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Old 04-10-2014, 05:47 AM   #1
Galane
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Will Linux ever get easy to install drivers?


By easy I mean step 1. download a single executable file 2. doubleclick it 3. if required, enter your password and click a button 4. done!

Apple has had that working in OS X for quite a while, and Mac OS before it. So has Microsoft. Linux? Still mucking about with many commands in a terminal window. :P

I just spent quite a bit of time not getting the Radeon video driver working on a laptop. I'd think that after this long of Linux being around, driver installs would be more user friendly. Nope, not much different than the last time I decided I'd try Linux circa 1998.

Ubuntu is quite sprightly on this old laptop upon which Windows 2000 and XP were never describable as anything approaching quick. Sound and everything else "just worked" (which *is* a big improvement in Linux in the past several years) but the video device remained stubbornly "unknown" despite every procedure I found on the web that was supposed to smack it upside the head and make it work.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 05:57 AM   #2
acid_kewpie
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So wait.. you want to go to a website you have to first find out about somehow, find a download somewhere, download it, click on it... twice... fill in details and then finally have it *start* the install? That does NOT sound easy to me. Why are you putting up with such a hassle of an install procedure?

the majority of drivers for devices are built into the kernel, and if not, open source packages are typically available within a repository that will be automatically installed when you wish to install a package that would interface with that hardware. it's SO simple. I haven't installed ANY third party drivers from websites for YEARS now. Now maybe I'm just not playing around with the right / wrong type of hardware. Graphics cards were certainly historically the frustrating area, but this was absolutely not the fault of Linux. If the manufacturers decline to participate in open source projects to support their devices, then the user is at the manufacturers mercy for support. This had improved massively over the last few years though, as vendors realise their close mindest isn't helping them.

I'd say that while there ARE grey areas which do get frustrating for some, there things you're not understanding about license agreements etc., which leave you unfairly blaming the Linux community. Also though, as above, your "easy" way to install drivers is manifestly NOT easy by any means given how the majority of device installations work these days under Linux, which is VASTLY simpler than windows.

Last edited by acid_kewpie; 04-10-2014 at 06:24 AM.
 
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:18 AM   #3
edbarx
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Downloading a driver from a thirdparty site and installing it is not the best way, far from it. The best way and the most sensible, is to have an official repository and a secure upload/download mechanism. Like the OP, I remember my Windows days when I had to RISK a new installation together with several hours of my time, just to install a driver! Now, that is not easy at all, and, above all, it is INSECURE.

On this measly machine I using right at this very moment, I had to only install the wifi driver: all the other drivers were automatically installed. This is far simpler than the way MS Windows treats anyone trying to finish a new installation!

Post Scriptum:
I had to install a wifi driver because Debian doesn't install proprietary firmware by default.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 06:25 AM   #4
acid_kewpie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
I remember my Windows days when I had to RISK a new installation together with several hours of my time, just to install a driver! Now, that is not easy at all, and, above all, it is INSECURE.
Oh Tucows, how I miss you....
 
Old 04-10-2014, 06:46 AM   #5
Galane
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This is an old MPC TranSport GX3 laptop with a Radeon 7500 Mobility GPU, which Ubuntu 10.04 LTS completely failed to properly detect and setup the driver for.

I spent a bunch of time searching the web and trying various things that were supposed to work, but never would Ubuntu budge from "unkown" on the video device. Lots and lots of time in a terminal window. Not what I'd call "simple", when a single download all packaged up with everything it needs to WORK would be far easier.

I was reinstalling XP on another old computer (yes, after April 8th but that's what its owner wants) and needed to put the SATA driver on a floppy for XP to load during setup.

Welll, this old laptop is the only other system I have operational with a floppy drive, so I figure I'll just pop in the driver CD and a floppy and copy the files over. Nope. Nuh-uh! Even though Ubuntu installed floppy support, actually using floppy disks is disabled by default. More web searching, more time spent in terminal that shouldn't have been needed. At least the fix for that issue worked.

If the open source Radeon driver can be made to work on this old laptop, I'll upgrade it to a bigger, faster hard drive (it's a molasses slow 4,200 RPM 40 gig) and max the RAM to a gig. Then it'll be decently useful again.

I've been using computers for 31 years, so I have much experience with lots of difficult and recalcitrant and just plain stupidly coded software, and with a great deal of software that really does work exactly how it should. No need to get all bent out of shape and snippy when anyone dares to point out a few rough edges in your favorite.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 06:51 AM   #6
acid_kewpie
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it's not being bent out of shape, just a continual thing where people will equate "how things work in windows" with "correct" or "easy". There are paradigm shifts that, once understood, change how things a seen significantly.

Your situation here then it old hardware using old technologies and the likes, it's not new kit with new software, hardly a "typical" situation. a modern distro, say, Mint 16, would probably bring up that old laptop just fine. But sure, there is always room for exceptions, like everywhere.
 
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Old 04-10-2014, 07:42 AM   #7
edbarx
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If installing drivers in Windows is so easy, why don't you try to install Windows 8? I am sure, it will fail miserably. At least, GNU/Linux gives you a wide range of diverse distributions from which you can choose one that is specifically designed to work on older hardware.

I can understand your frustration with GNU/Linux. While Windows gives you prescribed 'solutions' of which you have only cosmetic choice, GNU/Linux places you in a huge mall where choice and user freedom excel.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 07:46 AM   #8
fogpipe
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To paraphrase the Ralph's Grocery slogan, "If its not already in the kernel, you can probably get along without it".

In cases where you would rather use a proprietary driver, its install routine is at least partly up to the vendor. The nvidia driver for instance, is pretty easy to install with an ncurses interface, but i suppose if there were demand for it they might provide a gtk or qt interface to make it look more windows like, but apparently not enough people care about it for nvidia to bother with it. I dont.

Last edited by fogpipe; 04-10-2014 at 07:48 AM.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 07:47 AM   #9
TroN-0074
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every OS will required to download and ISO image to fully install in a computer, even Android requires you to download a zip file.
If you are having problem with hardware not detected you should try a newer version of the OS you want to install. In your case Ubuntu which 10.04 has been out of order for a while now. download 13.10 version and you will noticed the difference.

I would suggest you to go with a lite version like Xubuntu 13.04 or Lubuntu 13.04 for better performance
you can also try a lite weight version of Linux Mint like Linux Mint Xfce.

Really trying to help here with this post. Wish you best luck.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 08:57 AM   #10
edbarx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acid_kewpie View Post
Oh Tucows, how I miss you....
Are you trying to bully me into oblivion, as this is unexpected, especially, from a moderator? I excuse myself if my writing style is not perfect, but you have to bear in mind, that not everyone is natively English speaking.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 09:04 AM   #11
acid_kewpie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edbarx View Post
Are you trying to bully me into oblivion, as this is unexpected, especially, from a moderator? I excuse myself if my writing style is not perfect, but you have to bear in mind, that not everyone is natively English speaking.
Erm, no, I was making a joke with you about when I used to ahve to go find downloads on dodgy third party sites like tucows.com
 
Old 04-10-2014, 09:58 AM   #12
dolphin_oracle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galane View Post
This is an old MPC TranSport GX3 laptop with a Radeon 7500 Mobility GPU, which Ubuntu 10.04 LTS completely failed to properly detect and setup the driver for.

I spent a bunch of time searching the web and trying various things that were supposed to work, but never would Ubuntu budge from "unkown" on the video device. Lots and lots of time in a terminal window. Not what I'd call "simple", when a single download all packaged up with everything it needs to WORK would be far easier.

I was reinstalling XP on another old computer (yes, after April 8th but that's what its owner wants) and needed to put the SATA driver on a floppy for XP to load during setup.

Well, this old laptop is the only other system I have operational with a floppy drive, so I figure I'll just pop in the driver CD and a floppy and copy the files over. Nope. Nuh-uh! Even though Ubuntu installed floppy support, actually using floppy disks is disabled by default. More web searching, more time spent in terminal that shouldn't have been needed. At least the fix for that issue worked.

If the open source Radeon driver can be made to work on this old laptop, I'll upgrade it to a bigger, faster hard drive (it's a molasses slow 4,200 RPM 40 gig) and max the RAM to a gig. Then it'll be decently useful again.

I've been using computers for 31 years, so I have much experience with lots of difficult and recalcitrant and just plain stupidly coded software, and with a great deal of software that really does work exactly how it should. No need to get all bent out of shape and snippy when anyone dares to point out a few rough edges in your favorite.
With respect (and I agree with many of your points concerning video driver installation), you may want to try antix. antiX in particular is geared toward older hardware. I've got a sony 900mhz laptop with a 15gb hard drive floppy and cd. weighs about a million pounds . and with an older radeon mobility part. The latest antiX works pretty good on it. You can try a liveCD to see it it detects your video card correctly, and that way you don't hose your current installation. I wouldn't hold my breath for ubuntu to truly support older hardware OOTB. Its not their mission.

The trick with downloading drivers and installing them, is that in fact gui tools often work. but the manufacturers need to support the driver and package type for each distribution, so usually they go with the lowest common denominator (the command line, which is generally speaking the same everywhere). antiX also includes a script called smxi that while command line driven, is actually a series of menus to do all sort of things, including get your video driver installation done. and you don't have to download the driver ahead of time, smxi handles that for you.

Currently my hardware is completely supported by the linux kernel, no driver installs necessary. This is such a change from even 10 years ago when I was still compiling my wireless drivers from source. Can't get much easier that that. I use a handmedown laptop, and got lucky that way (intel parts are well supported).

Last edited by dolphin_oracle; 04-10-2014 at 10:03 AM.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 12:43 PM   #13
DavidMcCann
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galane View Post
This is an old MPC TranSport GX3 laptop with a Radeon 7500 Mobility GPU, which Ubuntu 10.04 LTS completely failed to properly detect and setup the driver for.
There's an old story about an Irishman asked for directions who replies "Well, I wouldn't start from here..." In that spirit, I'd say "Well, I wouldn't put Ubuntu on an old computer." You're lucky the video chip wasn't an old Intel one: in that case, Ubuntu wouldn't even have installed.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 06:34 PM   #14
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galane View Post
This is an old MPC TranSport GX3 laptop with a Radeon 7500 Mobility GPU
The 7500M is out of support for years now, you won't get proprietary driver for any still supported OS for this hardware.
Quote:
which Ubuntu 10.04 LTS completely failed to properly detect and setup the driver for.
Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is only supported on servers, on desktops/laptops it is not supported anymore. Also, you will likely get much better results with a newer (and more lightweight) OS, since AMD has done a ton of work on the free drivers in the last four years. I would recommend to use the latest version of a distribution meant for older computers, maybe antiX, Vector Lite or Lubuntu.
 
Old 04-10-2014, 07:11 PM   #15
suicidaleggroll
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The easiest driver is the one you don't have to install, and Linux is and continues to be much better in that regard than Windows has ever been.

I can't remember the last time I set up a Windows machine and didn't need to install some 3rd party driver off of the web to support some basic hardware.

I also can't remember the last time I set up a Linux machine and did need to install a 3rd party driver to support anything.
 
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