Standardised Hardware Support Spec - Please Review

Alex Jones alex at
Fri Apr 6 13:36:50 UTC 2007

On Fri, 2007-04-06 at 14:03 +0100, Matt Zimmerman wrote:
> > 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".

Right, but then you don't /need/ gnome-app-install. It's useful, but you
can live without it. It's a tool that interfaces with the package
manager for a specific purpose, the same way that update-manager deals
with updating system packages, restricted-manager deals with restricted
driver packages and a hypothetical hardware-support-manager deals with

> Similarly, I don't see how a new set of
> metapackages for every supported device (even if that were possible) helps
> to simplify this.

You say that as if it isn't possible. Why?

And I suggest it helps to simplify this because currently if I want to
install an exotic piece of hardware that isn't supported out of the box,
I may have to chase down several different packages if there isn't a
metapackage to bring it all together for me.

If all of the hardware in the world was supported in Ubuntu (even if
that were possible :P), by both Linux kernel modules, and by the huge
number of userspace services and configuration tools required (/further/
padding out the default System Preferences menu), then no, this wouldn't
be an issue. I leave it to anyone who reads this to decide if it is an
issue or not.

> 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.

Right, but these are just sanding over the problem of not having
organised hardware support.

> > 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.

I still don't understand why you use this argument as a case AGAINST
this specification. I am merely suggesting that we formalise and
reorganise the hardware support policy -- the same myriad of devices can
be supported out of the box if you so desire. If I'm missing the point,
please elaborate.


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