Desktop Linux Trio Offers Look at Whats To Come - Page 4

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On all three distributions, getting the T60ps wireless adapter up and running also took a bit of work. Atheros does not provide Linux drivers for its products at all, and multiple workarounds exist for addressing this lackluster vendor support.

Fedora 8 did offer the prospect of out-of-the-box support for Atheros cards, through the inclusion of a fledgling open-source driver called ath5k. However, the driver did not work on my test system.

On each of the three distributions, I turned next to the MadWifi driver, a forebearer of the ath5k driver that is open source but that requires proprietary firmware to operate. Ubuntu offers MadWifi in its software repositories on the Internet; OpenSUSE and Fedora, in contrast, required that I seek out and configure third-party repositories (as they did with the ATI driver).

MadWifi didnt work for me, either, so I cycled next to NDISwrapper, a project that wraps around a standard Windows networking driver to enable wireless devices to operate under Linux. NDISwrapper has a reputation for spotty performance, but the driver functioned well in my tests: I was able to use the Atheros adapter, complete with WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) encryption, under Fedora, Ubuntu and OpenSUSE.


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Under Fedora 8 and OpenSUSE 10.3, my test machines suspend and hibernate power management functions both worked well. (Suspend sends PCs into a low-power mode, and hibernate saves PC state to disk and turns systems off.)

With Ubuntu, I couldnt get hibernation or suspend working, due to a reported bug in the way that the proprietary ATI graphics driver interacts with the system. Rather than hibernate or suspend, the display of my ThinkPad turned black and the machine hung, requiring a hard reset.

I also tried suspending and hibernating without the proprietary ATI driver (and without the systems restart-plagued display manager). In these tests, Ubuntu 7.10 suspended properly, but hibernate did not work. On the positive side, the system told me that it could not hibernate, rather than just hanging.

I wasnt able to discern whether Fedora 8 and OpenSUSE 10.3 suffered from the same ATI driver hibernation woes, since I wasnt able to get either distribution working with ATIs driver.

Whats more, without ATIs 3D-enabled driver, I wasnt able to test Fedora or OpenSUSEs hardware-accelerated desktop effects. However, based on my tests of these features with Ubuntu 7.10, with other Linux distributions and, for that matter, with Microsofts Windows Vista, these eye-candy elements are of limited value.


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