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It's not hard to find desktops that work well with Linux. However it is much harder to know which laptops will work without fault on say a Debian or Red Hat system. I recently ran into an issue with Intel GMA hardware on a Dell D420, after being reassured by most forums that it had no hardware issues with the current kernel that Debian uses. (Kernel 2.6.30 however works great, btw)

What resource would you recommend to quickly, easily, and accurately know what hardware will work well with a particular distribution? Or is it always a hit or miss approach?

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Hardware support will always be a moving target. There is just too many different hardware configurations out there to test all of them. The same applies to commercial OSs as well, they just have more resources to commit to testing. The best idea I've heard is to automatically collect configuration info and error logs from a user's machine when errors occur. This is what commercial OS's have resorted to and it's worked pretty well. For end users the best we can do is try out Live CDs before committing to install an OS. Unfortunately, space limits how many drivers can be provided on a CD. –  Kenneth Cochran Jul 31 '09 at 18:57
    
For commercial OS (read Windows) the HW maker also deliver drivers (the quality isn't always the best thought), that is not always (rarely) the case for linux (and others) –  Joakim Elofsson Jul 31 '09 at 20:42

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Check Linux hardware compatibility list http://www.linux-drivers.org/

http://www.ubuntuhcl.org/

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great resource. Must have been using the wrong search terms in google. :P –  jweede Jul 31 '09 at 18:43

2 list sites: linux.org/hardware/ linuxcompatible.org/compatibility.html

This is a little more user-friendly and helps you see general trends: http://linux.com/news/hardware/drivers/8203-is-my-hardware-linux-compatible-find-out-here

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You can check the hardware compatibility list at www.linuxdrivers.org

If you have time to spend, you can try using some live cd, like ubuntu or mandriva.

If the livecd run correctly, is a good sign that it will work at your system.

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I've had good experiences with TuxMobil. The site is nicely organized, so that you can choose a manufacturer and model, then follow links to see how specific distros and versions worked on that hardware. (The links go offsite to blogs, forums, etc. so the quality of reports will vary. However, I have found many to be very detailed and helpful.)

A similar site is Linux on Laptops. (Probably many of their links overlap, but just in case one has links the other doesn't, I'll post both.)

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