HP standing behind Linux and Open Source – Not Hardly!

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

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

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

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

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

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.