A common complaint about Linux is that it doesn’t support all hardware. Of course it doesn’t. Neither would Windows if Microsoft had to write drivers for all hardware devices. Most manufacturers still see Linux as too small a market to bother, so writing drivers is often left to users and volunteers, not the hardware vendors. Not only that, many vendors won’t even release their specifications to the driver developers so many drivers require a considerable amount of reverse-engineering.
I’m not too bothered. The selection of hardware available in shops is so large that I can always find something that is well supported in Linux, either because the vendor has followed standards, written their own drivers, or made specifications available to the public. Ralink, which makes wireless network chips, is one of the better vendors. So, when I was looking for a secondary, well supported USB-based wifi adapter, I ordered the Ralink RT2571-based Edimax USB wireless adapter from The Linux Emporium.
I’d like to recommend this company to anyone using Linux. Not only was the shipping fast (and included in the price!), the product was one of the best I’ve had to configure under Linux. Linux Emporium must’ve spent quite a while getting everything together. The shop has put together their own CD to bundle with the adaptor, with drivers and firmware. They also included printed instructions for a number of distributions (Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora). As a Gentoo user I didn’t actually need the CD, as emerging
USE=rt73usb) worked fine, as soon as I had manually downloaded the firmware from the Ralink website. Monitor mode also works, and it seems well supported in Kismet.
I’m sure with a lot of searching one could find the adaptor for a couple of pounds less somewhere else. But I’m happy to support a company that not only sells Linux-compatible hardware but actually actively develops installation scripts and help documentation for Linux. They can’t make much money selling a low-value product such as this, which makes it even more commendable.
I think this is the first time I’ve been impressed enough about a web store that I wanted to promote them. Anyway, go spend your cash there instead of eBay.