Standardised Hardware Support Spec - Please Review

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Fri Apr 6 13:03:20 UTC 2007

On Fri, Apr 06, 2007 at 08:56:32AM +0100, Alex Jones wrote:
> On Thu, 2007-04-05 at 21:39 +0100, Matt Zimmerman wrote:
> > On Thu, Apr 05, 2007 at 09:24:19PM +0100, Alex Jones wrote:
> > > (As a side thought, I'm not sure what constitutes "common" hardware, but
> > > I for one don't know a single person who owns a Palm device.)
> > 
> > I can see two or three Treos from here.  Whether they work with gnome-pilot
> > is another story, but if gnome-pilot doesn't work with a significant share
> > of current devices, the solution would be to remove it from the default
> > install, not add a new application to help the user remove it.
> You wouldn't necessarily /need/ a new application to help the user
> remove it if it was packaged like I am suggesting. You'd remove the HSP
> and the installed and unneeded support packages could be apt-get
> autoremove'd. Sorted.

Your proposal seemed to call for one: "something not too unlike the
Restricted Drivers manager".  Similarly, I don't see how a new set of
metapackages for every supported device (even if that were possible) helps
to simplify this.

If I'm bothered by the fact that there's a "PalmOS Devices" application in
my menu which I don't expect to need, I can use Add/Remove to find and
remove it easily, and its dependencies will be appropriately marked for
removal (though we don't yet clean those up automatically).  Likewise for
hplip, though its menu entry isn't even displayed by default.

> As it happens, all of this stuff is just dependency of ubuntu-desktop,
> meaning that it all gets reinstalled every time I do a distribution
> upgrade. *Groan*.

The solution to *that* problem is to change it from a Depends to a
Recommends in the desktop seed.  This is already the case for hplip in
Feisty, and the same can be done for gnome-pilot for Feisty+1 (we're too
close to release to make this sort of change for Feisty).  This is very easy
to do.

> I've noticed that in my restricted drivers manager, it has chosen to
> install "Lucent/Agere lindmodem controller driver". I didn't even think
> I had a modem, and even if I did, I certainly have zero use for it.
> What's the point in knowingly "infecting" my system with closed-source
> kernel modules when you don't even know if I want it?

The point is that you don't have to care unless you're interested.  Most
users don't want to think about installing drivers; they just want their
hardware to work.

Linux includes hundreds of device drivers, and although most users only
require a small number of these, and some of them are used only by a very
few users, we bundle as many as we can.  The disk space they consume is a
trivial concern compared to enabling hardware out of the box.

 - mdz

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