Most of time, you don't need to install drivers in Linux manually, since it already has it installed. But there must be some times when Linux does not have the right driver for a device. How can I find out which device needs to have a driver installed manually?

In Linux, is there some mechanism which, like on Windows, works to make the device function in a compatible mode? If so, how can I know which device works all right, and which device works in a compatible mode?


First thing to do before buying unknown new hardware, is to look at the vendor site for the product. If they indicate Linux is supported, there is a good chance that it is. If the hardware is older, or similar in functionality to an older device by the manufacturer (e.g. a new network board) than your chances are good that the drivers are in a modern Linux distribution.

Most device manufacturers know that it is more easy to make hardware that is compatible with older drivers (that do not recognise new functionality) and then upgrade the drivers to exploit new features. That means less debugging of existing functionality. This is the compatible mode you indicate and that is something build into the hardware, not something specific for Windows.

If you cannot find an answer on the vendor site, you can also look at a hardware compatibility list.

  • But How can I know whether the device is work in optimum behavior in Linux(all the new features are working correctly)? – Matthewgao Jun 17 '13 at 9:26
  • That is of course a different question, but if the manufacturer specifies that everything is fine I would assume it is, or return the product. – Anthon Jun 17 '13 at 9:36

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