Hardware that Requires software WAS: TL-WN722N support

Warren Block wblock at wonkity.com
Thu Aug 28 18:22:42 UTC 2014

On Thu, 28 Aug 2014, Paul Kraus wrote:

> It is helpful to understand the why of something, and explain such, rather than just condemn it as bad.
> The move to host based software for things like printers, modems, 
> scanners, and other various hardware came about because the 
> performance of the general purpose computer was increasing at least at 
> Moore?s Law rate, if not faster. By moving the processing of the raw 
> data into code the device (printer, scanner, modem, etc.) could use 
> onto the host OS you got two big advantages:
> 1. As the host systems got faster so did your device
> 2. Your device was likely to remain useful for a longer period
> There is a third advantage, that the device can be less intelligent 
> and less powerful, making it cheaper. The typical desktop computer 
> today has lots and lots of spare CPU cycles (and generally speaking, 
> has for at least a decade). Why not make good use of those resources.

For vendors, this cost reduction was the big reason.  The problem for 
users was that the binary blob firmware made the user totally dependent 
on the vendor's good will.  Softmodems on FreeBSD were difficult and not 
likely to work.  The vendors did not see a business need to document 
their binary blob so it could be used with more than one operating 

Many devices quit working even on later versions of Windows, for the 
same reason.  The owner was left with a paperweight.

The problem is not so much whether the software runs on the peripheral 
or on the host CPU.  It's more a question of how open the software is, 
and how standardized.  Closed binary blobs speaking proprietary 
undocumented languages are at the worst end of that scale.  Smart 
devices that speak standard, documented, open languages give the user 
more freedom in how long the device will work and where it can be used.

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