Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mother board compability with Linux

I always failed to read my CPU temp from the motherboard in Linux.

The OS has little to do with how the mother board is designed in hardware.  There is the memory and there is the CPU.  But for personal computers, there are some communications between the OS and the motherboard.  Monitoring the CPU temperature and reading from the motherboard is one of them.  The others are power management such as allowing the OS to control the CPU and fan speeds.

These are the lowest level of hardware drivers.  It's the manufacturers job to provide drivers and to pick some standards.  However, even there are more Linux users they are still less than 1%, and most of them aren't those typically using Windows.  Therefore most manufacturers just don't provide drivers for Linux.  The Linux developers do it for free with the manufacturer's documents.  There are also some defacto standards due to the monopoly of some critical chip manufacturers.

Devices, like printers, drivers used to be the problems with Linux.  Even Vista can't be compatible to XP.  But nowadays most devices should work ... to some extend.  Like my printer, it's working fine on Linux, until the ink goes out.  Then I realized that the ink monitor and cleaning program aren't available in Linux.  I have to go back to Windows to see which ink cartridge is out!

My problem is out there for years, when my motherboard is between old and new.  The old way of doing that in Linux is out and the new way hasn't work yet.  So they still have the problem and nobody is going to do anything for my motherboard.  There is a fix, it works for some people and I don't know how they do it.

I can always change to a new motherboard or a new nettop.  But the whole point is that my PC is still way more powerful than nettops.  Moving away from Windows is like a major upgrade in speed.  And the current setup will last a couple more years.  That is a certain.  The only catch is that my CPU may overheat someday without me knowing.

So when switching to Linux a dual-boot is a very good idea.  And if you are worrying about your hardware or buying something new, check the compatibility list.  For the portable computers, check your power management.  I'm sure standards are well established, or you can just get a Linux one.  The Chrome OS is coming out.  It may be good for portables but you don't want to do things differently on your top and your book.

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