I'll reply to my own message to point out that my problem with FlightGear's joystick handling in Linux is not unique: Roy Vegard Ovesen noted the same root cause of this problem a few weeks ago in a posting to this list:
I have the same problem here with my Sidewinder Precision Pro joystick.
And i tested it on Linux and Windows and this problem occurs on both platforms.
I took a quick look in the plib CVS to see if I could see an equally-obvious problem with the Windows-specific part of the code, but nothing popped out at me. Hopefully an active plib developer will take this ball and run with it.
Frederic already asked about it on the plib list last week. Hopefully it will be included soon.
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