NewsForge: Linux advocacy and hardware support

“A constant refrain in the email I get from people
trying to use Linux for the first time is, ‘Linux needs better
hardware support.’ At the same time, many experienced Linux users,
who also wish Linux had better hardware support, worry about Linux
getting ‘dumbed down’ if a lot of people who aren’t very
knowledgeable about computers start using it. But better hardware
support will only come if Linux becomes more popular among
non-gurus. Here’s why:

A friend of mine — a respected Linux developer — points out,
“Microsoft doesn’t write hardware drivers for Windows. The
manufacturers write them. For a Linux distribution to write all
their own drivers they’d have to buy almost every kind of hardware
out there, and none of them except maybe Red Hat can afford to do
that, so Linux hardware support is dependent on the community.”

My friend also notes that community-generated Debian has an
advantage over commercial Linux distributions when it comes to
hardware support, because instead of being produced by a single
company, Debian is made by thousands of individual volunteers, all
of whom have their own hardware. Among that huge crowd, someone or
other is likely to own almost any common component or peripheral
there is, and sooner or later will either reverse-engineer a driver
for it or talk another Debian person into doing it for them.”


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