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Operating Systems

Journal hullabalucination's Journal: Windows, Linux and Drivers

How you can tell it's the first week of the month: the monthly "Linux Isn't Ready for the Desktop Because It Lacks Hardware Drivers" articles pop up all over the Web. It's a sweet deal for writers. You really don't have to do any investigation or comparison with other operating systems/platforms. You just regurgitate the Popular Myth in 1,250 slightly rearranged (from last month's article) words, submit to your Editor and...PROFIT!!!

I'm just wondering why we're not reading the same articles about Windows XP 64-bit. It has really lousy hardware support as well. So lousy, you're really much worse off with 64-bit Windows than 64-bit Linux. I should know; I've got a dual boot Windows 2K Pro/Fedora Core 5 system on an Athlon A64 3200+, happily running the SMP distro of Linux; alas, Windows 64-bit doesn't appear to be in the cards due to the wireless network card (a Belkin F5D8000).

This is from a June 2006 post over at from a hapless XP-64 user with the same card:

No luck here. I have the same problem. I am using XP 64bit and l have most all my programs and hardware running except for a wireless card. The programs that wouldnt run (which are only a few) have been replaced with alternatives that run under 64bit XP. All of the wireless companies that I have contacted claim that they have no plans whatsoever to develop 64bit drivers for their wireless cards. It is not a pretty picture. Most other hardware manufactures at least have plans in the works.

I've been investigating upgrading to 64-bit Windows for a while now; most forums advise you to do the same thing you used to be advised to do 5 years ago with Linux: catalog every bit of hardware in your system and search for a driver before you buy that upgrade from Microsoft. If you can't find a 64-bit driver, thou shalt not pass Go. From the anguished posts on the forums, apparently a lot of hardware is a no-go on XP64. Now, to be fair, a lot of Win64 problems are being rectified literally by the day. But why should I be fair when many of the current Linux Lacks Drivers articles are complaining about issues that were resolved in Fedora a year ago?

Why aren't we reading about the lack of XP64 drivers in the computer press? Well, owning an advertising agency gives me the insight to offer a hint: generally, you don't want to piss off an advertiser who's spending 1.2 mil (U.S.) a year with you, journalistic ethics be damned. That's the reason. There's really no such thing as a completely independent press (spoken as somebody who's been involved in the newspaper/magazine/publishing biz from both inside and outside for 30 years) as long as that press is taking money from those on whom it should be reporting.

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Windows, Linux and Drivers

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The best defense against logic is ignorance.