Having read of John Halamka’s experience using Fedora and RHEL, I was not surprised by the mixed results. About 90 percent of his issues were hardware-related. Coincidentally, the X41 is not listed as officially supported by either Fedora or RHEL on Red Hat’s website.
My Dell D600 Fedora laptop has the same network card as Halamka’s X41, yet I always achieve network connectivity immediately. As for USB drives, my laptop happily recognizes my Cruzer Micro with every insert.
However, in the business world, end user perception plays a key role in acceptance of new technologies. I couldn’t agree more with Halamka’s opinion: If it is to be successfully deployed on end user systems, Linux must be able to function with as little tweaking as possible.
It’s the hardware companies such as Dell or Lenovo that will put the final seal of approval for Linux support on their machines. As a consequence of having many variations of Linux, hardware vendors will likely pick a small handful of Linux OS versions to officially support. If you work in an organization where support and compatibility are not optional, then you’ll need to choose one of the officially supported distributions from your hardware vendor. However, the beauty of Linux is that you can also opt for the “some assembly required” approach.
I would recommend using an OS more suitable to desktops such as Ubuntu or Linspire, as opposed to the more server-oriented distributions such as Fedora or RHEL. Halamka could also consider a non-Linux alternative to Microsoft Windows such as FreeBSD, Skyos or Haiku.
–David Torre is the founder and CTO of open-source consultancy Atomic Fission.