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HP standing behind Linux and Open Source - Not Hardly!

Jan 09, 2000, 06:53 (63 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Doug Hunt)

By Doug Hunt

[ The opinions expressed by authors on Linux Today are their own. They speak only for themselves and not for Linux Today. ]

Recently, I purchased an HP Pavilion 8565c for my wife. The system was to be a split system: 85-90% Linux, the other 10 to 15% for Windows tasks that at this time aren't readily available on Linux.

We did a lot of shopping for systems and bypassed several that were proprietary and labeled "optimized for Windows". We finally decided on the HP system, since it was extremely well balanced and nothing indicated that we would have problems with Linux.

We started setting up Linux (using the Macmillan version of Linux-Mandrake 6.5) and everything was moving extremely well, until we got to the point of setting up the sound card. It turned out that HP had contracted Smart Modular Technologies to design a Modem/Sound card combo that is installed in the Pavilion systems. This card uses the Riptide chip from Rockwell. We finished the install, unable to use the modem or sound card in the Linux system.

I hopped onto the HP website, hoping to find others in the same predicament. I certainly did; there were numerous messages on the community board asking for help.

I browsed around the HP site and discovered a Linux section where HP is claiming to put major resources behind Linux and Open Source. I then went back to the HP community forum to look at HP's responses to Linux questions and saw things such as misdirecting clients to non-existing URL's, not once but three times in a row.

I contacted Smart Modular to see if they could give me some specifics on the combo card. They were very nice but had to inform me that the card was made under a contract to HP and that HP handled all the questions about that piece of hardware. They forwarded my email to HP, but I have yet to hear anything from HP.

Others besides myself have tried to go the HP community Forum route but gotten nowhere. I became angry at the following response from one of the technicians:

HP does not currently supply any computers that are designed to run with the Linux operating system. We do not have any information on future releases at this time. On the other hand, if there are any Linux questions that we are able to help with we will do so. However, we as people do not use Linux and have not been trained on it. This presents the obvious problem that we simply do not know the answers.

Also from a personal perspective, it seems unlikely that we will receive any Linux training until it becomes a supported operating system. Thank you for the post and the input is appreciated.

I responded back to this message, pointing out to the technician that according to HP's own web pages, the Vectra and Brio are 'billed' as Linux machines and that HP is in 'full support of Linux and Open-source'. That most of the inquiries were not Linux inquiries but questions about the Riptide hardware, that they certainly should have answers for (such as is it an infamous Winmodem). That was two days ago. My forum message was never posted; possibly the moderators do not want the truth known.

So, for a company that is supposedly supporting the Linux community, I see no support!

For those of you looking for a new computer and planning on running Linux, steer clear of HP -- they apparently aren't sure if they are supporting Linux or not. Me -- I'll be off to the store to buy a supported modem and sound card.