Ok, I’m sorry, you’ll forgive the introduction but last night I fi-nal-ly got my wireless card working with Madwifi and did my first successful site survey! (Details in an upcoming post.) Somewhat anticlimatically, I found out that one must also install a supplemental to accommodate WPA/WPA2 encryption. Nevertheless, I am stoked!! Whereas a Winblows user might think, “yeah, so what, you could’ve had it all working in Windows 3 weeks ago,” I’m honestly convinced that Windows is going down. And frankly, I’m just darn tired of running the race just to keep things running smoothly. I’m not the only one. Lots of people are getting tired of paying hundreds, thousands, millions, and maybe even billions of dollars on IT just to keep their home and corporate systems patched for security holes and free of viruses, adware, spyware, keyloggers, trojan horses, worms, and hackers. Most of the business we get at the shop, and I’ve heard from other sources that their demographics are no different, is for security patching and malware removal.
Some might say changing operating systems is a little drastic, and that the crap involved in getting all your hardware working given the lack of GNU/Linux drivers out there is not worth the hassle. But most things do work right out of the box and for those that don’t, the hassle is well worth it. Because the fact of the matter is, Mr. or Ms. Windows User, once I get it working I can count on it to keep working. I recently heard again about a relatively common occurrence, a GNU/Linux server somebody had up and running 24 hours a day for something like 268 days, without so much as a hiccup and without ever once having to reboot. That’s right, you read it right. Not one reboot. Try THAT on your piddly-ass Windows box.
There are others who might think I’m some kind of loser with too much time on my hands if I’ve got time to struggle with a wireless driver for that long. Au contraire. I’ve been working full-time as an IT manager and technician, managing an apartment complex, administering 2 websites, spending quality time with my wonderful son (who’s on winter break from college) and lovely wife, visiting with friends, taking care of all the other responsibilities of life, and still squeezing in time here and there to work on this driver. If I’m that busy, you say, why in the heck would I dream of fighting to get a stupid driver working? Well, it’s precisely because I don’t have a lot of time that I’m doing this. Once everything’s working, I want it to stay working and not get broken again by some sloppily-written Windows security patch or some two-bit script kiddie malware circulating the web. When I work on my computer, I want it to just work. I don’t have time to keep stopping everything so I can troubleshoot whatever piece of crap software broke it this time. If you look at all the time you spend downloading and installing Windows patches, antivirus definitions, antispyware definitions, firewall updates and the like, even foolishly assuming they install with no hangups and successfully block 100% of all infections 100% of the time, and add it all up… the few hours I spent getting one GNU/Linux driver working ends up being way less trouble. And, like everything else in the GNU/Linux world, soon the lag will be over and the drivers for my new wireless chipset will be incorporated into the next distro releases so it just works out of the box like all the rest of my hardware did.
It’s true that, until more end users see the light and demand official Linux drivers from more companies, there will be struggles with drivers when new hardware first comes out on the market. So cheers to ASUS, HP, and Lexmark for leading the pack by releasing their own official GNU/Linux drivers. Cheers to Atheros for working with the free software/open source community to help it develop GNU/Linux drivers. And if I have missed anyone, please add your comment so they can be given proper credit in a public forum.