Small Success Stories

IT Toolbox recently ran an article (http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/locutus/linux-is-losing-its-stable-title-33866) attacking GNU/Linux desktops as being unstable and not living up the reputation that GNU/Linux has created (on servers, which it is still damn stable). While there is a lot in the article that I disagree with — except for the cruft that distros keep shipping known as NM — it did get me thinking about just how bad hardware support is strange hardware, namely laptops and bleeding edge computers, which may have worst hardware detection and distribution support because of their unique/new hardware.

So, imagine my surprise when I plugged in my Epson Stylus R220 printer into my F11 laptop, an EEEPC 1000HE whose somewhat random hardware worked completely “out of the box,” except for the wireless which required drivers from rpmfusion-free, and the laptop automatically recognized installed and used the printer with no GUI intervention from me. It’s probably the only reason I made my flight today, after about 30 seconds I could print using a printer that the machine had never seen. This was after my parents spent about two weeks trying to get the printer to work on Windows XP when they first got it. Bad hardware detection?

My Logitech gamepad also works on my laptop “out of the box,” on GNU/Linux, which it did not in Windows XP, without going through installing logitech’s drivers AND GUI configuration tools. My webcam even works on Fedora 11, which, to be completely honest, surprised even me! I have never had any problems with hardware except for suspend/restore issues while running Debian sid on my old laptop; these issues may or may not be fixed by now, I don’t know, but that is somewhat besides the point. The point being that, even on a bleeding edge distribution such as Fedora 11, it is possible, even trivial to have a working, stable, fast and beautiful GNU/Linux system.

I realize that this goes with the saying “YMMV,” but small success stories such as these remind me why I’m using GNU/Linux — stability, usability and freedom. Things I never had running Redmond.

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~ by Ryan Rix on 4 September 2009.

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