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Jo-Erlend Schinstad 04-19-2012 11:56 PM

The future of third-party driver installation
Den 18. april 2012 09:14, skrev Martin Pitt:
> Hello Desktop fans,
> We have had Jockey for quite a while now to perform the installation
> of proprietary (e. g. NVidia), alternative (e. g. fglrx vs.
> fglrx-updates), third-party (e. g. from drivers.

Hardware! Yes, that's an area where large improvements can be made.

The ability to easily install third-party drivers is obviously quite
valuable. But how do people actually look at drivers? I don't think most
people understands the difference between open drivers and proprietary
third-party drivers. Nor do I think they care. And why should they? What
they want, is for their hardware to work properly.

If this was going to be redesigned, I would rather see it as a "Hardware
manager". Ubuntu is currently promoting drivers as an optional extra.
But that's not true; drivers are always necessary for all hardware. One
problem with doing that, is that when you're missing an important driver
and it's not available in Jockey, then you get the impression that
Ubuntu has no drivers for your system. Reality is that Ubuntu has nearly
all of your drivers, but missing one. Users should see that. Otherwise,
we're always reinforcing the negative without showing anything positive.
The moon looks smaller when it's near the horizon, because you have
something to compare it to. So let's compare the one thing that doesn't
work with the huge number of things that does.

If changes are to be made, I would propose that it displayed all your
hardware, what drivers it is currently using and then make it easy to
install other drivers. From this application, you should be able to
export your hardware info so that you can easily provide this to
support. (System Info > Hardware Manager > Send To: pastebin | email |
IM | etc).

That is to say, even if your computer doesn't require any proprietary
drivers, the application should still be useful. It would then display
the drivers, the developer being listed as Linux. If there are
alternatives, or third-party drivers are required, then you should be
able to easily install them. As a service to the user, this application
should also provide links to the manufacturers website for further
support. This would both be helpful to the user, and show who's
responsible. In other words; "We have installed all your drivers for you
automatically, except that one."

Perhaps this application could also be used to try and find out which
computer model you have, and provide some kind of forum where you can
connect to other users with the same hardware? That way, people can
share their experiences, and support would be able to help a large
number of people at the same time, instead of each user having to begin
with a Google search and go from there. That would enable automatic
detection of some troublesome hardware as well, because it would
automatically get many posts.

This wouldn't have to be fully automatic, but it should be possible to
limit the number of possible models based on the hardware. Then you can
look through a photo album to make it easier to spot your model. If you
can't find it, then you can upload an image of your own, and then people
could help identify that computer, enabling you to more easily get
support – improving Ubuntus database of models at the same time.

Right now, driver support seems bad in Ubuntu. It's actually awesome. We
need to display it as such. When drivers can't be provided at all, it
must be obvious to the user who is responsible for that and preferably
how to contact them.

Don't you think?

Jo-Erlend Schinstad

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