Hardware And Linux

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It looks like instead of getting easier for Linux to support hardware, there are more obstacles being thrown in the way. I came across two stories today which do not bode well for people wanting to use Linux on commodity hardware.

First of all, seemingly Phoenix are now creating a crippled BIOS which will only support Windows Vista. My own view on this is that the BIOS should only be responsible for getting the PC ready for whatever Operating System the user chooses. A four year old article mentioned in the post seems to suggest that Microsoft are "embracing" Phoenix. If this is true, is it not the same anti-competitive behaviour that Microsoft have already gotten in trouble for? I know there is LinuxBios, but I haven't been brave enough to try it yet, so I can't comment on how good it is.

AMD also don't seem to be getting it. MythTv and Beryl are two popular projects. Yet if you want to use accelerated 3D on ATI cards with either of the these projects, you are out of luck. AMD are a hardware company, they shouldn't give a toss about the drivers as long as they work. I know the 3D graphics market is highly competitive, and there is lots of proprietry tricks used in the drivers to get the last ounce of perforance. I would still rather if they would give the specs to someone like Dave Airlie and let him do nice open source drivers without NDAs hanging over him. I don't care if I loose a couple of frames per second. I'd rather have decent drivers.

How many more hardware makers are shooting themselves by placing such obstacles to using Linux? Hopefully with the likes of Dell commiting to use Linux friendly hardware, AMD and Phoenix might begin to see sense.

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from AMD To Release Open Source Drivers on May 13, 2007 9:51 PM

TITLE: URL: http://blog.moybella.net/2007/05/13/amd-to-release-open-source-drivers/ IP: BLOG NAME: AMD To Release Open Source Drivers DATE: 05/13/2007 09:51:07 PM Read More


There appears to be genuine disagreement as who which party is most to blame for this situation. If you care to register a vote on the matter, you can do so here:


My own view is that both Phoenix and Microsoft are to blame. Phoenix because because all they should care about is initializing the hardware and handing it off to whatever OS is installed. And Microsoft because this could be seen as anti-competitive behavior. This is presuming that Microsoft are paying Phoenix to put in this restriction.

The user in the forum post should have known better. However such restrictions are very hard to spot before buying a laptop, and I presume he wasn't updating the BIOS for the fun of it.

I agree with you, Niall, that there are no innocent parties and if Phoenix aren't being paid to do this, what other incentive do they have?

There are two things that particularly bug me:
One is that while this is clearly anti-competitive behaviour, any lawsuits will drag on to the point where they're no longer relevant, and even when they end Microsoft will worm its way out of paying.
Secondly, this adversely affects the second-hand market in that many users will either have to try to avoid this BIOS or unknowingly buy a machine that they can't use as they wish. Who will mediate then?

The whole episode, as I understand it, leaves me fuming.


There was a rebuttal put up by the person who wrote the original article here claiming that Microsoft and Phoenix are not as close as was originally suggested. It still sucks that a Phoenix BIOS in the wild is setup that it breaks Linux.

All might not be lost though, I have tried LinuxBios and it works like a charm. There is a draft about it here that needs to get finished :)

Hi again Niall,

Thanks for the update.

Just to let you know that the LinuxBios link is broken. It leads to an internal 404 rather than the external site.


Thanks, the link has been fixed.

I'm hoping the LinuxBios gets more traction and PR. That will get the other boys 2b nicer! Consumers talk (with enough users) eventually.


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This page contains a single entry by Niall Donegan published on April 11, 2007 12:07 AM.

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