How To: (More or Less) Learn if Your Hardware Will Work With Linux

One of the most frequently asked questions from new people is them wondering if their hardware will work with Linux. This article will help you find out if your hardware will work with Linux.

That’s right, this article aims to tackle a frequently asked question – but there’s some limitations and wiggle-room. That’s why the title of the article contains (More or Less). It’s not 100% accurate.

The usual, and most basic way to find out if your hardware will work with Linux is to simply download the .iso you intend to use, boot to it, and test it. If it works in a live environment, it probably will work when you install it. If you needed to add additional boot parameters (like nomodeset) to run the live instance, you’re probably going to need to do the same thing when you install Linux.

That works well enough, but it doesn’t tell you anything about long-term problems. It doesn’t tell you if there’s going to be an IRQ issue many hours after booting, it doesn’t tell you if there will be some obscure ACPI errors, and it doesn’t tell you exactly how well your hardware will work with Linux.

You can do better than that. With a little effort, you can learn all about your hardware and how well your hardware will work with Linux. It’s pretty painless and easy.

Learn If Your Hardware Work With Linux:

So, the first thing you need to do is download the .iso and write it to USB or to DVD. You can also do this after the fact, with an already-installed Linux. This article assumes you’ve got a running Linux and you’re connected to the Internet. 

It also assumes that you have a terminal window open. If you don’t have one open, you can probably open one by using your keyboard. Just press CTRL + ALT + T and up should open your default terminal emulator. Yes, this should work just fine even in a live environment.

The tool we want for this is ‘hw-probe’, put out by the good people behind It is almost certainly in your default repositories and can be installed in the usual manner. For example, if you’re using a distro with apt, then it’d be installed with:

You’ll have to adjust the installation command for the distro you’re using. You may also need to use a root password, which will vary based on the distro.

You can also find it in Snap, AppImage, and Flatpak versions here.

Once you have it installed, you will want to run the following command (and know that you will be sharing this data with the project):

That will take a little while to run, but not terribly long. It will output some text similar to this:

The important bit is the “Probe URL”. For this particular run, you’ll see the URL is:

If you follow my example URL, you’ll see that everything more or less works – but that some of the hardware has some known problems. You can click through those to learn about what sort of problems you’ll have getting your hardware to work with Linux.

NOTE: Just because there are known problems doesn’t mean that the hardware doesn’t work. You need to click through and read the results to learn what sort of problems you’re potentially going to face. In some cases, the problems only exist with certain kernels (for example) and are resolved with newer kernels. Again, you’ll need to read through and verify the data. The data is pretty accurate, but the human element means it is not infallible. 

As you can now surmise, this isn’t 100% accurate. Quite often, there will be known problems but your hardware will work with Linux just fine – but maybe not at peak functionality due to an inferior driver. Be on the lookout for things like that.

What it does do is it gives you some more fine-grained information so that you can make a more informed decisions. It’s a guide, not a rule-book. At the end of the day, if Linux is up and working on your live instance, it’s probably going to work just fine when it has been installed.


And there you have it. Another article in the books. This one helps you find out if your hardware works with Linux. If you have any ideas for articles, be sure to let me know. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends!

If you want, you can unblock ads, donate, sign up to contribute, write an article, or sign up for the newsletter below. (I should move that to the top. I’ll do that when I’ve given it enough time to see if folks respond.) Thanks for reading and there will be another article in a couple of days!

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What it’s Like To Beta-test Linux, Specifically Lubuntu

You may not think so, but everyone can meaningfully help their favorite distro. Someone has to beta-test Linux, and most everyone can do so. Here’s one way that you can help.

You don’t have to be a programmer, being able to code isn’t mandatory. It’s not even a requirement that you have spare hardware to test with. Going gung-ho and testing daily isn’t even a requirement. You just need to have some time that you’re willing to give back to the projects that have given you so much.

I don’t tend to do half-measures, so I’ve thrown myself into the task. The amount of learning I’ve done since starting is probably the most I’ve done since I was just a Linux beginner. If you like learning, then your ability to help knows no bounds.

Why I Beta-test Linux:

About a year ago, I learned why Ubuntu stopped offering 32 bit versions. It wasn’t because 32 bit was old, nor was it because the devs hate 32 bit systems. The reason they stopped supporting 32 bit systems was because there were too few people willing to test on 32 bit systems.

Now, I don’t actually use any 32 bit hardware. In fact, I haven’t used 32 bit hardware since pretty much the first day 64 bit hardware hit the market. I had empathy for those who had to move to a shrinking pool of distro choices. I also realized that it could happen again, for other hardware or software.

That’s when I realized that I could do my part. It is when I decided that I’d look into the process. After some investigation, I made it known publicly that I’d be testing. By making the claim that I’d do so, it forced my hand into actually following through. The claim was made to them as much for their sake as it was for mine.

I’ve done it ever since. It takes maybe an hour per day to do it, and to do it well. I test on at least two different pieces of hardware, file my reports, and go on about my day. Sometimes I get more involved and test other things, but my usual activities are just testing the daily build.

How I Beta-test Linux:

This will, of course, be different for you – unless you want to beta test Lubuntu. In which case, this is pretty much how you’d do it. Though your method may still be different. My testing is “just” the live instances of Lubuntu.

The live testing is actually the longer of the two types of tests. If you’re doing the installation tests, you basically just install and make sure it reboots, perhaps ensuring internet connectivity works out of the box. If nothing breaks, you’re done.

Every day, at about 13:30 my time, I start refreshing the testing tracker URL. (That link is time sensitive. It won’t be the same for the next cycle. It’s largely for illustration anyhow.) What I’m looking for is the date to change on the download. When that changes, I know there’s a new daily build for me to test.

You don’t actually have to do this every day. You can do it when you have time, or closer to the end of the release cycle. You set the time and schedule.

When the date changes and there’s a new daily build, I use the zsync option to save bandwidth. Using zsync means I’m only downloading the parts of the image that have changed. I not only do this on one computer, I do it on another computer. As mentioned above, I test twice.

While I’m there, I also download the new manifest. The manifest is a list of all the files that are in the image (.iso, of course) and I use it to ‘diff‘ against the previous manifest. This tells me what has changed and what needs more attention and testing.

It’s at this time that I start filing my reports. Those will vary and depend on what your distro of choice is using. Mine are generally pretty basic and short, unless I find something amiss. If there’s something amiss, then that requires proper testing and bug reporting. That happens with less frequency than you might imagine, but it’s essential that you follow conventions and properly report bugs in a manner that the developers can use.

Later, those reports get closed, using a process where I mark the test as ‘in progress’ while testing and then close them as passed or failed when I’m done. Each report contains a list of existing bugs and any newly found bugs.

The Actual Beta-testing Linux:

When the two files are downloaded and reports opened as in progress, I’m ready to actually begin. On one machine, I’ll start writing the daily .iso to a USB drive and on the other I’ll use it to start a fully prepared virtual machine.

The testing done on both is remarkably similar. I also undertake the live testing and, as I said near the top, that one takes the most time. You’ll see why…

As I’m testing the live instance, the first two things I check and change are the screen resolution and the keyboard layout. Those will be the first two changes people are likely to make in a live environment, and so they’re the first two things I change and check.

The next task is checking the existing bugs. For example, there’s a bug in the terminal where it won’t actually open with the presets (two horizontal or vertical terminals). Another is a wonderfully odd LibreOffice bug that appears to have existed for quite a while before I noticed it. I’ll explain the LibreOffice bug and show it to you.

To trigger the bug, open every LibreOffice application up in order. If they stop appearing in the task bar after you’ve opened Impress, then you’re likely going to be able to trigger the bug. After they’re all opened, select the “Vivid” template in Impress – and watch all of the LibreOffice applications crash one after the other.

Watch, full screen should work if needed:

This particular bug was discovered because of how I do the testing. Nobody seems to know what the cause is and it doesn’t appear in every distro – but it appears, or manifests itself in some way, in a variety of distros. (I’ve tested, of course!)

So, once I’m sure that the existing bugs are still there, I do the rest of my testing. This means I open the menu, start at the top, and open everything. I don’t open them all at once, I open them by segments. First, I open all the Accessories, then Internet, then Graphics and Video, etc. applications at once. I make sure they all open and that they all close.

When there is a change noted by the diff I mentioned earlier, I make sure to check that application even more. I also pick a half-dozen, maybe a dozen, other applications to test more thoroughly. For those, it isn’t just checking to see that they open and close, I check that they do things like open the appropriate files, their preferences work, and that the application does the job it was meant to do.

Most of the time, there’s nothing doing. It’s exactly the same as it was the day before. Those days are the easiest. You just file the reports and you’re done for the day. If there are new bugs, you have a bunch more work to do. 

In the case of a new bug, you need to file a proper bug report. More importantly, you need to make sure it’s a bug. To do this, you’ll test against everything you can think of. You’ll even test against other distros to see if the bug also exists in those distros. It is also worth installing the beta (preferably in a VM) to test to see if the bug is in both the installed and in the live instance. You want to narrow it down as much as you can, making it easier for the devs to fix.

The forms and paperwork you’ll be doing will vary. They won’t be just like the Lubuntu system, which is based on the Ubuntu system. You’ll need to connect with someone on the team, someone familiar with the process, to make sure you’re doing it right.

In my case, I call my connection my ‘mentor’, though that can sometimes be a formal term. They’ll need to be someone you get along with, because you’re going to interact with them fairly often as you learn the ropes. You’ll need to be patient, as they’re not always available and often have other tasks that they’re working on.

From my observations, you’ll really enjoy it. The people involved in these projects are all just humans. They want you to help. If you don’t want to beta-test, just let them know that you have some free time and let them know what skills you have in your toolbox. There’s always something you can do.

They may find a niche for you doing documentation, doing bug triage, answering support questions, keeping track of task-completion, or any number of things. Just contact the distro team, let them know you want to help, and they’ll find a use for you.


You can make a meaningful difference. By taking part, you can make your favorite distro even better. It needn’t be a distro, it could just be a project you use and understand. The people writing ‘inxi’ can use your help, ‘Shutter’ too, or even ‘GIMP’ or ‘Blender’. Pick one and jump right in!

Seriously… Getting involved is easy! Even if it’s just you noticing and reporting a bug, you can meaningfully impact the software that you use every day. You can make a difference, and you can make it better.

The amount of time you donate is up to you. It needn’t be quite like the one to two hours I spend daily, it can be just a couple of hours a week. The choice is for you to make and it needs to fit your schedule.

As always, thanks for reading. Don’t forget that you can unblock ads, donate, write articles, and sign up for the newsletter. You already know that I appreciate the feedback. There will be a new article in just a couple of days.

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Dealing With Duplicates In Your Bash History

Your Bash history can be a valuable tool when you mess up and need to retrace your steps to find out what went wrong. It’s in your best interest to keep it from getting cluttered.

Some of my readers are fairly new to Linux, so you may not know that you have a Bash history. Well, you probably do. It’s helpfully called .bash_history and it’s a hidden file in your home directory. You can open it with a text editor if you want.

See, every time you write a command into the terminal (unless you take steps to avoid it) that command is stored in a hidden file called .bash_history. The period at the start of the file name means that it’s a hidden file and you’ll need to enable hidden file viewing in your file manager. (It’s quite frequently F4 or under the ‘View’ menu.)

If you open your terminal (press CTRL + ALT + T) and push the up arrow on your keyboard, you’ll see the last command you used in your terminal. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you’ll see the bottom-most entry in your .bash_history.

If you use your terminal a lot, you’ll have duplicates. It’s just a fact of life. Many commands will be run multiple times, such as performing updates. These clutter up your history and just waste space. You don’t have to keep the duplicates, or even allow duplicates.

De-dupe .bash_history

First, let’s disable duplicates and delete them if they do somehow occur. To do this, you’re going to edit your .bashrc file. As you can see by the . at the start of the file name, the file is hidden by default. You can use the GUI file manager and favorite text editor. Enable viewing hidden files, and just add the following line to the very bottom of that file.

Save it, of course.

If you want, you can do it right in the terminal. Open the terminal with the directions above and enter the following command:

Notice how there’s no use of ‘sudo’? That’s because you already own these files and you don’t need elevated permissions to edit them. 

Anyhow, use the down arrow and then paste in the text above, just as though you were editing it in your favorite text editor. Then, go ahead and save it by pressing CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER.

There… Now Bash should ignore duplicates and erase any new duplicates that it finds.

All well and good?


I mean, it’s not like you just installed your OS today and have a sparkling clean bash history. No, if you’re like me, you’ve probably got a bunch of clutter in there and all sorts of duplicated content. So, you’re going to want to clear those already existing duplicates out as well.

Seeing as you’re already in the terminal, you can use the following command that I once found online and saved to my notes:

That right there will go ahead and remove any duplicates that it finds in your bash history. You might want to make a backup of the file before trying that command – but I’ve used it so many times that I have complete faith in it. So far, it has only removed duplicates and not broken anything. (Pay most of your attention to the use of awk in the command if you’re wondering how it works.)

And, there you have it. You should have a nice .bash_history that isn’t full of duplicates. I’ve been known to open the file manually and run through it to remove stuff I’m never going to use again, commands that I’ve gotten wrong, or commands that are no longer of any use. 


I should also mention that I have been using the (mostly) same history file for a long time. You save it and import it on new computers that will run the same operating system. Personally, I use my bash history fairly often and I like the consistency. I also do the same with my aliases, but that’s a topic for another day.

By the way, if you don’t want to have your command stored in the history, the easiest way to avoid it (on a command-by-command basis) is just to put a space in front of it. The system doesn’t care that there’s a leading space, except to use it as a cue to not store the command in your history. If you’re entering sensitive data into your terminal, you might want to consider that. If it’s just a junk command that you’re never going to see again, you might want to consider that.

Finally, thanks for reading. I appreciate the audience and I enjoy getting my notes online. The new domain is going well and we’ll soon be getting some of the older content transferred. It’s just a bunch of tedious work. I’d ask for help, but there’s not a whole lot anyone can do to help. I’ll just have to find the time to do it. Don’t forget the newsletter! 

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Welcome to Our New Home!

Starting very soon, there will be content posted here. It looks like I’m ahead of schedule and I’ve done all the debugging that I can do without content and users, so tomorrow will be when the first article gets published.

The old site was fine, but search engines don’t like that domain and email service providers liked it even less. So, with any luck, we’ll be good to go at our new domain.

You may want to sign up for the newsletter, as I’ve not yet transferred anybody’s information. The same rules (for me) apply as before. I will not sell, trade, or share your email address with anyone. Your personal data belongs to you and if you share it with me then I’ll continue to treat it with the utmost respect.

The old Paste exists, but I’ve also made a new PasteBin for this domain. As the old Paste was seldom used, it’ll be shut down sometime soon. Nobody really used it, except for me. So, it may have been a waste of time to set up a new one. I did it anyhow. If nothing else, I use it from time to time! (I find I mostly use it when I want to quickly share text with a different computer – both my own and others.)

The old domain also had a chat, that was never published, but there could be one here if there’s both interest and a willingness from someone who wants to moderate said chat. If there’s no interest, I’ll not bother devoting time and space to it.

As I was saying at the start of this, publication will begin again tomorrow. In fact, the first article is already scheduled. We’ll see if I can keep up the same publication schedule as I had with the previous site.

There’s a ton of content that I still want to get online. Linux is great like that. There’s a lot to learn and there’s always something new to learn. I look forward to your comments and contributions. There’s always room for more people to get involved. If you’re looking to help others grow in their Linux knowledge, this is a fine place to do so.

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