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Before I begin, I think that I should tell you that this is a rant.  With that out of the way, here we go.  Linux, while much better than it used to be, has bad hardware support.  This is not a problem with Linux however.  The problem lies with the hardware companies.

Those who run Windows or Mac OS X will rarely have a problem with drivers, but we Linux users are not so lucky.  Wireless cards can be flaky, audio cards can have problems, hotkeys on laptops might not work, and sometimes video cards don’t work as they should.  Many new to Linux jump to the conclusion that Linux is inferior, but those who have used it for a long-time know that Linux is not to blame.  Hardware manufacturers withhold documentation and drivers from open-source developers and projects, trying to protect their designs and make money on licensing.  Yes, they have every right to, but in the process, they turn their backs on their users.

If you buy a piece of hardware, it should work with whatever operating system you choose to use.  It should work the same on every platform.  It is absolutely ridiculous to say that open-source users cannot use their hardware because the company needs to protect it.  Why must I use proprietary software just to use it?  I should not have to buy a Windows license just to use something I bought.

I bought the hardware, last time I checked, I didn’t buy the right to use it.  I bought a physical device, not a license.  I should have every resource available to me to make the hardware work.  Documentation should be included with it.  This way, either someone in the Linux community can write a driver, or I can.  This way I can actually use what I purchased.

Not only do consumers benefit from “open” hardware, the companies do as well.  They don’t have to develop software or drivers, making the cost to produce it lower.  Also, people will embrace companies that do this.  If someone buys a product and finds out that it either works or has the ability to work with their software, they will likely buy more of that company’s products.  Now with the opposite approach, is a person likely to buy something that isn’t going to work well or at all with their operating system?  No, of course not, but for one reason or another, this is exactly what many companies do.  They limit their user base by restricting their products.

So, what are companies to do?  Well, for starters, do what your customers want.  Develop a Linux driver, support a project working to do so, or give developers all of the information they need.  It’s simple, but the next question is, what if companies don’t want to share how their product works with their competitors?  Easy, either patent or copyright the design, therefore stopping anyone from legally copying the design to make their own.  The companies need to understand, we just want our devices to work the way they should, everywhere.


One Comment

  1. I wish the same, but its hard to do in real life…hardware is complex, hardware is proprietary and big companies are always at profit with customized hardware..!!

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