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Linux hardward support

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May 31, 2010 11:45:32 PM

This is a general and elementary question:

I built a basic home PC and have installed Ubuntu 10.04.

There's something I'm not clear on:

Do I need to always confirm Linux support when buying hardware and peripherals--like monitors, external hard drives and enclosures, external modems, flash drives, printers, scanners, etc?

The manufacturer's spec sheets seem inconsistent. Some mention Linux support; others don't, but users/reviewers say the device does work in Linux [this was the case with some external modems and external hard drive enclosures I saw on NewEgg]. Some monitors have the Windows7 sticker/icon, but say nothing about Linux. When I contacted Western Digital to confirm a hard drive would work, they gave me a very fuzzy noncommittal answer. Sounded like a politician.

Is it all a matter of drivers? I'm not clear on this, on what all the dependencies are, what I can assume and what I must explicitly confirm. Would appreciate some info and clarity about this--much thanks for info!





More about : linux hardward support

a b 5 Linux
June 1, 2010 12:53:27 AM

For the most part, the average piece of hardware will work just fine with Linux, especially Ubuntu/Fedora. As far as monitor, flash drives, modems, etc., these should all work just fine, and most of these products are plug 'n play. As far as printers, scanners, etc. go, it's somewhat dependent on the product. Most products will work, but there are still some that will not.

The first thing I usually do is read the specifications on NewEgg (or wherever you're shopping) in order to see if there are Linux-native drivers from the manufacture. This is essentially guaranteed compatibility. Next, I usually read some reviews (again on NewEgg if you wish) to try to see who (if anybody) is using Linux with these products. If somebody else has got it to work, then you should be able to get the product working as well. Lastly, if all else fails, I just do a quick Google search.

ex.) Western Digital Velociraptor Ubuntu

and just read around on various forums, articles, reviews, etc.

To recap, most hardware should "just work", especially simple things such as monitors, keyboards, mice, storage. If you do all three things mentioned above without any luck, then you can either A) Risk it and try it out, or B) Find a different product.

Hopefully that helps. :)  Good luck.
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June 1, 2010 2:08:55 PM

Thanks, Pyroflea. I also start w/NewEgg specs+reviews; also chk manufacturer's sites, download user manuals, chk knowledge base, etc.

Some manufacturers do "call out" and state Linux support; others seem cagey, reluctant to guarantee their product works in all Linux distros. Obviously it's more difficult to test all Linux distros than to test in Windows; and given Linux's tiny market share, the financial incentive is near-zero.

The US Robotics 5637 USB dialup modem, for example, states Linux support; but Rosewill's comparable modem doesn't. I've seen the same in external hard drive enclosures.

My Lite-On DVD drive [iHAS424] has "System Requirements" on the box stating only Windows, no mention of Linux--and I used this DVD drive to install Ubuntu from the LiveCD.

As a complete noob builder a few weeks ago, trying to be careful, double-chking compatibility for all components, I found this very confusing. Now as a partial noob [a second-semester freshman], it's clearer.

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a b 5 Linux
June 1, 2010 7:48:22 PM

tyler-9 said:
Some manufacturers do "call out" and state Linux support; others seem cagey, reluctant to guarantee their product works in all Linux distros. Obviously it's more difficult to test all Linux distros than to test in Windows; and given Linux's tiny market share, the financial incentive is near-zero.

The US Robotics 5637 USB dialup modem, for example, states Linux support; but Rosewill's comparable modem doesn't. I've seen the same in external hard drive enclosures.

My Lite-On DVD drive [iHAS424] has "System Requirements" on the box stating only Windows, no mention of Linux--and I used this DVD drive to install Ubuntu from the LiveCD.

As a complete noob builder a few weeks ago, trying to be careful, double-chking compatibility for all components, I found this very confusing. Now as a partial noob [a second-semester freshman], it's clearer.


Unfortunately it's kind of an interesting process, as I've said. Just because they don't say it will work in Linux, doesn't mean it won't. They either have not tested on Linux, and are unsure as to whether or not it's compatible, or are unaware as to whether or not there are proprietary drivers included in the specific distro that will work with their product.

Really the only major issues seem to be wireless chipsets, while most other pieces of hardware will work just fine if you work hard enough towards it.
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