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5/13/2004
02:01 PM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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Langa Letter: Follow-Up To Linux's Achilles' Heel Column

Fred Langa addresses the most-voiced criticisms of his recent review of Linux problems, including claims that sound isn't that important in business computing. He also posits that high-priced commercial Linux vendors are on a suicidal course, unless they lower prices to accentuate their advantages over Windows.

Name That Hardware
While the above letter was general, many of the other posts were highly specific. The largest thread of posts, stretching across several weeks and under several headings, dealt with the fact that I hadn't detailed the exact specs of the hardware that failed.

Many readers thought I was trying to hide something; or was secretly trying to stack the deck against Linux; or that I had some other evil motivation in not detailing the hardware. For example, check these four separate posts:

"So a so-called journalist claims he can't get sound working on some anonymous system ... he refuses to specify the hardware used. What is he afraid of? Is he afraid that somebody might fix that problem? Or maybe this anonymous soundcard/chip doesn't exist? Why must that hardware be kept anonymous?"

"The only reason he wouldn't reveal his hardware is he knows that it's Windows-only junk. He knows perfectly well why Linux won't work with it, but he makes us jump through all his silly hoops and never gives us the punch line at the end."

"Can you name that mysterious sound card and chipset, Fred? Somehow you keep on failing to do that .... Why?"

"Have you so completely given up on your career that you just make up stories? Unless you produce the hardware specs we should just assume you never actually did the test and just made up your article based on opinion and hearsay."

(I've omitted the names of the writers, above, because I have no desire to embarrass anyone. All the posts are on the InformationWeek.com Listening Post, and you can read them there in their original context, if you wish to.)

The omission was simple: I had seen no need to burn space in the original article with a list of the hardware specs because the vendor I was dealing with specifically said the system should work with their distribution (I had provided the support techs with a complete hardware rundown); and the sound chipset in question is listed on the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) site as supported. Thus, I thought that detailing the hardware was moot. The salient point was that it was supposed to work with Linux, and did not. It also was supposed to work with Windows, and did.

But, as the above four notes show (and there were many, many others), some readers from the Linux community are deeply suspicious of criticism of Linux. To them, the salient point wasn't that a supposedly supported sound chipset failed in Linux; but that I was "hiding" something. So, to try to get the discussion back on track, I posted the relevant hardware specs in the discussion area.

There were a few more posts in the "Fred is lying/hiding" vein, but most of those died out when the participants in the discussion saw that the sound system indeed should have worked. But then the discussion shifted, as the next item shows:

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