Linux wont run with my hardware!

  8 years ago

In Linux Mint 9 and releases that came out before it, I found that to get the webcam on my Sony VAIO laptop (VGN-SZ5MN/B) to work I had to load in some Firmware and attach a Driver to the Kernel.  However, with the advent of Linux Mint 10 this solution stopped working.  Actually, if I just restarted the computer after upgrading the computer, (not switched off) then the webcam would continue to work in the new edition but, as soon as I switched off, this ability died!  Something lived on from the old operating system into the new.

I was really flummoxed. First it worked and then, after it had been switched off it didn't.  I couldn't use the old drivers, they just wouldn't work with the latest Kernel however, there was something, admittedly transitory, which allowed it to work, so I reasoned, it must be possible to make it work all the time.  The trick was finding how.

Now then, getting hardware to work in a computer isn't just a Linux thing.  Have you ever tried reloading your Windows installation back on to your computer then finding the network, video and other hardware on the motherboard no longer works?  To get any of these items to work in Windows you need to load in the appropriate drivers, supplied by the computer or motherboard manufacturer on cd or in a hidden partition on the hard drive.  At least most things are automatically supported by the Linux Kernel.  It is just sod's law your bit isn't!

The first port of call should always be the manufacturer's website and their help desk or support tab in the web page.  Ask them if they have drivers for their hardware that support your Linux system, you never know, they may say yes.  Sometimes there is a kindred spirit at the other end who can help you; at least points you in the right direction.  At worse, they at least hear that there is a demand from Linux users.  It may not be a quick route to a solution, in fact it works more like erosion on rocks but hopefully the day will come when the dam will burst and they will see the sence of supporting Linux and Open Source systems.

Now here, this is where Google becomes your friend.  First, find out all you can about your problem hardware, manufacturers name, model number, serial numbers, chips used, etc.  Start searches in Google phrased like this:-
“linux .  The items in the <> can be included or not, it all depends upon the results, sometimes there can be too many and sometimes none at all, it all depends upon how stringent the question is.

There are quite a few websites in the Linux world with support for hardware and, your Google search should find these along the way.  (Try , , and all.)

Even once you have found your information, yes there is a driver or whatever, but the information is gobbledegook (to you)!  Don't worry, you are not alone, it will probably be gobbledegook to most of us.  Unfortunately, a developer will normally not think like the rest of us, (they are Gods after all), and they will assume you think at the same level as they do and cut out all the basic steps we (lesser mortals) need.  Look for a script or the like, something like this:-

    $ sudo apt-get install libglib2.0-dev libusb-dev build-essential gcc automake mercurial
    $ hg clone
    $ cd r5u87x
    $ make
    $ sudo make install
    $ sudo r5u87x-loader --reload
    The loader will automatically be run on boot when it detects your webcam.

Yes, this is the solution to my Sony VAIO Webcam problem, even in LMDE!

Ask questions on the Forums, there is no such thing as a silly question, only silly answers; (they didn't understand your question or your need to ask it).  Read books, there are plenty about Linux, even a book based upon RPM based Linux system like Red Hat, Fedora or SUSE, may supply an answer for you when dealing with a DEB based system like Debian, Ubuntu and Mint, they just come at a problem from a different direction or explain it with a different emphasis.  You didn't have to pay for your Linux OS, so spend a bit of that saved cash on a book or two.

Even if things don't work out and that open source solution that promised so much, fails to deliver; there may be another solution.

I played for a long time with my Benq 5000E scanner and Sane.  In spite of the promise of 600 dpi resolution scans with Sane, all I ever managed was half a scan before the whole thing seized up and the program collapsed.  A Google search on “Benq 5000E Linux scanner” produced (eventually)

Acer/BenQ 5000 Scanner Driver and Software
Acer/BenQ 5000 technical information, scanner driver and software for Windows, ... VueScan works with the Acer/BenQ 5000 on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. ...

Now Hamrick produce a piece of proprietary software that brought back full life to my, up until then, redundant Windows BENQ 5000E scanner.  And it allows the device to work up to its highest resolution too, not just a theoretical 600 dpi Sane promised.  It didn't cost too much either and, you can download a trial version to ensure it works with your kit before you buy.  Perhaps the manufacturers should supply this software with their hardware, or is that asking too much?

What I think I'm trying to tell you loyal reader is, don't give up and, especially, don't give up on Linux.  It may not work out of the box on Linux; it probably doesn't in Windows either (without first installing those drivers).  The question is normally put the wrong way round and should be phrased, “the manufacturer doesn't support Linux”.  Until you find the answer you can always dual boot, run in Wine or Virtual Box, then, if the worst comes to the worst, that bit of kit gathers dust for a while, until you do find that elusive solution.

Have fun searching for your solution and think of the big grin on your face when you do breath new Linux life into that odd bit of hardware.  Also remember, this is for your legacy hardware, when you first take to Linux.  After then, always ensure that kit works on your Linux box before buying it!

Thanks to Dale, to providing that spur to write this.

RayWoods 11 years ago

Thanks @trollboy, I think I must have been over zealous in some of the editing! I will reinsert the missing bits! Ah yes, an unasked question is just as bad as a silly answer, so go young Linuxer, to the Forums and ask...

@kazztan0325 & @compuman2004 thanks for the support and @compuman2004, good luck with the 20,000! (Now there hangs a tale).

trollboy 11 years ago

@RayWoods Great article but I think you've edited it as your Google search has lost the info in the <>

But I would argue that there is such a thing as a silly question. It's the one that isn't asked!

kazztan0325 11 years ago


I enjoyed reading your Linux Journey.
Thank you!

I would like to hear other anecdotes about Linux from you.