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Linux Cookbook by Carla Schroder

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Chapter 5. Discovering Hardware from Outside the Box

Introduction

Linux comes with several good utilities for getting detailed information on what’s inside the box. You can sit down at a machine and in minutes have an inventory of all its components.

Not only do these utilities save you the hassle of opening the box and poking around, but they are invaluable for finding the correct drivers for a device, or finding out if it is supported in Linux at all. In a foolishly Windows-centric world, determining if a modem, NIC, or video card has Linux drivers usually requires that you know the chipset used in the device. There are a few chipsets that go into many brands and models. Some manufacturers change chipsets without changing model numbers, so don’t count on model numbers. Once you know the chipset, you can find drivers.

Hardware Compatibility Lists

Linux support for most PC hardware is quite good, as valiant Linux programmers continue to churn out drivers, often with little or no support from hardware manufacturers. But you still need to shop carefully. And even if a device has Linux drivers, it may not come with the nice management utilities, or complete feature set, that Windows users get.

Your first and best stop is the web site of your Linux distribution. Most of them have hardware compatibility lists (HCLs). If your particular flavor of Linux has no HCL, borrow one from another distribution. Whatever works on one Linux distribution should work on all of them. What differentiates ...

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