Top 3 Websites To Check Whether Your Hardware Is Supported By Linux

Ads by Google

hardware supported by ubuntuIf you’ve ever used Linux, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of hardware works straight out of the box, no questions asked. No motherboard drivers need to be installed, no ethernet drivers, in most cases no wireless drivers, and not even graphics drivers (depending on your stance on open source vs. proprietary). In this sense, Linux definitely offers a plug-and-play experience above Windows, and (as far as I know) it challenges Mac OS X‘s capabilities as well.

However, no operating system will have support for every single piece of hardware out of the box, and it’s important to know which ones have that support. There’s always a driver for that piece of Windows hardware, but with Linux, you do not have that guarantee, so the overall hardware support (including additional drivers you can download) is smaller.

You can figure out, however, which pieces of hardware do have Linux support by checking hardware databases.

Ubuntu Certified

hardware supported by ubuntu

Ubuntu, one of the most popular Linux distributions, has enough commercial backing to make some things happen with OEMs. The result is simple – OEMs and Canonical (the company that backs Ubuntu) can work together to offer desktops, laptops, netbooks, and servers that are 100% guaranteed to work with Ubuntu, no questions asked. These systems that are extensively tested and are proven to work get Canonical’s “Ubuntu Certified” label.

You can find out what those systems are by going to this page for the list of “Ubuntu Certified” computers.

Ads by Google

Ubuntu Components List

hardware supported by linux

I’m cheating just a little bit, but Ubuntu also has another resource for those who don’t already have an “Ubuntu Certified” computer. If you’d rather look for specific parts, you can look at Ubuntu’s component catalog and see if it is part of the list. If so, it’ll also tell you the oldest release that has support for it (by running the latest version you should not have to worry about support as long as it appears on the list).

Please remember that the list is not entirely inclusive, and similar products will probably have support as well (for example, if say the list included the AMD Radeon HD 6950, it will most likely support the AMD Radeon HD 6970 as well).

Also, if you know a thing of two about hardware, try to use a little geek common sense. Bluetooth headsets should work just fine provided your system has Bluetooth capabilities, and basic keyboards should do the same, no matter what model. Video cards (except maybe the bleeding edge ones) should also work no matter what type of driver you settle with.

Linux-Drivers.org Compatibility Lists

hardware supported by linux

Last but not least, we always need an outside source other than Ubuntu. While hardware supported on one distribution will most likely be supported on all other distributions, it’s best to check other sources that may claim Linux support for certain hardware that other lists simply left out. Linux-Drivers is a great resource which doesn’t provide its own list but links to many different lists that are specialized in some fashion.

You can then look at specific laptop hardware, specific distributions, video cards, and much more. If you find your hardware in any of those lists, there’s a high chance it’ll work.

Use Google As A Last Resort

hardware supported by ubuntu

Last but not least, use Google. This is probably the cheesiest tip I can offer, but it does help a lot. If you can find your hardware in any of the lists I’ve mentioned, you can always do a Google search such as “radeon 6950 linux” or “radeon 6950 ubuntu”, depending if you want to be generic or distribution specific. Most likely, you’ll come across a forum thread that will discuss your piece of hardware and its support status.

If you still cannot find your piece of hardware, maybe you should get something else as it seems there is virtually no support for it from anyone.

Conclusion

Hopefully you’ll be better informed before you go out and buy a piece of hardware, knowing whether or not it will work properly under Linux. I personally haven’t had to check often before I go and buy something, but it’s always good to be sure, especially if you’re not as knowledgeable about hardware. Just don’t forget to enjoy Linux when everything runs smoothly.

What kind of hardware issues have you experienced with Linux? How did you fix them? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: lastquest

Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
Master the Linux Command Line
Master the Linux Command Line
35 Members
Best Linux Apps
Best Linux Apps
34 Members
Linux for New Switchers
Linux for New Switchers
33 Members
Linux Distros Talk
Linux Distros Talk
26 Members
Ads by Google
Comments (14)
  • Scutterman

    I’ll definitely be using these next time I’m crazy enough to try Linux. As for previous problems with Linux hardware (two different installs, and in no particular order)…

    * On boot (every boot) the screen would be black until I adjusted contrast or brightness by one point, then would be normal

    * Getting multiple monitors to do anything other than something simple is next to impossible

    * Couldn’t get my DisplayLink adapter to work at all

    * The partition corrupted

    * An update to Ubuntu made it decide to give up on booting permanently.

    * Unity (not a hardware issue, just a massive annoyance).

  • Anon

    Years ago, I used to use http://www.linux-laptop.net to check on laptops before buying them. They often had tuning tips, too.

  • emariz

    Debian Hardware Checklist
    http://kmuto.jp/debian/hcl/

  • Jacob Larsen

    When it comes to drivers, Windows has the same problem with unsupported hardware due to missing drivers, it is just a slightly different area. Often, obscure peripherals like scanners etc. from smaller vendors(who might be closed/merged even) will not get updated drivers when a new major release of Windows arrives, which means that when people e.g. buy a new computer with a new Windows version on it, they also need to buy new peripherals (or if they are lucky, a few days of Google searches might get them an unofficial driver, but the level of complexity resembles the old “compile your own kernel” area). On Linux, once some piece of hardware has entered the “plug’n’play” state, it pretty much stays there.

    • Danny Stieben

      Oh that’s true! I never thought of it that way…

  • anynomyous

    another hardware compatibility issue to consider with new PCs in the future is whether linux can be installed at all…
    because as I understand it then Microsoft has this new requirement that QEMs that want to install Windows must use a bios that will not allow use of anything but Windows.

    • Danny Stieben

      Ah yes! I believe they’re calling it Secure Boot. Apparently it uses a UEFI protocol instead of a Windows 8 feature, so it’s up to the manufacturers to decide whether only Windows is allowed. Hopefully most manufacturers will be good enough to not block Linux.

Load 10 more
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.