GPL-only symbols and ndiswrapper
Posted Oct 25, 2006 23:03 UTC (Wed) by gmaxwell
In reply to: GPL-only symbols and ndiswrapper
Parent article: GPL-only symbols and ndiswrapper
>> are trying to use hardware for which there currently exists free drivers
>I didn't realize that, though personally I haven't had to use ndiswrapper yet.
>I guess most people expect that if a free driver was available, it would be autodetected. From a user's perspective, downloading a free but beta driver from sourceforge (because it isn't included in the distribution) is probably worse than using ndiswrapper, which happens to be included in the distribution (and they already have the Windows driver because they are probably dual booting).
Some drivers (Intel is the perfect example) will not grant permission for third parties to distribute their firmware, so they can't be made to work automatically.
But yes, in some cases it's a free beta driver... yes, NDIS wrapper might be easier once (although you learn a bad habbit that will be unneeded later, you lose support, and you introduce weird bugs (which NDISwrappered drivers do .. It's not unfounded FUD that I'm spreading :))), but if you want to go for the easiest solution, we're back to "buy a system preloaded with the OS you want" as the easiest.
>I don't think this is a reasonable option, except for geeks and true enthusiasts. While I personally would do that, I wouldn't dare recommend it to anybody who asks me for help with their laptop. I especially wouldn't recommend it if their laptop happened to be working one hour ago, until they upgraded their kernel.
Upgrade the mini-pci card themselves? Perhaps not (although it is userservicable on most laptops)... but they could have it done. I think you over estimate the prospects of someone laughing about it, often in the windows world people have to pay for silly solutions. In any case, it's not as simple as "modify two lines" ... Ndiswrapper is a hack of a solution and I think most people can appricate "make it work with duct tape" vs "spend $50 and do it right".
> While that is true, not all people are using Linux with the idea of testing it and putting up with problems. If the free driver is in any way less functional than the NDIS one, they have zero incentive of using it.
In the case of the intel drivers the NDIS driver is less functional, yet people are using it. Generally the NDIS drivers have poor integration.
>The best option is for as many people as possible to use Linux (and to want to use it) and to have it as functional as possible. Then those people are more likely to buy Linux-compliant hardware next time.
Of course, if the drivers compromise the stability of their systems, they may not have any reason to continue to use Linux. Its a fine line.
>That is an excellent question. Why not run Linux in VMWare under Windows ? I really don't know how I could explain that to my wife for example (if she knew what VMWare was). Most laptops come with Windows anyway. Why not really ?
As you said, less memory.. somewhat lower performance.. You suffer all the bugs of Windows and linux. But to hear Microsoft advocates argue, the drivers are the weakest link in Windows stability... so perhaps you're no worse off with ndiswrapper than windows + vmware.
It's a personal decision and the answer depends on what hardware you have and why you are using Linux.
In my case, the hardware I use is usually much better supported in Linux (good luck finding windows vista drivers for random SCSI controllers, T1 interface boards, 900Mhz pre-802.11 radios, etc)... and none of the software that I'm interested in is Windows only. ::shrugs::
The reality is that once you've decided that running Free Software is a non-issue for you (by adding binary nvidia drivers, ndiswrapper, etc)... And that stability/supportability isn't an issue (by running ndiswrapper with drivers outside of their intended/tested enviroment)... You might as well run Linux in VM. Nothing wrong with that.
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