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Know Any Hardware Needing Better Linux Support?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the problem-you-don't-see-every-day dept.

Software 518

Dev Null writes "The Linux device driver project has hit something of a snag: they have lots of developers, but few devices to work on, so they're looking for input concerning which devices aren't well-supported in Linux. If any of you know of devices that could use better support, you can help out by listing them on the project's wiki."

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First (3, Insightful)

DJ_Perl (648258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145363)

..of all, why are they excluding printers? The fact that Linux printing is done is userspace is not an excuse. When I want to print or scan on a Linux machine, I don't want to hear that technicality. I just want it to work.

Re:First (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145401)

why are they excluding printers? The fact that Linux printing is done is userspace is not an excuse.
Because these are Linux developers, not CUPS developers or SANE developers. Let the people who specialize in userspace handle userspace.

Re:First (2, Insightful)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145409)

I could not agree more. What a pompous tagline...."many developers, few challenges" (or however they're trying to pitch it) and then a disclaimer that they can't be bothered to work on the MAJOR printer driver issue (*cough--Lexmark--cough*) because printing takes place "in userspace"? What the hell does that even mean? Look, I have no problem with the fact that there aren't drivers for every proprietary piece of hardware in Linux, I get it, I realize it's volunteers for the most part. On the other hand, for a group of volunteers to act as if there's a shortage of work to be done is ridiculous.

Re:First (2, Informative)

Trelane (16124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145445)

These are kernel developers, not userspace developers. Hence, userspace issues are outside the scope of their efforts. It doesn't mean that they're ignoring it; it's just not what they do.

Wikipedia has good links to tell you more about kernel [] and userspace [] , if that's your sticking point.

Re:First (0, Redundant)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145583)

so don't claim there's nothing to work on? it's bloody obvious to everyone who has tried to install linux there's tons of work needed on drivers

Re:First (2, Insightful)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145917)

You don't get it. They're kernel developers, and they're asking about kernel modules, which are an entirely different type of thing from userspace drivers. They're asking for suggestions on what devices that need kernel modules to work are unsupported. Telling them to work on printer drivers is like responding to water company employees who've rehabilitated all the water mains and are asking what other water-system related work needs doing with "why don't you fix the town electrical grid?" They're working on what they know how to work on; and they're asking "within the domain of this stuff that we know how to work on, what still needs doing?"

Re:First (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145819)

Ok, so they go do some non-bit-banging code for a bit
just to keep themselves limber while they're waiting for
a "kernel programming problem" to fall in their lap.
What's the big deal really? If you can't find Linux device
driver work to keep an entire "Corps" of engineers busy
then you just aren't looking.

          I mean come on...

Re:First (2, Insightful)

piojo (995934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145939)

Ok, so they go do some non-bit-banging code for a bit just to keep themselves limber while they're waiting for a "kernel programming problem" to fall in their lap.
Is that flamebait? Anyway, these are people we are talking about. They aren't volunteers. They probably all have job contracts, that they signed and agreed to work on the kernel. Asking them to work on something else is unfair, and why would they want to? You seem to think that programming one thing is the same as programming any other. For example, say you work in an office, doing sales, and the boss tells you that you're gonna work in marketing for a while. Is that okay with you? It's probably not, if you're constantly trying to improve yourself in your job (improving at sales) like good programmers do.

Re:First (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145481)

What sort of clown mods this "Insightful"? It's just whiny astroturf.

What a pompous tagline...."many developers, few challenges"

TFA says it really clearly. They have 300 developers lined up and 6 devices submitted for driver development.

then a disclaimer that they can't be bothered to work on the MAJOR printer driver issue (*cough--Lexmark--cough*) because printing takes place "in userspace"?

These are KERNEL driver developers. A completely different skillset. They say that very clearly on the wiki, and even provide a link to the printer driver project for the Google-challenged.

Re:First (2, Insightful)

Nikker (749551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145835)

You have to cut the users some slack, when you tell them there are people ready and waiting to start making drivers but their drivers don't count then why the big fuss about the kernel programmers in the first place?

Its kinda like (as far as car analogies go) finding the car industry has the researchers to discover amazing millage and horsepower then we have ever had, but telling the consumers we don't make their kind of car. Just sayin....

Re:First (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145945)

No, it's more like the engine designers having trouble finding things to improve and then a bunch of whining bitches coming in and complaining that those engineers aren't working on the upholstery for the seats or the body of the car or whatever.

User space defined (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145483)

they can't be bothered to work on the MAJOR printer driver issue (*cough--Lexmark--cough*) because printing takes place "in userspace"? What the hell does that even mean?

Linux is a kernel. Almost every other program running on a Linux-based system, be it GNU/Linux or uClinux, is an application running in user space [] , a part of memory separate from "kernel space". The drivers for printers are "filters" for an application called CUPS [] , the drivers for scanners are modules for an application called SANE [] , and the drivers for video cards are modules for an application called X.Org X11 [] .

The people who made this request for proposals are interested in projects that need specific support from kernel space. The kernel side of scanning and printing is solved through libusb.

Re:User space defined (1)

Epistax (544591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145741)

... and yet the answer to the question "Know Any Hardware Needing Better Linux Support?" is still "Yes: PRINTERS!".

Re:User space defined (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145825)

> Almost every other program running on a Linux-based system, be it GNU/Linux or uClinux, is an application running in user space,

News flash:

Nobody. Cares.

They just want their shit to work.

Re:First (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145513)

It's funny because the call for more devices at mentions:

It's not just the Linux Foundation; users, as can be seen in early results from the Linux Foundation's continuing Linux desktop survey, also want better driver support. Specifically, they want better support for printers, scanners, USB storage and Wi-Fi devices.
What's not supported by this project? Well, printers, scanners and USB storage... While it's in some ways good that we don't need more kernel drivers, it's bit like saying "Well, we now got 100% support on floppy drives. Anyone got unsupported floppy drives? No, we only do floppies." when there's obviously a huge demand for other types of drivers. They should rename themselves the "Kernel driver project", not "Linux driver project" because they only deal with a small fraction of what everyone else thinks - Linux drivers = drivers for Linux.

Linux is a kernel (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145587)

They should rename themselves the "Kernel driver project", not "Linux driver project"
The kernel is "Linux". The operating system is "Ubuntu" or "openSUSE" or some other flavor of GNU/Linux. USB imaging devices generally already have a Linux driver; they just need a CUPS or SANE driver.

Re:Linux is a kernel (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145815)

By your god-awful definition, Linux has perfect open-source support for nVidia graphics cards because the kernelspace shim exposes the memory to userspace, which is all the kernel needs to do. Well, for me and the 99.9% of the rest of the world that don't play word games, drivers are about functionality. "Does it have a Linux driver?" == "Is there a system, running the Linux kernel, where this device works as expected?" If you can't get results then it doesn't have support in any meaningful way I can think of.

Re:First (3, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145637)

Well, the issue here is that what "everyone else" thinks is wrong. LINUX IS THE KERNEL. Period. End of story.

Writing code for a kernel takes a completely different skill set than required for writing printer drivers, etc.

Notably, libusb supports reading and writing arbitrary data to arbitrary USB devices. If libusb can see it, no [i]kernel[/i] driver is needed, that would be duplicated (wasted) time, effort, and resources.

Re:First (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145833)

Any kernel developer is perfectly qualified to write userspace code. They might not want to do so, however, because userspace is fragmented, has ho unified API and generally is not as glamorous. Some code (SANE) is awfully hackish at places.

Re:First (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145539)

What a pompous tagline...."many developers, few challenges" (or however they're trying to pitch it) and then a disclaimer that they can't be bothered to work on the MAJOR printer driver issue (*cough--Lexmark--cough*) because printing takes place "in userspace"? What the hell does that even mean?

Lets just start with what the hell the drivers are in userspace means. It means they are not part of the kernel, do not use the kernel API, and kernel developers would not necessarily have the skillset to develop them. These people are about as qualified to write printer drivers as New York City firefighters are trained to handle the California Brush fires.

Now the firefighter analogy goes leads nicely into the second issue, different areas of control. Those in charge of the kernel and those in charge of CUPS (the userland tool that handles printing) are different people. There are different politics, different leaders, and different cultures. Just as a different fire department handles fires in New York City and Jersey City, different developers handle integrating drivers into the kernel and CUPS.

So yes, if thes people are all bored, and generalyl intelligent people, it might be a good idea to talk to the CUPS people, learn to write printer drivers and create a joint task force. However, that would require a lot of political work.

Re:First (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145605)

These people are about as qualified to write printer drivers as New York City firefighters are trained to handle the California Brush fires.

If the brush is burning and the official fire departments aren't working on it, a New York City firefighter would be a damn good backup. I think the people here are overstating the whole kernel vs. userspace dichotomy; we're not talking about a plumber trying to rewire an electrical system. The skillsets aren't that far away from each other.

Re:First (2, Insightful)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145707)

How about an electrician working on sensitive electronics? Even as close as they are, electrons making circuits or not making circuits, there is a wide gap between the people who work on 220V mains and 5V chips.

Re:First (1)

ydrol (626558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145735)

Surely a major part of what drives developers to work for no financial gain is being interested and motivated in what they are doing. Telling them to go an write something else they are not interested or grounded in, for sweet f/a??

Re:First (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145893)

What does user-space crap have to do with the linux kernal?

Replies from 'osmanjusri' and 'tepples' both spell this out. I know this is /. where it's not in vogue to RTFA, but this time it might of helped you understand the way *nix code development is seemingly laid out.

Many pieces of PC hardware can (and WILL!) end up in someone's desktop/experimental PC. This overwhelming combination of possible configurations will make it impossible for any OS to include all possible drivers- even IF the hardware mfg.'s would release the code for their stuff to the OS coders...

Even MS has different departments involved in the whole OS environment. (I feel dirty saying that, but it's true)

I apologize if you are a Windows or Mac user, or a *nix n00b, and just don't know any better. If not, then all of the above applies full force.

I consider myself a *nix n00b after messing around half-heartedly for quite a few years (started with Caldera Open Linux Base 1.1, went through playing with Mandrake 7-10.3, tried to like CentOS4 and 5, Fedora Core 4 and 5, Ubuntu 5.10 *getting interested now*, ditched WinXP permanently for Kubuntu 6.10 2 or so years ago, and am now happily on Kubuntu 7.04- looking at 7.10.

My only major gripe with drivers and Linux happens to be with scanners (old Visioneer 6100 USB flatbed that I could not get WinXp drivers for-only Win98...also not supported in sane under Linux) and 3d acceleration with my ATI 9559 256MB AGP vid card. Both of these issues are due to the hardware mfg.'s forthcoming with spec's and means to support the hardware- not the eager hand-tied Linux coders.

ATI vid card support for Radeon cards has improved some, with more promised...we'll see, but hoping!
6100 USB scanner drivers for sane? I have heard rumours that work was going, but at glacial speed.

Maybe that should be my next hobby/project: learning some programming and trying to contribute if I can get the 'hang of it'. Yes, I think that would be a good thing to try- put my 'money' (I don't have any money, so insert applicable term in place of money; let's try: 'principals', "strong opinion','tech ideology', etc. in place of 'money' in above) where my mouth is.

Despite it's faults, *nix also has many positive aspects- it's open enough you can make it what you want. (after you learn how- but you can do this realistically)

If I have misunderstood your point of view, then again, (as in above) I apologize. It's a bit more complex than you alluded to was my point.


Re:First (3, Insightful)

dch24 (904899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145459)

I agree with you on scanners. What about ATI video cards? The specs are being published. Surely there's a great demand for developers there. Or, contribute to the Nouveau project [] for nVidia cards.

I haven't been really impressed with the ALSA project's driver support, either. But it's probably not for lack of interested developers.

Re:First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145463)

why are they excluding printers?

Because Microsoft pays many major hardware developers not to support Linux. This is mostly entertainment hardware (DVD drives, sound cards & display adapters) but its the same story for most leading hardware manufacturers in a lot of areas. They know its only a delay tactic (like their attempts to get reverse engineering banned by the DMCA) but every delay will slow Linux adoption. This is the main reason for the growth of Winmodems, Winprinters and other devices that offload work onto the CPU. When TPM (formerly Palladium) is brought in, they will use patented/proprietary hardware encryption to prevent Linux support.

Bribery? Citation needed (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145521)

Because Microsoft pays many major hardware developers not to support Linux.
"Many" sounds like Weaselsprache [] to me. Which manufacturers have taken money from Microsoft not to disclose device details to developers of Linux, FreeBSD's kernel, X11, and userspace driver frameworks that run on those systems such as CUPS and SANE?

Re:First -- Printer are different (0, Redundant)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145475)

Printers and user space programs are outside the kernel space. They are built differently, tested differently, deployed differently, and part of different projects with different management.

Think of it like volunteer firemen saying we have no fires to put out, but the police complaining that there's too much crime on the street. You wouldn't expect firemen in general to take the duties of police, would you?

Re:First -- Printer are different (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145851)


If they're really bored, send them all the way through the police academy.

If you've got time to burn it really doesn't make any sense to do anything else. Retraining to do something other than something that isn't in demand any more (or right now) is rediculously commonplace these days.

Even if you don't take that approach there are little things like "binary compatable drivers" and other little projects that you could keep a bunch of bit bangers busy with. It just takes a little bit of imagination.

Although I don't buy the idea that there isn't enough work in kernel space to keep everyone busy.

Re:First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145635)

Render unto userspace, that which is userspace's.

Re:First (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145905)

Printer support for Linux is pretty damn good atm.

Anyway these are kernel hackers so they wont touch anything other than the kernel.

Only the best! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145367)

How the support for that PS2 "Trance Vibrator"?

Re:Only the best! (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145423)

How the support for that PS2 "Trance Vibrator"?
Drivers for USB devices are a userspace issue, and the kernel space developers don't want to work on userspace issues that they know little about.

Re:Only the best! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145841)

O - Joke

.o - You
/ \

Ignore the periods, you get the picture.

Re:Only the best! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145857)

Crack open a book.

Keeps the mind from suffering atrophy.

Helps keeps away the alzheimers.

Did I get sucked through a wormhole back into 1950 where people expected to work the same job for the same employer for 40 years? Is it the Twilight Zone in here?

not quite true (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145865)

The trance vibrator runs in personal space, not just user space, although I suspect some enterprising hackers have succeeded in jamming that thing clear up to their kernel. The product might warrant consideration, since at the moment insmodding the trance vibrator often necessitates an ER visit.

Parallel tape drives support... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145383)

How about supporting parallel tape drives? Those were a pain to get working ten years ago. Oh, wait a minute. Newer computers don't have parallel ports, and 40MB tapes don't hold squat. Never mind.

Re:Parallel tape drives support... (1)

appleLaserWriter (91994) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145703)

and 40MB tapes don't hold squat

I back up my USB flash drive with ten of those, you insensitive clod!

Whatever's in (1)

Psychor (603391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145385)

Whatever's in my Abit IP35-pro (P35 chipset based) motherboard with a quad core P4 and an Nvidia 8800GTS card that prevents almost any distribution from installing straight off the CD/DVD would be a good start. I've tried a number of current distributions and they've all hung or crashed in various weird ways.

Not that installing Windows was a picnic either of course, the only way I could coax XP into installing was to manually add RAID drivers to the installation disk since of course I don't have a floppy drive and the evil thing demands one.

Re:Whatever's in (2, Informative)

diskis (221264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145491)

I have an nvidia 8600 on a P35 motherboard. Tried 4 different distros, each crashed in the installation. Then I tried a text-based installer. Works fine.

Linux support? (5, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145399)

Know Any Hardware Needing Better Linux Support?

Pretty much any Windows PC, I'd say.

Re:Linux support? (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145549)

Have you tried a current version of Linux?

Re:Linux support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145673)

**** WHOOSH ****

Hear that noise? It was the sounds of a joke narrowly missing your brain.

Ha ha (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145411)

OK, how about NVidia graphics cards for a start?

No, I mean drivers that support 3d acceleration, and docking and undocking, and xrandr, and xv, and suspend to RAM, and power management, all without crashing. I've been waiting for years.

Re:Ha ha (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145507)

I think so too. I was just trying to play glaxian today and it crashes the NVidia drivers fairly hard. I hate having those things on my system. But I'm not willing to give up decent 3D performance. :-(

I'm seriously considering going for an ATI or Intel card for my next system if they're well supported enough by Open Source drivers at this point. They're slower, but not that much slower.

Re:Ha ha (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145551)

I've never had a single crash with the nVidia driver in my system, maybe you should check your card, it could be overheating. Dust out them fans.

Re:Ha ha (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145647)

It's possible that could be it. But that wouldn't explain why that program (which makes pretty trivial use of OpenGL) crashes the whole system when certain kinds of things happen on screen and Warzone 2100 (which makes a lot more rigorous use of it) doesn't crash the system at all.

Over time with various nVidia cards I've had crashes that are very distinctly related to the program using the card and not the environmental conditions of the card itself. So I think you must've just had extraordinarily good luck.

Re:Ha ha (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145809)

Maybe that game is just poorly programmed? I've never had stability problems with Nvidia binary drivers either.

Re:Ha ha (1)

diego.viola (1104521) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145581)

Xrandr support would be great

Re:Ha ha (2, Informative)

smithdc (1119795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145579)

NVidia cards? What about ATI - the latest release of their Linux drivers perform even worse than the previous version. At the moment, as an ATI Linux user, my next gfx purchase it definitely going to be an NVidia card as their drivers are currently far superior.

Re:Ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145609)

won't happen unless nvidia posts their specs... anyone attempt will fail... the chips are *extremely* complex.

Re:Ha ha (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145667)

Too bad that is not a kernel issue.

The kernel already supports direct access to video cards with DRI. It's up to the / X11 folks to get the "language" the card speaks right and talk to it through DRI.

These guys might be able to write a kernel in their sleep, but completely unfamiliar with the layout, architecture, nuances, and conventions used in the X system.

Re:Ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145683)

Power management features on laptops and various hardware interfaces could be better.

Nvidia will not release docs (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145803)

The project in question involves companies providing hardware specs (potentially under NDA). I'm sure a bunch of these guys would LOVE to work on an Nvidia driver. Unfortunately, Nvidia refuses (and to be fair, may not be able) to release documentation on their hardware.

Without that documentation, it's pretty hard to write a driver.

310 developers? (2, Insightful)

microbee (682094) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145429)

Hmm, that's a lot. However, how many of them actually will end up doing real work when real work comes? But still, very impressive number.

DPMS support (3, Interesting)

Blaskowicz (634489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145451)

Maybe that's an X thing rather than a Linux thing but why is it so that in 2007 that feature looks broken? most times any flavor of win9x or NT correctly detects the screen and allows to choose res and refresh according to the monitor limits. I'm part of an association that builds PC from parts donated or lying in the streets, we use more or less crappy CRTs.

Editing the xorg.conf and tell bullshit about frequency ranges to get 1024x768 85Hz gets boring. Also PCs with improperly blanked screens aren't a rare sight. There are many computers labs full of them at the university (X terminals, diskless VIA C3 PC with 17" CRT), wasting a ridiculous amount of energy displaying black rather than being stand by. That should be urgently fixed.

Re:DPMS support (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145573)

The newest Ubuntu has a windows-like Safe mode so it always goes into X with a configuration option to change res, etc. My video card that is NEVER supported came with out of the box support on Ubuntu, it was a pleasant surprise.

Re:DPMS support (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145877)

What kind of loser edits xfree configuration files for random video hardware? That wasn't even a real problem back in 1994.

Yes! Get power management to work! (5, Insightful)

raphae (754310) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145455)

Powermanagement for laptops seems to have consistently been inconsistent. As someone who uses laptops regularlz, having basic functions like hibernation and going into sleep mode causing complete system lockups on a fairly regular basis is a pretty big show-stopper. While I'd love to see the range of supported hardware expanded, I would really love if existing things like ACPI and various suspend technologies worked better and more consistently. It seems every few releases it works for a while then it completely breaks again. I am about to downgrade a laptop from Ubuntu Gutsy back to Feisty for this very reason.

Having the ability to quickly suspend my machine and bring it up again is extremely high on the list of priorities.

X-Fi, ATI graphics cards, wireless cards (2, Insightful)

etymxris (121288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145461)

Also, there are plenty of cards that work, but still have problems. My Audigy NX operates at the wrong frequency when playing UT2004. Everything sounds higher pitched than it should.

Also, sound cards that support Dolby Digital Live hardware encoding. For that matter, it'd be nice if AC3 encoding worked well with alsa. Pretty gimpy last I tried it.

Re:X-Fi, ATI graphics cards, wireless cards (1)

AgentPaper (968688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145643)

+1 to parent. I have an Audigy 2 ZS Notebook for my laptop, and getting that thing to run nicely alongside the onboard sound module is a gold plated, diamond encrusted pain in the anatomy. In the past I've had to install all kinds of proprietary drivers and blacklist the AC'97 modules to get the Audigy to work at all, and that's a less than optimal solution for lots of reasons - closed source, kills onboard speakers, ALSA required, and so on. Worse, neither Feisty nor Gutsy will suspend properly when the Audigy card is plugged in. I'm not sure how much of that can be fixed in kernel space, but it might be worthwhile for them to try.

Asus C90 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145471)

Recently bought an ASUS C90 (barebones laptop) intending to put linux on it. Tried the latest Ubuntu on it, and while it ran, there was no support for anything else on there; none of the peripherals (card reader, camera, fingerprint reader, HDMI connection etc... ASUS doesn't provide any linux support for it either.

After a week, I gave up and installed XP on it instead.

Audio and MIDI hardware (3, Interesting)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145473)

For example, Presonus Firebox and Firepod. Not just support but proper latency support I guess ( if I can so bold to demand them )

The USB keyboards ( like M-Audio keystations and others ).

It would be really sweet to work on audio in Linux for us CS geeks ( write scripts for audio effects rather than knobs and bars in weird custom interfaces ).

Creative X-Fi series don't work at all (2, Insightful)

postmortem (906676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145501)

Creative as been promising binary with ALSA support for years, so far they have unsupported beta for 64-bit systems (?) that nobody can compile. ALSA project has no driver for these sound cards either.

Full 3D support for any modern card in the kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145509)

Having to rely on binary blobs from manufacturers sucks.

If the kernel devs choose just one card range and reverse-engineer the thing already, there'd be a clear signal to buy that card if you want a hassle-free 3D accelerated Linux kernel experience.

Then, assuming a few of the other card manufacturers wanted to not lose the market share, they might well provide the info needed to make things easier.

As it is, lack of decent accelerated 3D in the kernel tree kills the platform for games and will increasingly see Linux GUIs left in the cold by alternatives like Vista (once it's a little more bug-free with SP1?) and Mac OS X which make integral use of acceleration for their window managers and GUI apps.

And watch the card get discontinued (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145553)

If the kernel devs choose just one [video] card range and reverse-engineer the thing already
Video cards are primarily the job of developers, not Linux developers.

there'd be a clear signal to buy that card if you want a hassle-free 3D accelerated Linux kernel experience.
A completely reverse-engineered card would also be a clear signal to the manufacturer that it should discontinue production of that card model if it wants the alleged gag money from Microsoft to keep flowing. Besides, it would likely take so long to reverse-engineer a 3D video card to a level on par with DirectX 9 that the card would be long obsolete and out of production anyway.

Re:And watch the card get discontinued (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145615)

Got an example of this having ever happened? Because frankly, that sounds like somebody's cop-out.

I know... (1)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145511)

I know this is ATI's problem but the Radeon 9200 has no support (even with the FGLRX driver). Also, I tried to get my extremely old Microsoft Sidewinder 3d Pro joystick working so I could play my extremely old Descent game for the first time in ten years and it had no support at all. That might be the sound card's fault though.

Re:I know... (1)

ynososiduts (1064782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145717)

The Radeon 9200 is one of the best performing Linux cards with OSS drivers. Use the X supplied radeon driver, it works well. "Some segments of the Linux user community, which prefer to avoid the IP-encumbered ATI drivers due to stability and long term maintainability reasons, still prefer the R200-based chips, as they are among the fastest modern video cards with stable open source drivers."

Broadcom wireless cards (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145525)

These wireless cards are integrated in so many laptops, and using ndiswrapper is still pretty crappy.

Webcams, Wifi cards and clean up messes (2, Informative)

inflex (123318) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145533)

Really, I have about half a dozen webcams here which I cannot use, alas I only have one of each so it sort of kills any gain for me to send them the webcam so they can develop the driver (Great, another webcam supported but not in my set of cams :( ).

What's dreadfully bad about webcams is that even with the same model number/name you can end up with a completely different bridge or sensor chip inside either due to a revision change or locality, really, it's pot luck at best.

As for wifi cards, it's really more of a situation where a few of the current drivers are incredibly fickle - perhaps it's the nature of the beast? I've got a RT2400 type card which if it doesn't get its setup parameters within ~2 seconds of the module being loaded it utterly refuses to accept anything else until a complete restart. Things like that make me feel like I'm playing in Windows again.

Webcam Drivers (1)

Whip-hero (308110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145555)

How about webcams? I still can't walk into a consumer electronics store (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc...), pick up a cheap webcam, and expect it to work. And when they post the compatibility status for a camera, they should list it by the name on the box too, not just the name of the chip inside. When I walk into the Wal-Mart electronics department, I don't see a whole lot of Texas Instruments part numbers. I know that there are a lot of different brands of cameras that use the same parts internally, but they could at least list the model that the developer bought himself to write the driver.

As far as I know the Logitec Quickcam Messenger still doesn't work for Linux, and it was a very commonly available camera.

Re:Webcam Drivers (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145625)

How about webcams?
Printers, scanners, cameras, and other USB imaging devices are handled entirely in user space, apart from the kernel calls that libusb [] makes. The skill set for these is separate from the skill set needed for devices that need kernel support.

Re:Webcam Drivers (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145687)

You mean they're highly skilled developers... that are totally unable to dive in and learn something new?

That's sad.

Re:Webcam Drivers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145767)

And that, in a nutshell, is why Linux will never be mainstream.

You see, nobody *cares*. They don't understand the first thing about kernel space and user space. They've never *heard* of it, don't know what it is, and couldn't give a rat's ass about some fancy "ring zero".

This seems to come as a surprise to many Linux advocates, but they just want their recently purchased device to work. They want that shiny new game they just picked up at Best Buy to run. They want it to play those online streaming movies from Netflix! If it doesn't, then Linux is useless to them, and they'll keep using Windows. You have to solve people's *actual problems*, not make their eyes glaze over with details they don't care about.

If Toyota was selling cars that worked, but the Honda cars wouldn't start and wouldn't run on any of the fuels sold by the corner gas station, it wouldn't matter at all if the Honda engineers could talk a good line about the skillset needed to design the pistons being different than the skillset needed to design the brake rotors. Nobody would want the cars! That's the position Linux is in now in the desktop, and until this attitude disappears, it always will be in that position.

You want Joe Sixpack to adopt Linux? Make it work with his hardware and his software. Make it seamless, so when he goes to Netflix the online play "just works". No excuses, no "but...", or "you don't understand that...", or "netflix needs to...". Nobody *cares*. Just make the damn thing work! If that is too hard to do, then Linux will never compete with Windows. It has to work for the things real people really do, not just for the l33t hackers who live to type arcane commands into bash prompts.

Full Support (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145595)

It's already been voiced in the thread, and is said very well in this post about the need for complete drivers [] instead of just drivers that work - but not fully.

userland excuse (1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145613)

Ok, they come out and claim, and i quote "not many drivers that need working on" yet there's fuckload of really obvious stuff like webcams and other consumer gear that needs work, yet when it's brought up they are some how too good to go and do userland code? that's just the elitest kind of bullshit i've come to expect from the linux camp.

Re:userland excuse (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145887)

Well, these people are doing the work for free and you are swearing at them?

I'm afraid that whatever it is that you want, will likely remain at the bottom of the to-do list.

Lexmark has locked me into windows. (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145621)

The fact that I have a Lexmark x7350 all-in-one printer is what keeps Windows on my machine. It isn't supported in Linux, and I _have_ to be able to print things. Sucks that they won't work on that.

The only other thing I've encountered that I'd like better Linux support for is my webcam-- a Logitech Quickcam STX. It works in Linux, but the drivers it uses are inferior to the ones that I've got on my Windows install-- at least, I believe that would be the fault of the drivers.

Re:Lexmark has locked me into windows. (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145817)

Have you considered complaining to the people who you gave your money to for the device?

Re:Lexmark has locked me into windows. (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145847)

Yes, but they sent me a reply saying that they do not offer Linux drivers for my device... which is what I emailed them about.

PC532 (2, Funny)

afabbro (33948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145641)

There is a complete lack of PC532 [] support.

Kernel/Userspace (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145679)

Since all the problems listed have been related to userspace... and if the kernel writers don't have enough to work with... can we not encourage some of the kernel writers to move to userspace coding?

How about laptop memory card readers? (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145705)

I have a card reader on my laptop [] (Hp Dv2000) and the memory card reader (accommodates SD, XD, and a few others) has never worked at all in Linux. I know laptop hardware is incredibly proprietary, but some basic support at the very least would be nice.

Wireless (5, Interesting)

OverflowingBitBucket (464177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145715)


The current driver space for wireless components in Linux is an odd hodge-podge of ndiswrapper, madwifi (two versions), beta drivers external to the mainline kernel, minimal built-in support and blind luck. Cleaning this up should keep a good number of people very busy.

I have a suggestion... (5, Insightful)

anlprb (130123) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145727)

Why don't they go out to Staples, close their eyes, pick up a box in the wireless networking shelf, with preference to the 802.11n boxes and pick one and start writing. What about USB wifi cards? Those still are pretty well hit and miss. What about Broadcom wifi chips, you know the ones shipped with half of HP systems. Start working on a free driver or firmware or whatever is needed. Then, when all the wifi chips are supported and I don't have to worry about my new laptop not being able to get on the internet because HP locked the mini-pci slot to only one card, then we can take a walk down to the Video Card isle. Until you are done with Wifi, we will hold off on the hard stuff.

Don't get me wrong, This is a great service. Just pick something that doesn't have X, be it firmware, a driver stack, whatever it may be and just start coding. I am serious, pick a random box at some store and start working. Look at the Sunday flyer, what is being put on sale. Find one of those devices and if it does not have linux support, buy it, start working on it.

Why do you need to wait around for manufacturers to give you devices? Find what people can and will be buying and start supporting that first, the stuff that won't come out for a year doesn't matter if I can't go in a buy a 802.11n card now and get it to work. And if it doesn't support WPA2, I don't want to hear it, go back to your desk and do it over. I want to see the work this time. No doing it in your head. :)

NDIS is not an option, it is not debuggable or portable across architectures. I have a few PPC machines I would like to use a 802.11n USB network card with.

How about any Broadcom wifi card, with firmware so the driver can be stabilized better than their engineers can.

Just because you don't like how hard it will be shouldn't keep you from starting on it.

Needed list (1)

John Frink (919768) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145733)

Great, now I have a list of hardware to avoid buying for my linux box.

Stabilize the API (5, Insightful)

KC1P (907742) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145765)

A very good use of these folks' time would be to reach some milestones on the Linux driver API so that the dang thing will stop changing all the time. A fundamental assumption of Linux is that constantly changing interfaces is no problem because the legions of faceless programmers will gladly rewrite everything each time around. True (but annoying) for generic hardware that everyone cares about, but not at all true for oddball stuff.

I'm maintaining a driver for a bus adapter interface (for connecting old minicomputer peripherals to PCs) and it's a much bigger time sink than it needs to be. The source code is on my web site, but the users are, well, USERS, so when a new kernel release breaks it they just chuck it back at me to fix. So much for open source taking care of itself by magic. I won't bother submitting this driver to the free driver project because it's kind of useless without the $3000 piece of hardware it works with (and that's not counting the crates full of minicomputer hardware needed for testing). I need mine and I don't picture these folks buying their own no matter how much they care.

Anyway I understand why Linus needs the freedom to get better ideas in the future and doesn't want to be weighed down with tons of backwards-compatibility stuff, but I still think it would make Linux more useful to split the difference and occasionally define an interface (doesn't have to be the default as long as you can ask for it somehow) which is guaranteed to work for some number of years. Then flush it at the end but at least some large amount of rarely-used stuff worked OK in the mean time, w/o having to be rewritten ... by a tiny group of people ... every few months.

OK so I'm still stinging from udev. Sure, it's cute. But it required driver hacking (yet again) *and* broke my user-mode application by changing some of the device names. That would be OK back in kernel 0.x days but this is way too late in Linux history to start breaking applications, and after 16-17 years it's really time for the external interface to the kernel to start quieting down too.

Re:Stabilize the API (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145909)

Well, clearly you are one of the guys working the magic - thanks!

suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145779)

As I see it all the kernel drivers for 'standard' devices work sufficiently. The headline is misleading because Linux has driver issues, but they are mostly user space. Only kernel driver I can think of that needs work is Bluetooth (though that might also only be simply a problem of the implementation of the frontend).

either improve existing drivers, or try non-x86 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145787)

They're problem looks like they only want unsupported devices. Linux already supports almoost every device ever. What it doesn't have is GOOD support for alot of them. For instance, NONE of the wireless drivers in Linux would any respectable kernel developer call "stable". The same can be said for graphics drivers, most of which lack good 3D support, do not fully utilize the card, are missing features, interact poorly with suspend, have edge cases where full preemptability causes problems or have some other small bugs. I've also heard reports that the SCSI RAID support is quite poor and handles edge cases badly.

Linux has no lack of drivers, what it lacks are good drivers.

For things that are just unsupported try non-x86 stuff. There are tons of devices that can "run" linux, but where none of their peripherals are supported. See the jornada 720, or the Dell Axim I believe it's called. How about reverse engineering the couple closed source bits of n770/800 (admitadly that's non kernel, but the reversing part actually is kernel work). Linux runs on arm and mips but there are just piles of these machines where the display, the touchscreen, the sleeping interface, or whatever aren't fully supported. How about an old Dec 3000, I believe there's only one video card supported, or an SGI indy or indigo, both of which linux only supports the lowest end graphics card.

For x86 we need better drivers, not more drivers. For other archs we need more drivers, better can come later.

Intel Intergrated Graphics (2, Interesting)

bendodge (998616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145791)

Almost all PIII-era Intel Integrated Graphics chips won't allow Live CD's to start. They just hang when you try to load the kernel.

It would be nice to put all those old boxes to use.

Re:Intel Intergrated Graphics (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145925)

Uhmmm, some things are just too old and crappy to bother with. Sometimes, I wish I had one of those huge trebuchets to toss old PCs away into the deep dark distance...

Re:Intel Intergrated Graphics (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145949)

No, old Pentium IIIs are most certainly useful, if they can run Linux. With a light distro like Slax, it will make a perfectly good word processor/browsing machine.

Multimedia keyboards, webcams, lirc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145829)

All these work fine on Win, but on Linux:

- Dell multimedia keyboard, specifically the volume control knob does not control the volume (other multimedia keys can be assigned to special functions)

- Webcams are usually a problem -- my Sony webcam never worked under Linux

- Infrared remotes (lirc) are also a pain to install and configure

Imation Disc Stakka (1)

weighn (578357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145845)

The only thing that keeps me (occasionally) booting into my Windows partition is when I need to locate a CD/DVD using the Disc Stakka [] . SourceForge [] has a project in pre-alpha that hasn't been touched since April 2006. This is a great product but for this one limitation.

sh17 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145871)

WiTh the number []

GuitarPort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21145885)

Line6 computer based [] devices, especially the GuitarPort [] . In addition to the drivers, there'll be lot of fun coding a replacement for the GearBox [] app for the effects :-)

Title's misleading. (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145903)

Something needs to change: Define the userspace driver issue where these guys do not program in. People keep on asking for driver support of things "they don't code for." Or for the lack of a nicer way of explaining this, they should get people who know how.

That's strange (1)

rockwood (141675) | more than 6 years ago | (#21145913)

Isn't it that "Demand generates Supply", though they've been amazingly capable of making Supply generate the Demand.
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