January 27, 2005

Site review: Linuxcompatible.org

Author: Tina Gasperson

At first glance, there's nothing all that special about linuxcompatible.org -- unless you count the fact that it has an Emperor penguin as part of its logo instead of some funkified version of Tux. But if you can look past the clunky page design, you'll find a lot of useful information here: links to the latest Linux news, busy forums, plus a great big hardware compatibility database with scads of new entries each week (hence the name of the site).Linuxcompatible provides lots of posts just about every day to keep you informed about kernel updates and the latest Linux software releases. Some of the content is housed at the site, some is links to other sites.

Linuxcompatible.org is popular: when I visited there were 425 guests and five members online. That popularity makes for busy discussion forums, where users with many different levels of Linux experience can feel comfortable interacting, asking questions, and giving answers.

There are nine forum sections: Applications, Games, General Linux, Hardware, Networking, Security, Tips and Configuration Tweaks, Feedback, and "Other." Almost every section had posts in the last 24 hours, and only two hadn't had any posts in the month of January.

True to its name, Linuxcompatible.org has a big compatibility database. The default view shows pages full of hardware and software items; for each item you can see at a glance whether it has been listed as working under Linux, and the date it was added to the database. If you need more details, you can drill down a level to see if the submitter included any further information about the product.

If you have a compatibility report you can upload it to Linuxcompatible.org by filling out a short Web form that asks for your name, the program or hardware name, publisher, and category of the item. You select whether it's working or not, then add any comments or tips you want to, and click Submit.

Linuxcompatible.org has an FAQ, but it lacks information about the history of the site, or the owners, or what the underlying philosophy of the site owners is. Instead, it's a scrawny collection of Linux distribution FAQs.

While I like Linuxcompatible.org, the design could be better. Every page at the site has the same content at the top: three columns listing the latest Linux headlines, the latest discussion threads, and the latest Web headlines. It's irritating to have to scroll past that and the ad banners to see the content I was searching for every time I go to a new page. The site's underlying software is its maintainer's own Esselbach Storyteller CMS System.

The non-audience specific ads at the top and right hand side of every page made me feel a little like I was at Yahoo! instead of a Linux site.

Regardless of these minor irritations, Linuxcompatible.org is a good site to add to your bookmarks file.

If you know of a Linux or open source software-related Web site you'd like me to review, drop me line.


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