Quote of the week
Posted Oct 15, 2006 12:04 UTC (Sun) by tlw
In reply to: Quote of the week
Parent article: Quote of the week
> One model on the shelf had a proud penguin sticker
> just beside the Works-with-Windows one.
Unfortunately it looks like I'm going to have to un-make your day. :-)
First of all there is no governing body (that I am aware of) which tracks the use of any such "works-with-linux" logos or statements. Vendors are therefore free to make any such claim and slap as many penguin logos on a product without any sort of outside confirmation, testing, or clarification.
In order to put a "works-with-windows" logo or statement on a product, the vendor must download a huge test-bench application, run it, and submit the results to Microsoft. This suite attempts to test the device in many different situations such as high-load, and different sleep states. There are different tests for video cards, printers, hard-drives, and so on. Only after the results have been confirmed can a company make any such claim. Obviously this system has many flaws too, but for some people is slighly more reassuring than taking the vendor's word; the vendor is in a conflict of interest here.
Secondly, just because the vendor claims a product works with Linux does not mean it works with your Linux setup or the one you intend to use with their product. It just means the vendor allegedly got this product to work with whatever version of Linux they had floating around the shop internally.
Have you actually ever bought a product with a penguin logo thinking that it would work on your Linux setup? Don't be surprised if you should open the packaging and find a little slip of paper that says in order to make this device work on Linux you have to compile an out-of-tree module found on the CD yourself. Oh yea, the module was written against 2.4.15, and the driver code is just a wrapper which loads a binary blob... and that's if you're lucky. Sometimes all you get is a URL to an un-named IP address where you'll find a binary module quietly whispering "install me, I dare you, I promise I won't do anything naughty".
But hey, they got it working with 2.4.15 so they put a penguin on the box. Good luck getting it to work with the SMP system you bought last week running the latest Linux kernel!
Putting a penguin on a box means nothing because nobody's regulating it. The presence of the penguin has no implied legal meaning or promise. It can mean everything from "there is an in-kernel open-source driver which is actively maintained for this product" to "we haven't even bothered to see if it works with any known flavour of Linux". It's true! If some bean-counter told the vendor they could improve sales 10% by putting a penguin logo on the box the vendor's first question is: "How much does it cost to put that logo on the box?". The answer would be: "Nothing. There are no test suites to pass, no governing body to pay dues to, and no legally implied meaning." How many sleepness nights do you think the vendor will endure?
Who knows, maybe some day the penguin logo on vendor's boxes will become such a sham the Linux community will be forced to regulate it in order to head-off the negative publicity generated by hundreds of vendors shamelessly slapping penguin logos on anything they sell and the resulting disappointed Mom&Pop Linux users suddenly finding themselves with a product they've paid lots of money for but can't get working until they figure out how to compile and load a kernel module.
to post comments)