hi john a,
thanks for your interesting contribution, again. haven't read all the links, but will do when i've got some more time.
till now i've had good experiences with a hp laserjet 1018 (and a hp photosmart). they worked out of the box with several penguins.
alas the hp laserjet 1018
doesn't seem to work out of the box with pardus kurumsal 2, my default os.
for commercial reasons, i believe, most computer hardware is manufactured for two parties only/mainly.
so, the biggest problems are the closed source drivers, again... (or: as usual).
maybe the linux community should start working together in order to develop hardware that is made by their recommendations, focused on open source.
this way the open source world could, and should, take matters into its own hands and start 'negotiating' with hardware manufacturers themselves, no longer being dependent of what companies behind the scenes do or don't allow...
next step could be to sell them as an penguin certified brand (with tux logo, if torvalds agrees to that).
a bit more commercial marketing wouldn't harm the open source world at all, i think.