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Troubleshooting your (Linux) Hardware

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Troubleshooting your (Linux) Hardware

 

I. When buying hardware:

 

a ) avoid *very* old and *very* new hardware if you can

b ) check if the product description mentions anything about Linux support

c ) check the hardware compatibility database of your distribution before you buy it. Every major Linux distro has one. You can find Mandriva's database here: www.mandriva.com/en/hardware

d ) Check for experiences of other people that have this hardware; ask around on forums and search Google's 'Linux pages': www.google.com/linux

 

 

* Appendix A: lists of support hardware for Linux

1 - General lists:

www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/docs/HOWTO/Hardware-HOWTO

www.linuxhardware.net/

Linuxcompatible Compatibility Database (scroll down for Search function)

LinuxQuestions HW Compatibility List

Leenooks Incompatibility list

 

2 - Wireless devices:

www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Jean_Tourrilhes/Linux

 

* Other cards that arent listed - through Ndiswrapper

ndiswrapper.sf.net

* List of known working ndiswrapper cards

ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/joomla/index.php?/component/option,com_openwiki/Itemid,33/id,list

 

3 - Scanners:

www.sane-project.org

 

4 - (ALSA) audio:

www.alsa-project.org/

 

5 - USB:

www.qbik.ch/usb/devices/

www.linux-usb.org/devices.html

 

6 - Printers:

www.linux-foundation.org/en/OpenPrinting

 

7 - Linux on Laptops

www.linux-on-laptops.com/

 

 

* Appendix B: hardware forums

1 - Nvidia's Linux forums: www.nvnews.net

 

II. Before installing your Operating System

 

Before you actually install your operating system, you can get a feel for how well your hardware works with a LiveCD of that distribution. To list a few:

 

LiveCD - Based on

----------------------

Mandriva One - Mandriva

PCLinuxOs - Mandriva

Mepis - Debian

Knoppix - Debian

LinspireLive - Debian

Ubuntu LiveCD - Debian

SuSe LiveCD - SuSe

Slax - Slackware

 

Note that even if something does not appear to work, with some effort, you usually *can* get it to work. Even if you cannot, you will have learned more about your system and about computers. In the worst case, you can buy other hardware that *is* compatible if you do not mind doing so.

 

III. Hardware problems

 

a ) Check if all cables, plugs and other components are in the right position an the right state (on/off, 0/1, volume of your speakers loud enough, ...)

 

b ) Make a list with hardware that does and that does not work. Number them according to priority (for you).

 

c ) Start with troubleshooting the problem with the highest priority, then work your way down. E.g. it is not really important your sound does not work when you can hardly read the fonts on your screen.

 

d ) Check if the hardware device works in another operating system. E.g. if you dual-boot, you could check if it works in Windows or MacOSx; you could also check if it works with a liveCD (see point II. at the top of this post) based on the same or on another distribution.

 

Also do:

1 - check if the product description mentions something about Linux support

2 - check the hardware compatibility database of your distribution. You can find Mandriva's database here: www.mandriva.com/en/hardware

 

Advanced users might want to check out these articles:

1 - Linux hardware stability guide, Part 1: www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/library/l-hw1

2 - Linux hardware stability guide, Part 2: www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/library/l-hw2.html

 

e ) determine your problem: write down any feedback you see. What happens; what do you see? Is this a persistent problem or a random one? If it seems random, does it occur in certain circumstances (e.g. "my screen always freezes when I start program X"). Try to run your program in a console (e.g. Konsole for KDE, Xterm for other Window Managers like IceWM), as you will often get useful feedback on the command line.

 

One of the most common problems with non-functional hardware is that you do not have the correct driver installed. Check the product description of the hardware you bought (manual or online), check the hardware database of your distribution (see point d) for this) and search for information on the internet (see point f) and point g) for this).

 

f ) Check for experiences of other people that have this piece of hardware; ask around on forums and search Google's 'Linux pages': http://www.google.com/linux ; look at their proposed solutions. Use the search button of this forum.

 

g ) with the information you have now, try to solve your problem. If you do not understand, now is the time to ask around on forums, irc and chat, mailing lists, ...

1 - You might want to read Eric Raymond's article "How to ask questions the smart way": www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

2 - be persistent. Do not give up. Consider it a chance to learn something.

3 - do not rush. if you still feel uncomfortable using Linux, or a command line (sometimes you will have to use it to help solve your problems), take your time to get comfortable with your Linux system.

 

h ) In the event you really *cannot* get something to work, you can buy other hardware that *is* compatible if you do not mind doing so.

 

[Links updated 28 November 2007]

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Some extra links:

 

for scanners:

http://www.mostang.com/sane/sane-supported-devices.html

 

for printers:

http://www.linuxprinting.org

 

for (ALSA) audio:

http://www.alsa-project.org

 

for all kinds of usb devices:

http://www.qbik.ch/usb/devices/

 

 

A very important thing that often gets overlooked, or at least, that usually doesn't get the attention that it deserves is this: you get to vote with your dollar (euro, franc, whatever). Please vote for the companies that do support Linux. This is the only way to improve Linux hardware support.

So, whenever you are shopping for a device, check which vendors have most (and / or the most recent ones) of their devices supported under Linux.

Check on the websites that work on drivers for those types of devices (see links above) and see if they recommend certain brands. Those developers have firsthand experience with the companies support, willingness to provide information to be able to code drivers, etc.

If you buy devices of 'Linux friendly' companies, and enough others do so, it pays off for them to be (or become) 'Linux friendly'.

Edited by aRTee

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Thank you aRTee

 

 

Edit: I added those links into the main post. I realize now I should've done that right away. Anyway, they are there now.

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I think it is an extremely good topic. In fact I wish Eric Raymonds article could be something like a READ THIS BEFORE YOU ASK ANYTHING BEFORE GOING ANYWHERE ELSE on the list. I am not trying to offend anyone with the large type on that statement, just that is how I think it should be seen when someone is looking for help; you know like "start here first".

 

Later. Pepse.

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Here are some more links for hte wireless page.

 

heres the proper homepage for the wireless link already -- that one you have only has pre/early 802.11 cards. Main page has current and more complete list.

http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Jean_Tourrilhes/Linux/

 

Other cards that arent listed - through Ndiswrapper

http://ndiswrapper.sf.net/

list of known working ndiswrapper cards

http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/phpwiki...c4fb52ef70c54ad

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I think it is an extremely good topic. In fact I wish Eric Raymonds article could be something like a READ THIS BEFORE YOU ASK ANYTHING BEFORE GOING ANYWHERE ELSE on the list. I am not trying to offend anyone with the large type on that statement, just that is how I think it should be seen when someone is looking for help; you know like "start here first".

Thanks Pepse!

 

 

Here are some more links for hte wireless page.

 

heres the proper homepage for the wireless link already -- that one you have only has pre/early 802.11 cards. Main page has current and more complete list.

http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Jean_Tourrilhes/Linux/

 

Other cards that arent listed - through Ndiswrapper

http://ndiswrapper.sf.net/

list of known working ndiswrapper cards

http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/phpwiki...c4fb52ef70c54ad

 

- Okay, I replaced the Jean Tourrilhes one and added the ndiswrapper links. Thanks!

 

 

Linux USB Device Driver Support

http://www.linux-usb.org/devices.html

 

Linux on Laptop

 

http://www.linux-on-laptops.com/

 

Thanks for the links Aoshin! They're now added! :D

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I think users should also avoid ATI video cards, as the drivers for them are not particularly good with Linux in general (at least on a laptop, anyway)..

 

I did hear that nVIDIA cards are extremely compatible with Linux, however.

 

-C

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I think users should also avoid ATI video cards, as the drivers for them are not particularly good with Linux in general (at least on a laptop, anyway)..

 

I did hear that nVIDIA cards are extremely compatible with Linux, however.

 

-C

 

Not only on laptops. I simply can't get my Sapphire's Radeon X800Pro to work properly with the latest ATI drivers. Still no 3D acceleration :(

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