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July 13, 2004
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MozillaQuest Op-Ed

Asus Anti-Linux Attitude Sucks

Motherboards are the heart of today's computer systems. Thus, a computer system that employs a motherboard that does not support the Linux operating system precludes Linux from running on that computer -- regardless of who puts that computer system together . . .

Mike Angelo -- 13 July 2004 (C) -- Page 1


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For several weeks now, we have been very busy reviewing 32-bit and 64-bit, 2.6 Linux kernel, GNU-Linux distributions. During the course of our lab work with these distros it came to our attention that Asus, the motherboard manufacturer, has a rather nasty anti-Linux and anti-open-source software attitude. Moreover, the Asus people are arrogant about their anti-Linux policy. That sucks!

Sure, all to many hardware manufacturers and software publishers do not support Linux and/or open source software. We hate to see that, but it is understandable.

At times we have brought this sort of anti-Linux or anti-open-source attitude to public attention. Please see for example our articles HP to Ship Desktop PCs with Mandrake 9.1 Linux Pre-Installed and Does Dell Support Linux?. However, until now we never have done a Sucks-entitled article about it nor have we suggested a boycott of the transgressor.

Motherboards -- the heart of computer systems

So what is it that warrants Asus' anti-Linux policy an Asus Sucks article? One reason is that motherboards are the heart of today's computer systems. Thus, a computer system that employs a motherboard that does not support the Linux operating system precludes Linux from running on that computer -- regardless of who puts that computer system together or what other devices such as CPUs, hard drives, hard memory, monitors, keyboards, and so forth are part of the computer system -- and regardless of what accessory devices such as digital cameras, printers, scanners, and so forth are used with the computer system.

Also, please keep in mind that a person or organization might initially purchase a computer with MS Windows pre-installed -- perhaps with no intention at purchase time of ever switching to Linux. However, if at some time after purchase the person or organization decides to install Linux on that system, and the motherboard is not compatible with Linux, that person or organization would be precluded from running Linux on that computer without installing a new, Linux compatible, motherboard. Perhaps the worst part of that scenario is that the person or organization might then never switch to the Linux OS.

All Motherboards Should be 100% Linux Compatible

Therefore, it is important to the continued and successful growth of the Linux operating system and its deployment that all motherboards support Linux 100 per-cent. It's also important that all motherboards support Linux 100 per-cent in order to keep the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems from over-dominating the computer systems market.

Ensuring All Motherboards are Linux Compatible

One way to help ensure that motherboard manufacturers provide 100 per-cent Linux support is to encourage computer system integrators and computer buyers to not purchase motherboards, or anything else for that matter, from motherboard manufacturers such as Asus that do not support Linux. Another is to encourage computer system buyers to not purchase computers with Asus motherboards.

These buyer caveats do not merely apply to people that are buying Linux-based equipment. Many computer buyers, whether they be enterprise, SOHO, or home computer buyers, purchase MS Windows-based computer systems and hardware too. They can help to force motherboard outfits such as Asus that refuse to support Linux by not purchasing Asus equipment and by not purchasing computer systems that include Asus motherboards.

Support can be a somewhat tricky word where computers are concerned. In one sense Linux support means manufacturers providing the necessary drivers, interfaces, and so forth so that their devices (or software) and Linux are compatible. Another sense is one in which the manufacturers or vendors provide Linux-user support for their products. Then there are those whose products are compatible with Linux but they do not provide Linux-user support for their products.

Asus Refuses to Support Linux and Open Source Software

In the Asus motherboard circumstance, Asus refuses to provide necessary drivers, interfaces, and so forth so that its motherboard is Linux compatible -- the most serious of all failures to support the GNU-Linux operating system. It also appears that Asus does not provide Linux-user support either.

It was during our lab tests of the 2.6 Linux kernel distributions that we came across Asus' anti-Linux and anti-open-source posture. One our test machines has an Asus K8V SE Deluxe motherboard. Shortly after its arrival here, we started having network interface problems with that machine.

Note: The OEM that supplied the machine with the Asus K8V SE Deluxe motherboard asked to remain un-identified in this article. The OEM was kind enough to share with us the narrative of its discussions with Asus regarding the problems with the Asus motherboard, which exposes Asus' anti-Linux and anti-open-source attitude. Without that narrative, there would be no story. Therefore we consider the OEM's request for anonymity in this instance to be justified and reasonable.

After some very thorough research and development work, the OEM that supplied that machine had decided to use the Asus K8V SE Deluxe motherboard because it worked well with Linux -- except for the onboard sound adapter. The OEM thus supplied this box with a Sound Blaster adapter card, which works well with Linux.

Subsequent to adoption of the Asus motherboard for this Linux box, Asus made some revisions to its motherboard. It was only after boxes with the revised motherboards started shipping that the OEM discovered the onboard network interface in the revised motherboards is not fully Linux compatible.

A member of the OEM's technical support team tried to work with Asus about the motherboard problem. Here is the story in his words:



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