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(?) Linux-friendly hardware

From Sluggo

Answered By: Jimmy O'Regan, John Karns, Thomas Adam, Karl-Heinz Herrmann, Ben Okopnik

Is there a FAQ somewhere of hardware manufacturers' track records regarding open specs and cooperating with free software?

I.e., the Tux-friendly seal of approval. Not for things that are just passively compatible with Linux, but for manufacturers who take steps to cooperate.

I can see a possible logo, although it's not quite the right message:

[picture of Tux, with a gun hanging on the side. "Cooperate, or the penguin gets it"]

If not, it would be good to have one in LG, as a way to reward good manufacturers and punish bad ones. I'll write it up if people can send me facts and links. Off the top of my head...


(not much to say; I think they're as open as we can expect)


(what issues here? flashable under Linux? is the open BIOS project still active?)

LinuxBIOS (http://www.linuxbios.org) seems to be under relatively active development. Their status page (http://www.linuxbios.org/status/index.html) is pretty impressive.
(LinuxBIOS is a port of Linux that runs in place of a BIOS. It's mainly used in clusters, and boasts a record boot time of 3 seconds). -- Jimmy

(?) VIDEO:

I think Matrox has been cooperative. nVIDIA has their notorious binary drivers.

(!) [Heather] ATI has been somewhat cooperative, in that they allow information out after their boards are old enough. This is decent but I've encountered their proprietary driver not supporting an old enough board while the X11 community still hadn't gotten the open source support filled in, reducing one to raw VESA support. Wah. Temporary problem, timing just sucked is all.


I think Epson has been cooperative, but many Canon printers are Windows only. Lexmark had their offensive DMCA clause for toner cartridges.

(!) [Thomas]
> PRINTERS --  Lexmark had their
  ^^^^^^^^     ^^^^^^^
Nah... I just don't see how those two are related. :P
(!) [Karl-Heinz] Well -- I like my Optra E312. speeks PCL and Postscript. The latter better then some monster-printers of varying manufacurers I've seen in offices.

(?) CD/DVD:

could be more open but that's more of a legal issue and pressure from Hollywood than of manufacturers stonewalling.


winmodems bad. Is there a software-only modem for Linux? My friends with Macs like to gloat about their software modems, although the counterargument was why distract your main CPU when you can have a dedicated chip doing the work.

(!) [Jimmy] There is support for an IBM softmodem in the kernel, and there was a project to get some Lucent modems working, though that pretty much fell by the wayside. There is a software modem available, though it only goes as far as 28.8 (the author shifted focus to other nifty things like tcc, qemu, and ffmpeg).
(!) [John] The lucent modem / Linux situation seems to parallel that of the nVidia graphics cards, in that proprietary binary modules link to the kernel using the same or similar methods. Although hardware UART modems will undoubtedly remain preferrable for Linux users, I've always had pretty good luck with the Lucent modems. As winmodems go, they're probably one of the easier varieties to deal with. Not to say that they won't be a pain when you find yourself dealing with a combination of kernel and libgcc for which they haven't issued an update, but for me, that's happened only once in the 8 yrs or so that I've been dealing with them.
(!) [Jimmy] No, there actually is some open source software that accesses Lucent modems from user-space. It doesn't work as a modem, but the author just wanted to be able to use it as a phone. Someone else tried to couple that work with the software modem I mentioned, but I don't know if it works at all.
There hasn't really been any work done in this area for years though.
Sigh I'll hunt through my jungle of bookmarks
LinModem: http://fabrice.bellard.free.fr/linmodem.html (last updated in 1999)
(!) [Heather] The reason that hasn't been notable work on a true softmodem for Linux is because right around the time it was getting some progress, the genius who was making the progress, Tony Fisher, died of cancer -- a terrible loss apparently for linguistics fans as well. See http://linmodems.org and search downward for "generic modem". The university had great respect for him and still maintains the software link, so what he had is downloadable at: http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~fisher/modem


What's done:
  • V34 modulator (sampling rate of 8000 Hz, handle all the symbol rate, carrier and trellis combinaisons).
  • V34 demodulator (no echo cancellor yet, and startup phases not complete).
  • Algebraic part of V90.
  • DTMF dialing/receive.
  • V8 protocol.
  • V21 modulation & demodulation
  • V23 modulation & demodulation
  • sample code to test the protocol.
  • sample code to test V21, V22, V23, V34 and V90 independently from the modem.
  • a basic phone line simulator (with echos & typical line amplitude/phase distortion).
  • an X11 interface.
  • soundcard interface.
  • AT command parser & sample tty simulator.
  • asynchronous protocol.


LTModem: http://www.close.u-net.com/ltmodem.html (Last modified: Sat Sep 30 22:40:31 BST 2000)


The current functionality (0.9.9) is:
Finds a Lucent PCI winmodem and reports information on this.
Goes offhook and detects the dial tone.
Dials using pulses or dtmf. Here in the UK the dtmf dialling works, you can hear the call being answered.
Try "ltmodem -d 011223344" (replace 011223344 with the number of your favourite ISP) and listen to the modem at the other end answering the call!
Detects the answer tone of the phone at the other end, or busy tone if it is engaged.
Picks up incomming calls.
Command line mode allows control of modem interactively or via a script file.
Includes fixes for Pavel's voice stuff, just need some more detailed instructions on how to use it! This includes turning you computer into an expensive telephone and full duplex voice transmission.
Reads ROM check sum and does basic I/O for DSP RAM.
Monitors/Sets either data in the PCI registers or at the I/O ports, monitoring at configured intervals.


Pavel Machek (the Pavel mentioned earlier) is also one of the primary authors of Gnokii.


(!) [Ben] Just saw something related to Mike's earlier question about hardware compatibility:
Being realistic about Linux hardware compatibility By: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

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Published in issue 110 of Linux Gazette January 2005

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