[ubuntu-uk] wifi mini-survey

Mac Ammonius.Grammaticus at googlemail.com
Sun Nov 11 18:08:06 GMT 2007

Alan Pope wrote:
> Hi Mac,
> On Sun, 2007-11-11 at 08:01 +0000, Mac wrote:
>> feels more 
>> like the relative level of laptop wifi use generally, if the content of 
>> the forums is any guide to a guestimate (not that my track record with 
>> guestimates is very impressive).
> Depends who you ask. Last week at UDS I'd say wifi usage amongst
> delegates was nearer 90+%
>> 	If 10%-15% is about right, I wonder whether it goes some way to 
>> explaining why the kernel developers are, historically, perhaps a bit 
>> less bothered about wifi support:
> They are?
> Is it even fair to point the finger at the kernel developers for what is
> essentially a driver support problem from hardware manufacturers. Many
> wifi chipset vendors are notoriously bad at providing specifications for
> their kit to driver authors. 
>>   not enough people affected;  not a 
>> crippling issue for the kernel.
> I'd bet a significant chunk of kernel devs use wifi in some way or
> other.
>> 	Let's hope the open wifi drivers project will make this area a bit easier.
> I'd spend more time petitioning the hardware vendors myself. Given they
> make the hardware, and often write drivers for other operating systems,
> and of course have access to the specs. They're the best people to solve
> this issue.
> Of course the other thing to do is stop buying hardware that isn't
> supported. One reason I bought the laptop I did is because the wifi is
> supported out of the box on linux.
> Cheers,
> Al.

Al >>> Pace!  You're quite right:  the problem does originate with the 
hardware manufacturers;  and it is not entirely fair to carp at the 
kernel developers.  It's just that the developers have done such a great 
job with cd/dvd drives, printers and all manner of other bits and pieces 
that I have such faith that they could fix the wifi if they really put 
their minds to it.  But that may just represent my ignorance about how 
hard that would be to do in practice.

Forgive me if I don't have much hope about petitioning the 
manufacturers.  I've just tried pressing TomTom about the fact that 
although their GO hardware runs entirely on GNU/linux software, they 
only offer Windows and Mac versions of their updating software.  They 
advised me to run the Windows version and update that way!  :-(

I do try to buy hardware that's supported out of the box on linux - it's 
just that I've found it immensely difficult to identify particular 
PCMCIA cards, for example, with enough accurate and clear detail (e.g. 
name and model number of current stock) to look one up on DABS or 
Amazon, and order it with confidence.

However, I must confess that I've just installed Dapper on my wife's old 
laptop, which has a broken wired NIC, shoved a new Netgear WG511T PCMCIA 
card into the slot, booted it, and connected instantly.

And thanks for your correction to my impressions of how widespread the 
use of wifi might be.  Revived my hope!



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