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-   -   Before you post: What to include in a Hardware question. (

finegan 07-11-2003 04:01 AM

Before you post: What to include in a Hardware question.
Most first replies I make here are to ask for more information. Before you post, here are some things to consider pasting in:

If you think this doesn't apply because you can't even get Linux to install, try downloading and burning a copy of Knoppix, as long as the machine will boot from a CD you should be able to get the following.

1. If this is a question about getting a component PCI device working; soundcards, network cards, wireless network cards, video cards, etc... paste in the output of


Also remember, AGP cards are listed under lspci as well as vanilla pci cards.

Also remember that the onboard IDE controller is another PCI device.

Model numbers from the manufacturers are worthless. For example, a Dlink DWL-520 and a Dlink DWL-520+ have nothing to do with one another, and this took me about a week to sort out for people until I got the lspci listing off of one of them.


A Linksys WMP11 and a Linksys WMP11 have nothing to do with one another. Yeah, the same box, manual, slightly different label on the CD, and version 2.7 as opposed to v2.5, one is broadcom, the other prism2.5, one is unsupported the other is well supported, over supported even... by three different driver groups!

2. Next up, what kernel AND distro are you using, the VIA 8233 sound card worked in 2.4.16, then disappeared until 2.4.20. This is of course unless you are using Mandrake or SuSe who had working ALSA modules. When in doubt of the kernel:

uname -r

3. If the problem stems from a laptop pcmcia card, similar info to /sbin/lspci can be found from:

/sbin/cardctl ident

That is of course unless its a Cardbus card, they're pretty easy to tell apart, it'll be marked on the card, it'll probably be a big selling point on the packing, the manual, etc. too. Cardbus cards appear under /sbin/lspci, pretty neat eh?

4. ISA cards, more fun then a very small barrel of rabid monkeys! Well, really, these only pop up these days for people that are refurbing their old Pentium 1 or 2 era crate into a learning box. Crack the case, get all the info off of the card, random goop on the only big chip in the middle of it, and type it all in here. These aren't that much fun, but they're good for the job, I've got a few machines around with old vibra "sb" module based sound cards and a few 3com 3c509s still rockin' the world wide whatever.

5. When in doubt, drop in some logs. For instance, the command: "dmesg", is literally, the kernel ring buffer, its a record of everything the kernel saw as it loaded, in order. If it didn't see it, its not listed, hence the use of "lspci". If it did see it and its just acting quirky, or not as it should, drop in the part of "dmesg" that mentions your component. This is a big one for USB devices, specifically Compact Flash adapters. Other good ones, bits of /var/log/messages (which is where dmesg is supposed to hard log), /var/log/XFree86.0.log, /var/log/syslog (not usually though, more for software).

6. Most of this info, when posted, is gonna get fed into or into the search option here, or both. Try it out, try a search through this place's four hundred thousand posts, it might be well covered. Also remember that anything you run accross out there or here, may be quite outdated, which is more then often the case with hardware, two kernels later and the entire world has changed, not to even touch the insane differences between 2.4.x and 2.2.x

7. USB devices... these can be a pain as well. There is an equivalent pci command: "/sbin/lsusb" Again, most of the above is important too, check the output of the command, "dmesg" and take a look at the device ID and the whether you get the ugly phrase "Device not claimed by any active driver." Also, you may want to compare your device to:, I'm not a big fan of HCLs, but this one is pretty good... heck, I've posted there in the past.

( Thanks to faheyd for reminding me to add some info for USB devices. )



P.S. Anyone that does a lot of responses here, please go ahead and mail me with anything you think I should add to the above list.

P.P.S. I just noticed that this sub-forum, just Hardware, hit one million page views. Remember that the answer you seek and the way that you get it may be the way the next twenty poor guys google there way here for that same answer later. Give as precise information as possible and it'll help more people later.

finegan 11-30-2003 01:14 PM

Re: Before you post: What to include in a Hardware question.

Originally posted by finegan

P.P.S. I just noticed that this sub-forum, just Hardware, hit one million page views. Remember that the answer you seek and the way that you get it may be the way the next twenty poor guys google there way here for that same answer later. Give as precise information as possible and it'll help more people later.

2 million page views now, and I've noticed a lot more info entering the first post of a thread. Thanks for reading along on this, and as always, please mail me with suggestions as to what to put in this thread.



J.W. 12-20-2007 02:20 AM

In the interests of keeping these guidelines up to date, I'd like to restate the general points with slight modifications/additions.

1. Search first -- chances are reasonably good that if you have a question about how to get a given hardware component to work properly under Linux, others have too. Rather than to automatically assume you need to start a brand new thread, you may be able to find the information you need in an existing thread. (To look at it from another perspective, it's a lot more efficient to discover the answer you need in an existing thread than it is to create a new one and then sit around idle while hoping that someone will come along who can answer it.) As you probably know, there are 3 excellent resources for locating information about hardware under Linux -- the LQ Search function on this website, the LQ Hardware Compatibility List (HCL), and of course

2. Clearly identify the components -- providing the make/model of the component you have a question about is critical in order for others to be able to offer advice/suggestions on how to resolve the problem. Just as how in Windows you may need a particular driver to get the device to work properly, in Linux you may need a particular kernel module to get the device to work properly, so identifying the specific component you're using is essential. Along those lines, does the manufacturer have a link on their site to the item? If so, please include it.

3. Provide system information -- both the "lspci" and "lshw" commands are designed to make it easy to obtain system information about your hardware. Consider copying and pasting the output of those commands in your post, as more often than not, one of the first replies to your question will be simply "What is the output from lspci?" Additionally, if it's not already included in your LQ profile, it's a really good idea to indicate the distro you are using.

4. Describe what you've tried -- after providing the above details about your system, it's also helpful to briefly outline what steps you've already attempted to get the component to work. What commands or actions have you performed? What system or error messages (if any) are being displayed? Keep in mind that although you can see perfectly well what your PC is doing, no one else can, and so the sum total of information available about your issue will be whatever you describe in your post. To say it another way, vague and random comments about a problem will likely only attract vague, non-specific replies, so if you're interested in getting an informative reply to your question, your question needs to contain sufficiently detailed information so that other readers will be able to offer advice/suggestions.

5. Soundcard issues -- these are some of the most common questions. First, check all the obvious (but easily overlooked) causes such as a cable being unplugged or plugged into the wrong jack, or that the volume is muted, or that the speakers have been turned all the way down, etc. Note that the application you are using to play your CD's/mp3's/whatever will have its own separate volume controls, so be sure to check those as well. Note that most distros use ALSA for sound, and thus learning about the "alsamixer" command is generally useful

6. Printer issues -- the OpenPrinting website (formerly is an excellent resource for all issues related to printing under Linux. Of particular value is the Printer listings page. Just select the manufacturer from the dropdown list, then the model, then click the "Show" button. Note: not every single printer is guaranteed to have its own listing, but the site contains excellent information and is a good resource to check out.

7. Share the knowledge -- when you have resolved the issue, please post back to your thread and describe the solution, as that will be immensely helpful to the next person who might run into the same problem you did. Similarly, if someone's suggestion turns out to be the solution, please update your thread indicating that his/her recommendation resolved the problem, because it likewise will be seriously helpful to a future LQ who might be facing the same issue. From the entire LQ community, Thanks.

Suggestions for edits, additions, or other feedback is welcome via Email.

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