When it come to any OS that’s *nix-based, there’s a lot I don’t complain about compatibility-wise due to the proprietary nature of a lot of computer hardware.
For example, if I had a Microsoft wireless keyboard that had Windows-only features on it and it just would not work under Linux, would I get upset about this? Not at all. It’s a proprietary keyboard (custom “Windows only” keys) meant for a proprietary operating system (Windows) using proprietary software (Windows drivers and control software) – and I personally feel that keyboards so unbelievably proprietary like that completely suck anyway because they’re just too “tied” to a particular OS.
Aside from keyboards, I’m referring to any proprietary hardware that doesn’t “play nice” with *nix. Mice, tablets, webcams, you name it. Tons of it is tacked as Windows-Windows-Windows only. Very annoying to say the least. I don’t blame *nix for lack of support in that respect because it’s the industry itself that’s tying the hands, not the OS developers.
However, hardware that isn’t proprietary to an OS (usually) are standard wireless networking cards. I say “standard” because the USB-based ones can prove to be somewhat of a pain to get working. Yes, there is support for them but you have to be really particular about which one you buy to make sure it would actually work.
But even if you’re using a standard card, compatibility with a *nix-based OS is somewhat limited, i.e. you really don’t have that many choices as far as something that “absolutely” works under *nix. There are some that work wonderfully (like IntelPROsets), yes, but not enough. The list is still too short.
It honestly confuses me that of all the computer hardware *nix should be supporting very actively, wouldn’t it make sense to have wireless networking card compatibility as a really high priority for more makes/models?
Consider this: A laptop that can’t connect wirelessly to a network these days is more or less worthless because it drastically takes away a ton of the portable nature of the unit. Who wants to tether a laptop with a network cable? I certainly don’t.
Let’s say the laptop you have has a built-in wireless card that *nix won’t support for whatever reason. Either the driver doesn’t exist currently or the existing driver doesn’t fully support it. Now you’re forced to tack on a cheesy USB-based wireless stick just to connect to a wireless network because you have no other option. You have to deal with this annoying piece of hardware sticking out of the side or the back every time you want to connect wirelessly to anywhere. Furthermore you have to carry the thing around wherever you go just to connect to a wireless network.
This is not exactly convenient.
From here I make a call to *nix driver programmers: We need more wireless card support. Yes, I do understand that there are some that are too proprietary to write drivers for, but a big chunk of them aren’t so tied to an OS that it would be impossible to write something that’s at least compatible (at least compatible enough for Wireless-G WPA2 connectivity?)
For those that missed the link above and are shopping around for a wireless solution that will work with Ubuntu (or assumedly any Debian-based Linux) specifically, see this. Look for the ones marked with a 4 or 5 – those are the best ones. And bear in mind there are 4 pages of results.
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