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Re: Debian Hardware Compatibility List

On Wed, Sep 09, 2009 at 10:33:49AM +0530, Mayank wrote:
> > It is best to see what hardware is supported by what comes in the
> > standard kernel and to choose hardware by that.
> Hi,
>    Can you please let me know how to find details of which hardware is
> supported by a particular kernel. For e.g. I'm using kernel 2.6.22-3-486 and
> this is going to be used at later stages as well. So how to go about finding
> details of hardware supported by this version of kernel.

Do I understand that right that you're using an i486 as your server?
If you look on kernel.org, there is no such kernel, so I'm guessing
you are using one that's compiled for 486s. Isn't a 486 going to make
a pretty slow server nowadays?

To find out about hardware compatibility, there are different sources
of information: google, look at linux hardware compatibility lists,
look at the hardware manufacturers website, ask on mailing
lists/forums, look at the kernel documentation, look at the help when
configuring a kernel, compile a kernel for your hardware and try it

If a hardware manufacturer provides his own modules/software for his
hardware, that usually means that the hardware is incompatible because
there's no support in the standard kernel/distribution(s). Stay away
from such hardware! Exception: NVIDIA --- but I don't put X11 on
servers, so that doesn't matter.

It's easier when you do it the other way round, i. e. when you plan on
buying a particular hardware, find out if it will work and how well
it'll work under Linux *before* you buy it.

> You are right in stating that guarantee for 100% uptime doesn't
> exist for any operating system but if some vendor is agreeing to
> provide support for a particular hardware then it relieves me of lot
> of hassles like upgradation etc. because if I land up in a serious
> problem during upgrades etc. then it's the vendor who is going to
> tackle it instead of me and I can worry more about my application
> that I'm going to deploy on the server instead of handling the nitty
> gritties of operating system problems. Hope you are able to
> understand.

In theory, maybe, perhaps. It would involve the manufacturer actually
sending someone to come around to fix your problem. It would assume
that they are actually willing and able to fix the problem. It would
require that they don't say something like "The hardware is working
just fine, it's a software problem, we won't fix it".

Besides, uptime percentage and something working as intended are two
different things. I've always strived to make it so that the software
will continue to run indefinitely, i. e. until the hardware fails, and
I've done that pretty successfully. I've had hardware failing, like
disks and tape drives wearing out, but not the software. That's only
to a very small part my achievement because I didn't write the
software, of course. In part, it's luck, another part is making good
choices, and it is imperative to keep things as simple as possible. If
you don't do that, you'll become unable to handle them.

If you build your servers yourself, there isn't going to be a
manufacturer who eventually fixes it for you. But you can make it so
that it works and that parts are easy to get and to replace. If you
need 100% uptime, you'll have to set up a cluster.

As to problems due to software upgrades, you may want to have a test
system ready and perform upgrades on the test environment before
touching the life system.

And you can expect the hardware to fail, no matter who manufactured
it. If you require special hardware, you'll have to wait on
replacements --- and I've seen it taking like 6 months before the
manufacturer finally was able to replace a tape drive under warranty!
Use (as much as possible) "normal" hardware you can get in the
computer store around the corner, and you don't have that problem
because you can get a replacement right away.

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