Standardised Hardware Support Spec - Please Review

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Fri Apr 6 16:00:00 UTC 2007

On Fri, Apr 06, 2007 at 04:37:19PM +0100, Alex Jones wrote:
> On Fri, 2007-04-06 at 15:20 +0100, Matt Zimmerman wrote:
> > > > 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?
> > 
> > Because of the size and rate of change of this data.  Who would collect,
> > formalize and maintain it, and how?  Tens of thousands of devices are
> > supported by Ubuntu.
> The metapackage generation would be done by using the hardware database.
> It wouldn't be much work to add a new hardware device to the database,
> and then officially say "it is supported" in order to do a
> number_of_devices_supported++.

The hardware database does not contain information about packages, only the
hardware present in the system (and a few other bits).  It gives us an idea
of which devices are being used with Ubuntu and whether they are well

> > I don't think there is a tangible general problem to be solved here, and
> > that the issues you raise are likely to be more easily addressed directly
> > (as with gnome-pilot) rather than by new infrastructure.
> How do you address the gnome-pilot issue? Uninstall it when you /don't/
> have the hardware? Unfortunately, hal and udev don't support
> "not-plugging" yet.

By allowing the user to uninstall it if they desire, without interfering
with the metapackage infrastructure.

> > I was primarily answering the question you asked above.  The reason this
> > driver is on your system is that some users do need it, and the approach
> > we've taken in Ubuntu is to support a wide range of hardware by default.
> > This involves a tradeoff in disk space and (occasionally) a menu item, in
> > exchange for simplicity.
> I just find it a completely unintuitive pain in the butt to keep my
> Ubuntu system lean. I just want to say "I only want support for this set
> of hardware. Everything else, get out."

We're working toward an ideal of "everything simply works for as many people
as possible", while what you seem to be after is "I have exactly what I
want, no more and no less".  While these aren't necessarily in conflict, in
practice they result in different priorities for a project.  Gentoo, and
more recently rPath, are pursuing the latter approach, as is (to a lesser
extent) Debian.

 - mdz

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