Device Support Ubuntu: Gutsy Gibbon…

Hey folks, so I don’t know how many of you lovely happy people have been running the latest development version of Ubuntu, codenamed Gutsy Gibbon.  Gosh, I’ve been running it since its second week in existence, and I must say I’m well pleased.
One of the first thing I noticed when I switched over was that Gutsy would suspend and resume again (wait until later in this post to see why it broke), and the Broadcom support was better.  The new kernel in Gutsy is phenomenal, much respect to the ubuntu-kernel folks.
There have been problems, however.  For me though, most of the problems are directly related to the evil (yup, you saw it, I said the “E” word) Broadcom and ATI devices that are holding me back.  The Broadcom support, while better is not as good as it could be.  When the CPU takes a heavy load, the Broadcom support drops out.  I don’t hardly blame the kernel hackers or Broadcom teams for this, I blame Broadcom for not giving me Free Software drivers that work.  So I’ve been back to using LinuxAnt DriverLoader (more on DriverLoader later).  The ATI card has been causing some strange problems, too.  Since I don’t like the random crashes and lockups caused by the proprietary drivers for the card, I stick to the xorg drivers.  The xorg drivers do work, but they are limited, and every once in a while something will cause the X server to blow up.  Gnash is probably the king of blowing up my X server right now.
So, DriverLoader does a great job of getting my card to work.  It is proprietary filth, so I must advise that you use it as your last resort, but it does work.  It does also break things.  For those of you not familiar with DriverLoader, it is very similar to ndiswrapper.  DriverLoader uses the windows drivers for your wireless device and this has a couple side effects.  One of the side effects is packet loss.  While using DriverLoader, I have never had a minute go by without packet loss.  It has never happened.  DriverLoader also breaks suspend/resume functionality.   Under Edgy some of this was better, but DriverLoader folks haven’t released a fixed version for 2.6.22 yet.  I’m buying a new Ubuntu Dell, so this will hopefully be a non-issue when this current laptop becomes a nice little file-server. These 2 100GB disks should be well utilized then.
LIRC (Linux Infrared Remote Control, IIRC) was a pleasant surprise if I do say so myself.  It was a little tricky to install, and I do suggest that it be packaged in a OOTB installing fashion, or at least have someone fix the dependencies for the source package (linux-source is required, but not a dependency in the package).  But I like to use my Media Center remote that came with this abomination of a laptop to control my music while I work.  It makes working in a home office much easier.  LIRC support is just fantastic.
Support for my Palm Treo 700p seems to be reduced with the new version of opensync that came out, but I think that’s because my phone connects strangely.  I’ve been talking to the kpilot folks to get that sorted.
So if you have a strange device support story you’d like to share, please do share 🙂
Also, let us remember that Gutsy Gibbon is still to be considered unstable as it is a development release (currently my OpenOffice.org is borked), so be sure you’re willing to accept some risk before trying it.

2 Replies to “Device Support Ubuntu: Gutsy Gibbon…”

  1. A fair question. I’ve had a rough time getting ndiswrapper working on amd64. Either way, I’d prefer not to have to screw around with windows drivers regardless of what I’m using to interface with them. It’s a scary thing that we trust proprietary software developers to write code that we let sit in kernel space.

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