Identifying Supported and Unsupported Hardware

Over the years, Linux has acquired an extensive collection of drivers for a wide variety of hardware. Nonetheless, Linux doesn't support every device. Figuring out which devices are supported and which aren't can be a challenge at times because Linux drivers are usually written for a device's chipset, not for a specific device by brand and model number. For instance, it's not obvious that the Linux Tulip driver works with the Linksys LNE100TX.

To identify what hardware is supported and what isn't, you may want to consult the hardware compatibility lists maintained by various distributions. For instance, http://hardware.redhat.com and http://www.suse.com/ us/support/hardware are good resources. The Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO (http://www.linuxdoc.org/HOWTO/Hardware-HOWTO) can also be an excellent resource.

Hardware compatibility varies very little from one distribution to another. The only differences result from one distribution including a non-standard driver that another doesn't include, or from peculiarities of configuration that result in conflicts between devices. Therefore, if a device is listed as supported in one distribution, that device will almost certainly work in any other distribution.

You should also check with the hardware's manufacturer if you can't find drivers or aren't sure which drivers to use. Some manufacturers include Linux drivers (usually just the standard kernel drivers) or links to information about Linux compatibility with their products on their Web pages.

Manufacturers sometimes change their products' design without changing their names. Therefore, the presence of a product on a compatibility database, or even compatibility information on the manufacturer's Web site, may not mean that the device will work. Pay careful attention to details like a board's revision number when you are searching for compatibility information.

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