In 200 6, Greg Kroah Hartman, a well known Linux Kernel expert, as able to declare that the following statement:
“Plug and Play in Linux is Still not at the Windows Level”
was not only incorrect, but that this statement:
“Linux supports more devices “out of the box” than any other operating system ever has”
If this is true, than why is it that people don’t know this?
I dunno. I guess people are just dumb. I mean, recent polls showed that a very large percentage of Americans believe in fairies. Or was it witches. Whatever.
Instead of focusing on dumb things people believe, let’s focus on good things people should know. About Linux, of course.
Now, I will state again as I do now and then that I am not a high level expert on all areas of operating systems or computers. I wrote my first computer program in 1966 at the age of 8. By the time I was 10, I was sort of able to write computer programs that worked, but that were not too sophisticated. I have diligently remained at that level (10-year old) ever since. I know everything about 1% of computer technology, nothing about 65%, and bits and pieces of the rest. I have a shelf of O’Reilly books and Idiot’s guides. And I know how to use them.
But I digress. I just wanted to let you know about the Linux Driver Project.
This is a group of just under, or over, 300 developers and a dozen or so project managers who develop and maintain Linux kernel drivers. A few posts back, I mentioned that one of the great things about Linux was that the API was not blindly maintained in such a way that old functions were retained forever …. which means two things:
1) When Linux runs, it is not full of a bunch of crap that no one, or hardly anyone, ever uses; but
2) “Downstream” development (development of code … programs and stuff) that relied on that API cpuld break when the API changed.
I took a lot of heat for saying that this is a good idea. I was partly basing my thinking that this was a good idea on my reading of a presentation by Greg Kroah-Hartman, author of Linux Device Drivers, 3rd Edition, and Linux Kernel in a Nutshell (In a Nutshell (O’Reilly)) (In a Nutshell (O’Reilly)). I still think this idea … that maintaining the API in this way … is right. Not maintaining a stable API is probably more of a problem for proprietary developers who can’t rely on a few hundred crazy programmers to pull their nuts out of the fire, so perhaps it can be accurately stated that for the “Windows/Proprietary” world a stable API is an asset, but for the “Linux/OpenSource” world, a dynamically changing API is the way to go.
But again, I digress.
Greg is the manager/founder/guy in charge of the Linux Driver Project. He wrote in his blog:
Way back in January, I announced a program to write Linux drivers for companies for free. When I did that, I never expected the response to be as large as it was.
It turns out that there were two large groups of people who responded to the announcement, companies wanting drivers, and developers wanting to help out.
This is an interesting philosophy, isn’t it? Greg was faced, actually, with a too-difficult task because the project grew so large and so fast. Fortunately, he works for Novell, and for reasons of their own, Novell has dumped Greg’s entire FTE into the project … he now works full time on the Linux Driver Project.
The Linux Driver Project is located here.
I have an HP laserjet printer. It’s a somewhat older model. I hooked it to my windows machine, and the plug and play thingie did not work with XP and this printer. It took me all afternoon to get the printer to work. However, now I get popups and strange notices whenever the Windows machine is turned on, regarding the printer and the driver, and I’ve also got googolbytes of HP software clogging up the too-small hard drive.
So I yanked the cord on that printer and put it on my Ubuntu Linux box. I installed the printer by clicking on a thing that said “Add Printer” … and the driver for this printer was suggested, I chose it, and in something like a minute or less it was installed.
And I have none of that dumb HP software.
You may ask, why did I even try to hook this computer up to a Windows machine? For two reasons. 1) The windows machine was sitting there anyway and 2) I have another printer, an all-in-one, and a strange el-cheapo scanner and I figured, because I’m a dummy, that between all three devices there would more likely be drivers for them for Windows than for Linux, and that I would use the Windows machine as a hub for this software.
However, the Windows machine keeps falling off of my network (my Linux machines do not). Also, when I hook the scanner up to the XP machine, I have roughly similar results as for the HP printer … I can get it to work but all sorts of strange things have to happen first.
When I hook the scanner up to the Linux machine, nothing happens. There does not even seem to be a way to install it…
… but when I find the “acquire” command on a piece of software (say, Gimp), and select the subcommand that should go to a scanner, the scanner is there. It did not need to be installed, or at least, not by me. It just hapened.
Linux is better.