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Old 11-12-2007, 04:51 PM   #1
Registered: Mar 2001
Location: Manchester UK
Distribution: Mainly Fedora
Posts: 496

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Nearly lost the plot

Hello all

I first started using Linux in 2001 and was something of a regular contributor to these forums. Life has moved on, and I am now more interested in classic cars than computers nowadays. However I still have more computers than I need - a dual Opteron 280 desktop, dual opteron 242 server, a dual xeon 2.2 HP workstation, a quad Sun e420r, a dual P3 proliant, 3 laptops, the list goes on. I am also providing support to a collection of friends and relatives who think fixing their virus encrusted PC means a phone call. Anyway I digress.

In 2001 I spent two weeks getting a netgear NIC working in RedHat 7, that was the way it was back then. I quite enjoyed the challenge, and when it worked, it stayed working. That was how we did things then.

My trusty old thinkpad has been running Fedora 7, and I had wifi working: used madwifi, and had to arse around quite a lot to get it right, but once it was working, it worked. Ony with wep, but better than nothing. That was how we do it nowadays.

Then some bugger decided to stick an atheros driver in the kernel. Without asking specifically if I wanted to completely break my wifi, the kernel got yummed, and it stopped working.

I fiddled for an evening or two, but managed to get wifi to work once, without any encryption at all. My Wife (didn't have one in 2001 when I spent all that time on one NIC), complained - so I booted XP on my ferrari laptop, and when she borrowed that I fired up the vista machine I bought whilst on holiday and the thinkpad HDD died when I still needed a PC. Linux user no more - main PC is powered down as the room is becoming a nursery.

I did roll back the kernel, blacklisted the ath5k module, installed wpa_supplicant, fiddled for another evening. Tried fedora 8, wasted more time.

I must say if I had a restore CD for this thinkpad it would be back to XP, but the day was saved by Ubuntu Gutsy. I fired up the alternative install CD - standard did something strange to X, configured wifi complete with WPA encryption, which I had totally failed to set up in fedora, and it WORKS.

So good work ubuntu, poor show fedora, but there's a bigger point.

I have been a Linux user for 6 years, installed on everything from a Sun pizzabox to a Macbook, and never been beaten before. Wireless is one of those things that should just bloody work, and if it doesn't, it is a showstopper. If I as a semi advanced (ex semi-pro) Linux user can't get it to work, how can we expect standard windoze user types to consider changing if basic stuff doesn't work out of the box? I remember years ago Finegan was the wireless guru, could explain what to do, and usually got things working after a dozen forum posts, but Linux should have progressed by now.

I often find myself wishing for a distro with everything just working - java, web plugins, mp3, printers, wifi etc. I am trying Ubuntu now - maybe that's it. If not does it exist, can it exist, how much does somebody want me to pay for it to JUST BLOODY WORK???

Old 11-12-2007, 05:40 PM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: N'rn WI -- USA
Distribution: Kubuntu 8.04, ClarkConnect 4
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Originally Posted by drjimstuckinwin View Post
...Wireless is one of those things that should just bloody work...
Talk to the hardware manufacturers who aren't releasing details on their network cards. Believe me, the kernel dev's are doing everything they can to make the hardware work. Without the specs and commands, they're trying to piece together an engine in the dark from a pile of unknown parts while wearing mittens, and somebody keeps moving the pieces around on them.
Old 11-12-2007, 05:45 PM   #3
Registered: Mar 2001
Location: Manchester UK
Distribution: Mainly Fedora
Posts: 496

Original Poster
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Good point, but this is an IBM thinkpad T40 with an atheros card - hardly bleeding edge. Madwif worked, and the kernel broke it.

Not trying to start a flame war, but it's wrong when something that a semi expert can get working suddenly breaks and can't be fixed. I know that it probably could be fixed, just not easily, quickly or without specialist knowledge!

Old 11-12-2007, 05:50 PM   #4
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Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Nottingham, UK
Distribution: Mageia 6, KDE Neon
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I can fully understand your frustration, but you forget that it's not GNU/Linux's fault that these things do not just simply 'work out of the box'.

Perhaps if vendors would co-operate more and give access to source codes etc, then we would not have to resort to other means fair or foul to provide some kind of functionality.

It goes without saying, the more cutting edge the peripheral/hardware, the less likely it is to work straight away.

The tide is changing (somewhat slowly), there are more than a few vendors/supermarket chains now selling GNU/Linux pre-installed pc's and laptops and there are also a few hardware vendors that provide GNU/Linux drivers for their products.

For me the goal of GNU/Linux is not to primarily entice others away from other platforms, it's to provide an alternative, it's to give back to you the user total control and ownership of the operating system and it's software.

As difficult and frustrating things can be there will always be newbies dipping their toes into GNU/Linux, some will stay the course and some will give up and wait until things have moved on further before giving it another shot.

PS I agree and the 'breakage' issue, to me this only serves to underpin the importance of users with older/newer hardware taking part in the testing of release candidates, and hopefully we can minimise the breaking when other features are introduced.

Last edited by {BBI}Nexus{BBI}; 11-12-2007 at 05:54 PM.


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