4 Ways To Know Whether Ubuntu Linux Will Run On Your Computer

Introduction

If you are on the lookout for a new computer or you want to try Linux on your computer it would be good to know in advance if everything is going to work.

Whilst Linux boots on pretty much any hardware nowadays it is important to know whether other hardware will work correctly such as the wireless network card, audio, video, webcam, ​Bluetooth, microphone, display, touchpad and even touchscreen.

This list provides a number of ways to find out whether your hardware will support running Ubuntu Linux.

01
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Check The Ubuntu Compatibility Lists

Ubuntu Compatibility List
Ubuntu Compatibility List.

This page shows a list of Ubuntu certified hardware and it breaks down the hardware into releases so you can see if it is certified for the latest release 16.04 or for the previous long-term support release 14.04.

Ubuntu is supported by a wide range of manufacturers including Dell, HP, Lenovo, ASUS, and ACER.

I am using Ubuntu on this Dell Inspiron 3521 computer and I searched the Ubuntu certified hardware list and it returned the following results:

The Dell Inspiron 3521 portable with the components described below has been awarded the status of certified for Ubuntu.

However reading on further the report says that the computer is only certified for version 12.04 which is obviously quite old.

I suspect that the manufacturers get the certification when a computer is released and don't bother to renew it for later versions.

I am running version 16.04 and it is perfectly fine on this computer.

There are some extra notes which are provided with the certification status.

In my case, it says "Video mode switch doesn't work on this system", it also says that the hybrid video card will only work for Intel and not ATI or NVidia.

As you can see the list is quite thorough and will give you some indications as to the problems you may face.

02
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Create A Ubuntu Live USB Drive

Ubuntu Live
Ubuntu Live.

All the lists in the world won't compensate for actually trying Ubuntu out on the computer in question.

Fortunately, you don't have to install Ubuntu to the hard drive to give it a whirl.

All you have to do is create a Ubuntu Live USB drive and boot into it.

You can then test the wireless, audio, video and other settings to make sure they work correctly.

If something doesn't work straight away that doesn't mean it will never work and you should ask for help from the forums or search Google for solutions to common problems.

By trying Ubuntu in this way you won't damage the current operating system.

03
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Buy A Computer With Ubuntu Pre-installed

Buy Linux Computer
Buy Linux Computer.

If you are in the market for a new laptop then the best way to make sure that it will run Ubuntu is to buy one with Ubuntu pre-installed.

Dell has budget entry laptops for an incredibly low price but they aren't the only company selling Linux-based laptops.

This page on the Ubuntu website shows a list of companies that sell Linux-based laptops.

System76 are well known in the USA for selling good quality laptops running Ubuntu.

04
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Find The Hardware Then Research Further

Research The Laptop
Research The Laptop.

If you are looking to buy a new laptop then a bit of research can go a long way.

Just because a computer doesn't feature in the compatibility list doesn't mean it won't work with Ubuntu.

What you can do is find the computer that you are thinking of purchasing and then search in Google for the search term "problems with Ubuntu on <makeandmodel>".

People are very quick to shout when something doesn't work and so, in most cases, you will find forums with a list of commonly asked questions relating to the experience people have had with a certain computer and Ubuntu Linux.

If for each issue there is a clear solution then it is viable to think about buying that computer with a view to running Ubuntu. If there is a problem that just isn't resolved then you should probably move on to something else.

You might also want to look at the specifications for the computer such as graphics card and sound card and search for "problem with <graphicscardtype> on <makeandmodel>" or "problem with <soundcard> on <makeandmodel>".

Summary

Of course Ubuntu isn't the only Linux distribution but it is the most commercially popular and therefore the most likely one to be supported by the most hardware manufacturers. If you choose to use another distribution then you can use many of the techniques listed above.
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