My laptop’s a few years old now, and while it’s still in good nick, I do need to start thinking about some upgrades. My wireless adaptor in particular needed an upgrade and the easy solution was to get a USB adaptor. Because I use Ubuntu as my primary operating system, what could’ve been resolved in 10 minutes with a couple clicks and a transaction that would barely qualify for free shipping became a two day learning experience.
I did a small amount of research before deciding to buy an adaptor from a physical store, reasoning that would probably be easier to return than one purchased online if things didn’t work out. Now I remember why I do online shopping…
In online reviews [Amazon] I’d read that the adapter I’d purchased worked for a few people running Ubuntu and there were even links to the drivers they had to install. They made me think it would be fast. Painless. Easy. They lied.
The most important piece of information regarding compatibility with a new piece of hardware is the kernel version. I didn’t realise this at first, so the information that I got about drivers may as well have been for Mac or Windows- it bore no relevance to me!
The best analogy that I found is to think of the operating system as a seed inside a fruit- and the kernel is just that: the kernel! The kernel is what allocates system resources. The kernel for Ubuntu is Linux, but the kernel version isn’t the same as the operating system version- you could have many different operating system versions which use the same kernel version.
Click here to read a short explanation of the kernel.
As frustrating as the experience was, I’m still really happy with my choice to use Linux, and I’m glad that it pushes me a little to learn extra things on the side!