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Is ‘just works’ the goal?

Lately, some folks have noted that Linux isn’t very kind to batteries in laptops compared to previous kernel versions or Windows. The cause of this brings to mind the ‘just works’ goal that developers express.

The conflict is with standards. When it comes to PC’s, standards, especially those at BIOS level such as power management, often come into conflict with the ‘just works’ idea. That is because the standards have evolved over time and are not always complete or completely implemented. That means that a system that depends upon standards may well encounter problems with making the system ‘just work.’

The power management problem is a case in point. The latest Linux kernels implement the standard for the power API. On some machines, that doesn’t get optimum power management. Older kernels didn’t pay so much attention to the standard and did better.

Microsoft has perhaps the longest history of dealing with the evolving standards and how to deal with them. Power-off and reset are good examples. This is why some folks reverse engineer Windows so they can find out what Microsoft is doing to deal with different ideas about hardware standards and try to make Windows so it ‘just works.’

Then there’s Apple. They make their own standards.

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