Saturday, 6 January 2007

New laptop #3 (hardware compatibility - mandatory rant)

I am deeply missing a real wiki.debian.org/Hardware page. The current one is a joke. It would be nice to have something in the style of the Gentoo hardware page with nice pages which show what works and what doesn't.

I know about the Debian GNU/Linux device driver check page which is a good start, but:
  • in most places (installation reports in and out of Debian) you will not see lspci -n output
  • there is more to it than lspci (think lsusb, think stuff behind new/strange/uncommon buses - like the sound chips on some Apple ppc based machines)
  • you need a running linux system (a live CD can be used for the test), but:
    • Debian's live CD is in its infancy (I know, Knoppix should do fine)
    • most live CD-s are i386 only (it doesn't matter that much, since amd64 machine should work with i386 live CDs)
  • most places where you can buy hardware from:
    • either they don't have the hardware in stock,
    • either want an answer immediately,
    • or they don't allow you to access the machine
  • (I think) the database is outdated and people are not adding stuff to it
  • there is no way to make a search based on the product name of the whole system and/or the component

Current situation (bad stuff)

wiki.debian.org/Hardware is a joke. For example, I was expecting to see a Network compatibility list, but instead I see some useless info.

What annoys me the most in this matter are dead links or links to dead/inactive projects.

Information is scattered all over the place (redirects and directories can help), is mixed/ungroupped, or is outdated.

Current situation (good stuff)

The information partly exists. Probably, in time, the wiki will be cleaned up, but until then you have to dig for the information.

There are plenty of sites and pages with information, but, still, you need to weed out the old/irrelevant stuff.

What to do about it

Before you say anything, no, there is no need for yet another Linux compatibility list project.

Ideas:
  • contribute to the wiki
    • add a wiki page for every machine you installed under Hardware/Compatibility/{Laptop,Desktop,Misc}/$PRODUCTNAME (would it make sense to have it under Hardware/Compatibility/{Laptop,Desktop,Misc}/$PRODUCTNAME/$DIST ?); link your page to the installation-report (you did fill an installation report for every installation you did, didn't you?)
    • reorganize pages with directories (as proposed above)
    • remove dead llinks
    • add redirects for pages that just say "See foo"
    • unify pages that contain almost the same information
  • automatically make a wiki page for each (successful and unsuccessful) Debian installation-report based on the machine type (would need some logic to weed out the home made systems) - but only select the success/fail rate based on strictly hardware issues
  • help Kenshi with his efforts for better hardware support
Update: Justin told me about the Ubuntu Laptop Testing Team project which is kind of nice. There is also a scraper script which was supposed to help making queries like "info about laptop X" and "which laptops have these features", but that script didn't work for me.

1 comment:

Justin said...

I'm not sure how much it helps a Debian person, but Ubuntu maintains a LaptopTesting page with community contributed testing results. If nothing else, it may serve as an interesting model for you.