Emulating Linux’s Hardware Support in Windows April 24, 2006Posted by Carthik in ubuntu.
Many people complain, from time to time about how Linux is poor when it comes to supporting the variety of hardware that is available today. I beg to differ — I think Ubuntu, for one does an outstanding job when compared to Windows XP.
Your standard Windows XP cd does not come with the drivers for your devices. The drivers are usually in the “Installation CDs” that you get with the devices, which you sooner or later misplace. Windows does not have to worry about supporting the variety of hardware out there. The manufacturers do the device drivers themselves.
Ubuntu, on the other hand, has to provide device drivers for all known devices from the many different manufacturers. What’s worse, unlike in the Windows world, Linux users have to rely upon Linux developers to write the device drivers (more often than not).
Here’s the kicker – The Ubuntu install CD (just one cd) has to provide all of those drivers. Windows cannot begin to try to provide the device drivers on a single CD! The closest I have found to a collection of device drivers for Windows XP on cds is the DriverPacks.net project. You will need a total of 9 or more CDs to get all (or most) of the device drivers for the different devices for Windows.
Linux distros often pull off the trick of supporting different kinds of devices by using a common base that works for most manufacturers, with special tweaks/optimizations for the variants. Sometimes variants need a seperate driver, too.
So the next time you want to curse Ubuntu for not figuring out how to make your device work, think of the extra effort involved for the developers (who mostly don’t get paid to do the work they do) who write the drivers, and the OS team that puts together everything to fit on a single CD.
I am willing to spend some extra time to achieve any “extra” features I want beyond that provided by default. It is up to me to go that last foot, when it comes to making the device work perfect. Each time I tweak some setting (like those for my touchpad for example) to make it work better, I get a warm glow. All things are possible in a free world, sometimes things that are not possible in a world where I have to pay. For example, I can drag my finger down the right side of my touchpad to scroll down a page – something I was unable to do in Windows, even with the drivers installed by the manufacturer of my laptop.
Over the year I have been using Ubuntu, I have been positively amazed at the effort that goes into providing me with a free, extremely stable, usable system. I hope you can appreciate the positive differences between Windows and Linux better as time passes.