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If I install Linux on a USB stick using computer A, then plug it into computer B with different hardware and try to boot and work on it, should I generally expect it to work? Or should I rather accept that Linux, when installed (as opposed to using Live CD/USB), gets tied to the hardware and is generally not supposed to work seamlessly on different hardware?

If the answer is "it depends", let's narrow the question:

  1. All hardware is x86. Nothing fancily customized, just stock laptops/desktops currently available on the market;
  2. Distros: latest OpenSUSE, Ubuntu or Cubes OS with default settings;
  3. No fancy software, just web/office etc.

The background behind this question is that I am deciding whether to have separate USB stick Linux installations for each computer I have, or just clone the same one.

marked as duplicate by drewbenn, G-Man, Stephen Kitt, Stephen Rauch, GAD3R Dec 3 '17 at 18:26

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    Overwhelming majority is not tied. – peterh Dec 3 '17 at 13:12
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I've done it; when I got a new laptop about 2 years ago I just pulled out my old hard drive and put it into the new one. A couple months ago I upgraded the OS (Debian stable) and things are still working fine. The only thing I noticed is that instead of eth0 and wlan0 I have eth1 and wlan1.

Generally, Linux installations include lots of drivers you don't need for your hardware, so if you add or change any hardware in the future, the new hardware will "just work." If you stray from common distros or start customizing them by blacklisting hardware you don't have or removing drivers or modules from the hard drive, you might have problems, but most likely your biggest issue will just be finding a network card that your distro doesn't have good support for.

If you have separate sticks, they might feel "cleaner" (as you install software you don't end up using, etc., then switch to a "new" stick) over time, but cloning will probably remove some maintenance headaches like different passwords, different software versions, etc.

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