Friday, May 10, 2013

Rants, Like Revenge; Are Best Served Cold.....

by +Ken Starks

I sat on this article over night and I'm glad I did.

While re-reading and editing, I realized it was probably the best decision I've made this week.

It went beyond a rant, it went beyond releasing my Inner Crybaby....

It was scalding and mean.

But I was in a scalding and mean mood.

Yesterday found me putting the final touch on equipment that will be used in a six seat computer lab here in Taylor Texas.  It will be made available for area people who  don't have a computer at home.  For the time being, we are using Edubuntu for our installs...that is until Ikey Doherty gets our Reglue Respin ready.

Because of the current setup, these computers will need to have wireless access.

OK, not a huge problem...I just need to secure wireless USB adapters or PCI cards to get it done.

Good friend and Reglue supporter  Mark Van Kinsley heard about our need and promptly shipped five mini USB adapters.  On the initial test, the indicator light came on, the Edubuntu system recognized device and it reported that my SSID was available for connection.

I watched it spin, and spin, and spin.....

And then time out.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

We've encountered this before and it's usually one of two things causing the problem.

1.  A MAC address lockout.

2.  A problem between the router and wireless device.

Since I am the administrator of the network, I realized it had to be the second choice. I ran modprobe -r iwlwifi to make sure I had the right driver loaded and then modprobe -v iwlwifi bt_coex_active=0 for a temporary fix, just to see if I could connect.

Nope.  See SSID.....

Read SSID.....

SSID no connect.

Well phooey.

Being pressed for time and knowing that the old classroom computers were due for refresh this month, I pulled some of the working PCI Netgear cards from them to put in the outgoing lab machines.

I said the working PCI Netgear cards.  

I put one of them in the first computer.  Nothing.  lspci didn't even see it.  Rebooting didn't do any good.  I tried another card.

Same thing.

After searching for over an hour, I finally found the answer tucked away in a six month-old thread discussing the kernel.

Seems that this is a problem caused by kernel regression.  Kernel regression...


These are some of the last cards manufactured before the wireless N protocol was introduced.  To double-check, I reinserted one of the cards into a classroom computer running Ubuntu 10.04.

Bingo...picked up and connected immediately.

This brought to mind something I had read earlier in the day.  An article by Katherine Noyes, posted on  The article reported on the various opinions regarding the question: 'Would You Pay for Linux?'

Most of the answers were what we'd expect from long-time Linux users, and there were a few surprises.  However, in the maelstrom, one opinion stayed true to the person answering the question.  harryfeet:

'Not Worth Anything to Me'

Last but not least, Slashdot blogger hairyfeet took the "no" answer even further.

"The current situation is a mess and therefore not worth anything to me," hairyfeet told Linux Girl. "I can take a disk with a 4-year-old driver in it, slap it into my drive and in 15 minutes the hardware is up and running.

"Can you do the same in Linux? Nope, because the driver model is set up all stupid in Linux," he said.

"So would I pay for Linux? Not unless the QA and support went WAY up, and I just don't see that happening," hairyfeet concluded. "A few companies have tried in the past, but none have been able to come close to the amount of support I get from that $80 copy of Windows Home."

"because the driver model is set up all stupid in Linux," he said."

I have to agree.

Yep, there is absolutely no excuse for perfectly good hardware and hardware drivers to be depreciated, especially when there are millions of these devices in use today on Linux systems.  There is no excuse for having to fistfight with NDISwrapper to get your wireless device working.

And yeah, I know.  Windows has its share of driver problems, but stabbing one of these cards into a Windows 7 machine we keep onsite picked up the card and connected wirelessly without having to install a driver.

Windows 7 supported this card out of the box.  You gotta be kidding me.

One bright spot illuminated the darkness this morning.  Zorin 6.2 Educational release picked the cards right it did for the adapters Mark Van Kinsley sent us.  It's working well for we're gonna leave (Ed)Ubuntu on the side of the road for now.  Someone should be by shortly to shovel up the mess.

I am the Executive Director of a non profit.  My duties can keep me busy 60 hours a week and I love my job.  What I don't love is arbitrary and idiotic decisions to remove working drivers from a system.  Decisions that waste my time on something that should not even be a factor.

Yeah, hairyfeet is right.  until we get this stuff sorted through, Linux isn't worth the purchase price...unless you either buy a system with Linux on it or have the foresight to make things right. 

Apparently, there are developers who pay attention to stuff like this and fix what's broken.  Zorin Educational release will work for now.

All-Righty Then



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