Linux supports more devices today than ever before, but buying new hardware is always a gamble, so here’s how to buy hardware for Linux on Amazon.comand be sure it works when you get it.
5 Types of Hardware You Can Buy For Linux On Amazon.com Without Fear
Any common device which uses a standard interface is hardware you can buy for Linux on Amazon.com because it will already by be well supported. For example,
- PATA and SATA Disk Drives work great on Linux. Many hardware benchmarks show Linux getting better performance out of disk drives than Windows or any other operating system. This may surprise anyone who tried to use SATA drives with Linux around 2005 when SATA was relatively new and Linux didn’t have full support. Today, Linux supports every common SATA chipset. Also external hard drives work well with Linux.
- VGA and LCD Monitors (also HDMI and DisplayPort screens on recent distributions) work great on Linux too, but this should be no surprise as specifications for both types of monitors are fairly old and fairly simple. One wrinkle is that some graphics cards don’t support all resolutions, so you may have to settle for less than the monitor’s max resolution.
- Basic Keyboards and Mice whether PS/2 or USB enjoy excellent Linux support. Linux supports common extended keys on keyboards, but many keyboards use non-standard codes, so a few extended keys may not work. Linux supports mice with up to 7 buttons; to enable more buttons, you may need special software.
- USB Hubs all use a standard protocol well supported by Linux.
- USB Mass Storage Devices such as mini- and full-sized USB disk drives work great. Many other devices use USB mass storage support, but some devices don’t—so research is often required for cameras, voice recorders, and digital music players.
How To Research and Buy Hardware for Linux on Amazon.com
Basic hardware research on Amazon.com is really easy. Find the hardware you’re interested on Amazon, scroll to the customer feedback section, and look for the input box labeled, “Search Customer Reviews.” In the box, type “Linux” and click “Go”. In the results, see if anyone else got it to work with Linux. If they did—great! Now you can buy this hardware for Linux on Amazon.com.
The method described above works best with hardware with dozens or hundreds of reviews—usually the more people who review a product, the greater chance of your finding a fellow Linux user. About 3% of all computer users use Linux, so products with 33 or more reviews should have at least one Linux user. But sometimes the product you’re looking for doesn’t have any Linux reviews, so what do you do next?
The first thing you may want to do is look at competing products. If it costs just $2 extra for a Linux-compatible product, you may want to spend the extra money to save you time and frustration researching whether or not the cheaper product works with Linux. If you still can’t find a review on Amazon.com, search Google to see if it knows about any reviews. Just open a new window or tab in your Web browser and type in the product name and the word “Linux”. Look for mailing list and forum posts where people said it worked, even if it took some extra time to setup. It may work for you now without any extra setup—pioneering users often contribute software patches which automate setup.
If you find old mailing list messages and forum posts from people who couldn’t get it to work, you can try one of my favorite tricks: email the person who wrote the message and ask them if they ever got it to work. In my experience, 9 times out of 10, I get a response back with a definitive answer. You can also use the above advice with reviews on Amazon.com’s customer reviews: when you see an older review saying the device doesn’t work on Linux, you can post a comment on that review asking, “Did you ever get this to work on Linux?” Amazon.com will forward your comment to the customer and he or she will probably give you an updated answer. Even if they don’t, some other customer may see your comment and answer your questions for you.
Buy Hardware for Linux on Amazon.com and Sell It On eBay
If you really must try the hardware on Linux and you’re not afraid to lose a few dollars, you can buy the hardware for Linux on Amazon.com and, if it doesn’t work, you can try returning it. Amazon.com doesn’t like opened packages, so if they refuse your return, you have one more option: sell the barely-used hardware on eBay. I usually get a good price for recent hardware on eBay, but I can’t guarantee your auctions will go so well. Be sure to mention that the product has been used—although feel free to say “used only once.”
What To Do After You Buy Hardware For Linux On Amazon.com
If you buy hardware for Linux on Amazon.com and no other Linux user has written a review yet, please—I beg you—please leave customer feedback. You don’t have to write much, just let your fellow Linux users know whether the hardware works and, if you feel like, exactly what you did to make the hardware work on Linux. That way they too can buy hardware for Linux on Amazon.com.