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Free Software Drivers

Ubuntu works best with drivers that are themselves under the same license as Linux, the GPLv2. This means that anybody can improve the drivers, or fix a security problem when one is found, and also ensures that the drivers can be used on every computer architecture.

On this site we list vendors that have an excellent track record with free software drivers, either providing their own drivers under the appropriate license or enabling us to write them ourselves.

We strongly encourage you to buy computers that include components from these vendors!







Please add known-good vendors to this table after discussing them on #ubuntu-devel or the ubuntu-devel mailing list.

Unfortunately, not all vendors recognise the importance of Linux, and some vendors will not provide free software drivers for their hardware. Others will not even provide specifications publicly or under NDA to enable independent developers to write free software drivers.

Helping vendors to understand Linux

If your current vendor does not support free software drivers, then we strongly encourage you to help them understand the importance of doing so. For your next computer, choose components that come from vendors that work well with the free software community. The strongest message you can send is to buy hardware from vendors based on their support for Linux, and to tell them that you are doing so! Buy a computer with Ubuntu pre-installed to register your vote for Linux in the marketplace.

You can also write to the vendors who's equipment you would like to buy, but who do not provide free software drivers. Please take a constructive approach in your letter, emphasizing the importance of an open driver and your willingness to buy their hardware once they take the appropriate action. The more persuasive your approach, and the stronger your willingness and capacity to actually buy hardware with free drivers, the more seriously they will take your letter.

You might want to address the following points:

  • Linux is a large and growing market, of people with strong, forward-looking views about technology. Linux users make excellent advocates of technology and will strongly endorse vendors that differentiate themselves from their competition on the basis of excellent support for Linux.
  • The Linux community of developers will often step up to write drivers free of charge for popular hardware, if given detailed specifications. Open specifications published widely are often all that is required to ensure that Linux drivers are available for a component. Alternatively, there is a large pool of engineers available on contract under NDA to write drivers, in a program managed by the Linux Foundation.
  • Vendors which take a leadership position can often gain a competitive advantage by ensuring that the driver frameworks within Linux are suited to their own driver models. Vendors that take longer to join the Linux community may find that it takes longer to integrate their drivers into Linux, because the frameworks for their subsystem are well established.
  • Key influencers, such as developers and system administrators, care that devices they count on can be used equally effectively under Linux and Windows. Additionally, many global OEM's in the server, workstation and consumer marketplaces now ship computers with Linux preinstalled, and they prefer components which work under both.