Phoronix Turns 18 Years Old For Covering Linux Hardware
Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 5 June 2022 at 09:00 PM EDT. 37 Comments
PHORONIX --
It was eighteen years ago today that I started Phoronix.com to focus on Linux hardware reviews. Back then it was difficult getting peripherals working under Linux from 56k modems to printers and other components today where Linux support can just be assumed. Open-source graphics drivers back then were also in their infancy and lacking vendor support while NVIDIA was well regarded then for their proprietary driver being at least featureful and performant. It's been quite a journey.

Back in the early days of Phoronix there was a lot of testing with Mandrake Linux, Fedora Core, and Knoppix. SimplyMEPIS, Yoper Linux, Yellow Dog Linux, and other since deprecated Linux distributions proved popular in those times prior to Arch Linux and Ubuntu garnering much popularity (or actually, shortly before the inaugural Ubuntu Warty Warthog release that didn't even come until later in 2004).


Linux has come a long way over the past 18 years... (Screenshot pictured from a former distro called Big Linux.)


While these days AMD Linux graphics support is much loved by the community and especially gamers for those open-source graphics drivers support, in the early days of Phoronix it was a time where ATI was widely criticized for their "fglrx" proprietary driver that often left a lot to be desired of support, features, and robustness. NVIDIA meanwhile provided a much more optimized and featureful Linux graphics driver at the time. Only after many years of hard work invested under AMD did their open-source Linux graphics driver materialize and become much loved by the community while NVIDIA has continued delivering their arguably great quality proprietary driver stack. After increasing speculation in recent years and a number of interesting shifts, only last month did NVIDIA finally announce their open-source kernel graphics driver component albeit will still be a long road before that reaches the mainline kernel and still no plans by NVIDIA for open-source user-space driver components.


I certainly don't miss the days when one needed to modify their xorg.conf and jump through hurdles just to enable multi-monitor support on Linux before display hot-plugging worked...


Some of the other fantastic Linux hardware accomplishments over the past nearly two decades has been the arrival of the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) and Fwupd for firmware updating under Linux, Canonical really pushing along the Linux desktop and addressing many paper-cuts at the top to Linux desktop usability, and the success of the Raspberry Pi and PinePhone/PINE devices introducing new users to Linux. Red Hat's substantial contributions to upstream open-source projects and driving many of the greatest innovations I've covered over the past 18 years. Over the past decade all of the work by Valve on Linux gaming and really driving ahead those areas of the Linux stack has been superb with their upstream contractors working on projects from X.Org/Wayland to Mesa.

On the hardware vendor side, Dell's Project Sputnik has been a success for Ubuntu Linux on laptops, Lenovo continues to increase their Linux support/offerings on the consumer side, and HP has also been ramping up their Linux wares -- most recently with their HP Dev One that makes use of System76's Pop!_OS distribution. It will be interesting to see where that System76 and HP relationship leads and one of the areas I am most eager to see evolve over the coming months. Outside of the notable Linux offerings by hardware vendors, over the past 18 years there has been a steady albeit still small increase in Linux interest from the hardware vendors I deal with ranging from engineers to the media/PR side. Linux dominating HPC, Linux being the de facto default for machine learning / AI, and Linux for IoT has all helped this that only 18 years could only dream of. In this time we've also seen Microsoft even offering various software for Linux and more recently even publishing their own Linux distributions (e.g. CBL-Mariner) and their much talked about Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) these past few years.

Through this time has also been the development of the Phoronix Test Suite for leading open-source and Linux benchmarking and as part of open-source benchmarking the OpenBenchmarking.org portal. Together this has driven Linux performance benchmarking with today also marking 14 years since releasing Phoronix Test Suite 1.0.

Back in 2004 it was mostly about covering what hardware works or not under Linux to now more of a matter how well it performs under Linux and other caveats. It's been a remarkable journey for the Linux hardware ecosystem over this time.


Overclocking and other enthusiast-oriented features have improved a great deal under Linux too... The open-source community getting gaming mice/keyboards and peripherals reverse-engineered and supported is now quite common too. Unfortunately though in 2022 the official support from the hardware vendors for such Linux desktop peripheral device support is still quite limited.


Excluding the commercial success of Google Chrome OS / Chromebooks, Steam Decks, and Linux covertly on consumer devices, there really hasn't been the forever-hyped "year of the Linux desktop". Additionally, (outside of the server / HPC space), many hardware vendors aren't too interested in Linux from a traditional consumer desktop perspective. Linux just hasn't caught on with the masses with no compelling reason for most individuals to switch from macOS or Windows.

In turn this lack of a real "year of the Linux desktop" is what still leaves me single-handedly churning out 99% of the content on Phoronix for the lack of consumer hardware vendors being interested in pursuing any lucrative advertising interests on the site, etc. If just focusing on say Linux servers it would be much easier but there isn't too much commercial industry interest in the Linux desktop in 2022 with the unique Phoronix demographics. With ad-blockers being more common and widely-used today than 18 or even 10 years ago, it's made things actually more of a struggle now than in the early years of Phoronix.

For those that enjoy the daily, original content on Phoronix, thank you for your support. I hope you view the site without any ad-blocker otherwise hopefully you are a Phoronix Premium member. Phoronix Premium allows accessing the site ad-free, multi-page articles on a single page, and other benefits.

As part of the Phoronix 18th birthday is also a Phoronix Premium special for annual and lifetime memberships if you would like to show your support and help ensure a successful 19th year of Phoronix.com daily content. This birthday deal runs through 12 June.

As one last little tidbit for these 18th birthday thoughts, the last calendar day on Phoronix.com without any new, original content for an entire calendar day / 24 hour period was 20 May 2012... Just a few days back 10 years ago! Regardless of life or world events, there is work to be done each and every day. Yes, this has also meant more than some spelling mistakes and some other omissions in writing or analysis from being over-worked, but each and everyday I wake up committed to seeing the advancement of Linux hardware support. So perhaps that commitment is the greatest reason to consider joining Phoronix Premium to help support open-source news and Linux reviews/benchmarking or at least turning off your darn ad-blocker or following the latest content via Facebook and Twitter. Tips via PayPal are also accepted if that's your preference.

Thanks and back to Linux testing.
Related News
About The Author
Author picture

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

Popular News This Week