What about the Linux compatible hardware market ?
Posted Dec 6, 2005 17:09 UTC (Tue) by copsewood
Parent article: Linux in a binary world... a doomsday scenario
Surely there are now enough people using Linux in the world to create a large enough market to profit those providing Linux compatible hardware ? This article investigates a risk that people will be able to get higher margins through proprietary drivers supporting proprietary features. However, most purchasers are interested in buying hardware which is cost effective, durable and reliable. This applies to the Windows related hardware market as much as Linux. How can hardware be described as reliable across a wide range of applications and in combination with a wide range of other hardware and software unless it is subject to open review and well tested ?
As Linux is relatively strong in the server market compared with the workstation market, we are more likely to see proprietary binary-only protection of hardware features in:
a. The very low cost hardware market - where reliability is traded off against cost. This happened with Winmodems, the cost cutting occuring by moving functionality previously in hardware into software. This doesn't apply to servers, because the cost of Windows licenses prevents Windows servers being low cost compared to Linux servers.
b. Hardware very specific to workstations and little used on servers, e.g. 3D graphics cards.
Having better information available for Linux-related hardware purchases is essential if the potential influence of Linux buyers on the hardware market is to be maximised. In practice I suspect that this influence is greater than the number of PCs and servers actually running Linux would suggest, because very many Windows users are likely to ask Linux users for advice on hardware purchases. E.G. it would be irresponsible for me to recommend a purchase for intended Windows-only use in respect of hardware likely to suffer poor future support and be unreliable (including on Windows) due to the hardware driver interface not being subject to open critical comment and review.
A Windows hardware recommendation is of more value to the Windows user if the latter is not permanently locked in by this recommendation to running a particular version of Windows at a particular service pack level.
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