Re: !!WARNING!! USR 33.6
Yes, stay away from Win-anything.
I already cover this in the installation document, excerpted below.
A disturbing trend is the proliferation of "Windows" modems and
printers. In some cases these are specially designed to be operated by
the Microsoft Windows operating system and bear the legend "WinModem" or
"Made expecially for Windows-based computers". This is generally done by
removing the embedded processors of the hardware and shifting the work
they do over to a Windows driver that is run by your computer's main
CPU. This strategy makes the hardware less expensive, but the savings
are often not passed on to the user and this hardware may even be more
expensive than equivalent devices that retain their embedded
You should avoid Windows-specific hardware for two reasons. The first
is that the manufacturers do not generally make the resources
available to write a Linux driver. Generally, the hardware and
software interface to the device is proprietary, and documentation is
not available without a non-disclosure agreement, if it is available
at all. This precludes its being used for free software, since free
software writers disclose the source code of their programs. The
second reason is that when devices like these have had their embedded
processors removed, the operating system must perform the work of the
embedded processors, often at real-time priority, and thus the CPU is
not available to run your programs while it is driving these devices.
Since the typical Windows user does not multi-process as intensively
as a Linux user, the manufacturers hope that the Windows user simply
won't notice the burden this hardware places on their CPU. However,
any multi-processing operating system, even Windows 95 or NT, is
degraded when peripheral manufacturers skimp on the embedded
processing power of their hardware.
You can help this situation by encouraging these manufacturers to
release the documentation and other resources necessary for us to
program their hardware, but the best strategy is simply to avoid this
sort of hardware until it is listed as working in the Linux Hardware
Other Closed Hardware
Some hardware manufacturers simply won't tell us how to write drivers
for their hardware, or they won't allow us access to the documentation
without a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent us from
releasing the Linux source code. One example is the IBM laptop DSP
sound system used in recent ThinkPad systems - some of these systems
also couple the sound system to the modem. Since we haven't been
granted access to the documentation on these devices, they simply
won't work under Linux. You can help by asking the manufacturers of
such hardware to release the documentation. If enough people ask, they
will realize that Linux is an important market. The Linux Hardware
Compatibility HOWTO provides information about what devices currently
have Linux drivers.
Bruce Perens K6BP Bruce@Pixar.com 510-215-3502
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