Question Linux hardware compatibility

Nov 30, 2020
It would be very helpful if Tom’s Hardware when doing hardware reviews could do a quick and basic Linux compatibility test by booting a live Linux USB flash drive to see if the hardware is recognized.

A web search will quickly locate bootable live Linux downloadable iso files for many of the major Linux distros. If you downloaded the latest live Linux distro for any of the major Linux distros which are frequently updated several times a year (Mint or openSUSE, for example), you can easily install it on a USB 3.0 flash drive and quickly boot up a PC. This should take no more than ten minutes on a modern PC and you could say in your review something like “This [hardware device] is recognized by a Linux 5.4 kernel.”

If you boot a live Linux version with KDE (such as the KDE version of openSUSE Live Linux or Mint Cinnamon), you can open the Info Center app or System Info app which will quickly show you if Linux can recognize almost any hardware device.

Linux is actually compatible with a much wider range of hardware than people realize because many hardware devices these days are built to industry-wide standards and, if Linux supports the standard, any hardware device which conforms to the standard will work. More and more hardware manufacturers are listing Linux support on their packaging and websites, but many hardware devices which do not list Linux compatibility are actually compatible and Tom’s Hardware would provide a much appreciated service for Linux users to include a quick basic compatibility test in your reviews.

Mint Cinnamon 20 currently has the 5.4 Linux kernel while openSUSE Leap 15.2 has the 5.3 kernel. Both are updated regularly with many device drivers backported from newer Linux kernels so they are both good tests of current Linux hardware compatibility.

Both openSUSE and Mint have tools which report the hardware devices which the Linux kernel recognizes and has device drivers for.

Mint has Menu (in lower left hand corner) > Administration > System Reports > System Information and openSUSE has Menu > System > System Info.

These tools will indicate whether video cards, network card, web cams, USB devices, and many other types of hardware have device drivers in the Linux kernel being used by the live Linux distro.

You don’t have to be a Linux expert to run these tests and it’s easy and quick.

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