I recently was asked to troubleshoot a computer with network problems.
The computer had a Microsoft MN-130 network card installed but the proper software was not. Seeing as it’s a Microsoft card I thought for sure the drivers would be available within Windows XP. A few clicks and the computer would be fixed.
I suppose if it was that simple then someone would have done so. Upon running the add new hardware wizard I was left with a very long pause which eventually led to the software not being found.
Then interestingly enough Windows XP offered to download the driver for the network card from the Internet. I almost thought of clicking the button just to see it choke up but I had already wasted enough time.
So I scoured the Internet looking for the driver. I found plenty of sleazy download driver sites that claimed to have it but all but one led me to the same broken link on Microsoft’s website. One seemed to actually host the file, but after a series of approximately ten annoying advertisements I was rewarded only with a 404 not found error. I checked newsgroups and ftp searches to no avail.
I thought I’d have to buy a new one. Network cards are fairly cheap but it still bothered me that here was a perfectly good one that just wouldn’t work because of a silly missing driver.
So I wondered if Linux supported it. A check on the Internet led me to a post where someone had hacked it to work by recompiling a driver module. The post was dated 2003 and I thought maybe by now someone had implemented this hack permanently.
I am happy to say Puppy Linux picked it up upon booting. And no work was required to get it working. So much for Microsoft.
In the end I ended up swapping cards with this particular machine and charging the owner twenty dollars for my time and the discomfort of running a Microsoft card in a Linux machine. I probably should have charged more for the ugly stigmata. Anyone know of any other Microsoft hardware supported by Linux and not it’s creator?