Does it seem to you that Linux distributions have fallen into to a well or other deep support chasm that defies the space-time continuum? It seems so to me. Linux distributions are lagging behind Windows and Mac in significant ways.
Well, it doesn't work for this chipset. Well, it works but you have to tweak it. Well, it works but...is the common theme for many Linux installations. This generates frustrations for users old and new. It's hard to convince someone to use Linux when it's even hard for me to do something that would be impossible for a newbie.
For example, yesterday I had heard enough complaints from my kids about their shared Windows XP laptop's slowness, unresponsiveness and general lack of pep. I summoned them all from their caves (Rooms with TVs) and told them to save off their valuable documents, songs and other files of interest to a flash drive because I am going to reimage the laptop. They complied. I planned to reimage it with Ubuntu 9.04 Desktop. There began my problems that appeared to remain unresolved until I put Windows XP back on it.
Don't fret, I went ahead with the installation of Ubuntu 9.04.
The installation went fine. The updating via apt-get went swimmingly. Sound, wired networking, video--everything was just perfect--until I tried to use the wireless networking, that is. The kids have to use wireless because the only wired connections are in my office and I don't want them in that close proximity to me for extended periods of time. I have to work, after all.
Much to my disappointment, though, my built-in Broadcom wireless network adapter wasn't supported by default. Why does it seem like that Linux supports everything except what I have? This is why, as I told a friend of mine, Linux will never unseat Windows as the reigning desktop computer dominant force. Never.
Oh, don't think for a minute that I'm turning my back on Linux--I'm not. Quite the opposite, in fact, since it would be so much easier to simply reimage the laptop with Windows XP from the rescue disks.
It does seem though that I wrestle with configurations for laptops, desktops and sometimes servers when using Linux but I've never given up on it. I likely never will. It would be nice, however, if everything just worked right out of the box like it's supposed to--at least once in a while.
And, no, I don't check the hardware compatibility list prior to purchase. If I did, I might not have any hardware at all. I buy what's available without regard for compatibility because I know that mass-produced hardware will have support--or should.
Like many of you, when I install Linux for someone else, I'd like for it to just 'work' without any problems so that they can see how awesome it is. Now, my kids are wondering if it was really worth all the trouble. 15 minutes to install and 15 hours to troubleshoot is not a good showing for a basic service like wireless networking.
Late-breaking Update: Fortunately, just a while ago, I found this fix that worked for me. Now the kids have a fully functional laptop that runs like one with much more RAM and a more powerful CPU.
I'll update you on their adoption of Linux. Who knows, this could be the beginning of a whole new era of posts generated from the experiences of the cave dwellers in my house.