sent us this introduction to his Linux Buyer's Guide:

"It's sure been a while since I've had time to sit down and research and build several systems. Linux is still moving right along, but there hasn't been a terribly huge amount of important hardware developments in Linux. Well, besides NVIDIA's GeForce3, which has shown some very promising results even when clocked 50 MHz lower than its closest card, the GeForce2 Ultra. NVIDIA has also rolled out 1.0 drivers to accompany their GeForce3. Is NVIDIA the only mover and shaker in Linux hardware?

That's a good question. While a lot of manufacturers aren't breaking ground with new products, some products are simply getting some deserved attention. For example, IDE RAID cards are getting more and more popular. The value is truly outstanding on these setups, and 5 years ago, you would have been tied up and thrown into an asylum if you told someone you could get a RAID setup for under $1000.

IDE RAID is great, make no mistake, but most of the RAID-capable IDE chipsets out there are plagued by a single thing. Binary-only drivers. Now I know why anti-NVIDIA people are so worried. In many cases, chipset-makers are just plain slow when it comes to updating their drivers. Promise and AMI both offer chipsets that have good performance, are priced rather low, and come integrated on many motherboards, but their drivers only work out of the box on Red Hat 6.2 and 7.0. That means if you want another distro or an updated version, get ready to do some hacking. High Point's support is just plain weak, with their HPT370 only supporting the card in single-drive mode, which negates most of the card's uses.

Luckily, 3Ware is to the rescue with open source drivers. What could be cooler than that? You'll pay a little more, but believe me, the price is a small one to pay for lifetime support in Linux for your hard disk controller.

We've also seen one chipset maker warm up to Linux a little. ALi is taking some unprecedented steps and even offers up a Linux FAQ on their webpage, which shows they're looking to take up the whole spectrum of chipset-making."

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