Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Canon and Linux

I've now been the proud owner of a Canon EOS 5D for a few years. I've never upgraded the firmware on it but tonight I thought I would investigate how complicated it was. I easily found the corresponding web page on the Canon web site. It seems easy enough: you get a .fir file that you put in the root directory of a newly formatted memory card and you then follow the upgrade procedure on the camera. All easy and simple. The only snag is that you get two version of the firmware package: a self-extracting .exe file for Windows or a .dmg package file for Mac OS-X. Both those options are proprietary so they don't work on Linux. Therefore, there is no way I can upgrade my firmware using my laptop. I could use the Mac desktop at home but I am not home right now. Furthermore, it's not even a software problem, it's just a packaging problem: there is nothing in the .exe or the .dmg apart from the automated unpacking. It would be so easy for Canon to offer a simple .zip file that can be extracted on any operating system. By any means, provide the proprietary formats for people who will benefit from them but also provide a generic format that can be used anywhere. So here is the complaint I registered on the Canon UK support site:

You offer firmware download on the Japanese site (http://web.canon.jp/imaging/eos5d/eos5d_firmware-e.html). Unfortunately, you only provide proprietary Windows and Mac packages. Using a Linux laptop, I cannot use those formats. If you were to offer a simple ZIP file for all other operating systems, it would enable all your users to update their firmware. As such, I feel treated like a second class citizen by Canon and it is very disappointing. I am happy to take complete responsibility for updating the firmware from a Linux machine but I would like to be given the option. Is there any way I can download a version of the latest firmware that can be extracted on Linux? If yes I would appreciate if you could provide me with the details of such a download.

We shall see if anything comes out of it. They promised to come back to me within 2 to 3 days. Then I went and filed a second complaint because their web site crashes when I try to log into it as a registered Canon customer but that's a whole different story.

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