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Legacy hardware, GNU/Linux

Hi all,

This post would be about a bit of economics of legacy hardware and GNU/Linux and specifically the distro. I love ubuntu.

I bought this machine which I’m using exactly 5 years and 2 months ago. I run the current stable builds as well as developmental builds of Ubuntu side-by-side to report errors and see if some of the errors can be fixed before the release. Sometimes I get it, sometimes not. Recently while running Jaunty I ran into a bug which I promptly reported bug 304871 . It turns out to be a bug which was also reported in Fedora (and although its told be fixed, people are still being hit with it on the fedora bug report 461829 ) and its been confirmed upstream (bug 18974). Now while I hope it gets fixed I have no idea how many vintage 845G/GL chipsest motherboards are there in existence which run FOSS exclusively. The good or bad thing its also 865 which is also hit as shown in the Fedora bug-report as well as ubuntu bug-report so the possibility of getting the bug fixed is higher as supposedly upstream is not so active on issues of pre-855 chipsets.

Now while this was happening, I was thinking about how long legacy hardware is supported in free and open source software. In commercial support contract (like Red Hat does) its typically between 7-10 years but that’s slightly different kind of hardware. I believe they would be workstations and servers and not low-end single desktop use-cases like me.

The whole argument of economics of FOSS against commercial software is its supported longer but there is no definition or terms about how long they (by they I mean freedesktop, various upstream kernel contributors) will support the same. For Microsoft its clear the moment they said they are removing support for XP in January 2009 which means millions of machines would be discarded as they can’t meet Microsoft Vista’s standards. Now this is all happening in a world heading towards recession.

An interesting side-note was  this zdnet blog post which I read . The last line was very pertinent “It’s the economy, stupid !”

Looking for comments and answers to the same.

An UPDATE :- I guess I forgot to share couple of important things .

a. The real and perceived difference in buying factor

b. There was usually 2 years of difference between the technology which was available in west and here. So while a P4 was available in the US of A at similar rates to us in 2001-2002, the P4 became popular here in around 2003.

So there is always a shorter period for the average Joe to use the machine at then his western counterpart.

UPDATE 2 :- I tried the bleeding edge X.org from the PPA and it appears to work as I have posted in the forum although with a major annoyance which hopefully would be sorted out well before Jaunty releases.

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