12

This drives me nuts. The only solution to these questions is "test it!" but I'm not in the mood to write for each of this questions "The only way you know for sure is to test it with a live CD." There are thousand of these questions! These questions are no good for the Q&A format (since the most accurate answer can change, and even the same model doesn't have the same components). Some of them gets closed, some answered with some halfassed answer, some gets into the oblivion of our not-so-small unanswered questions.

So, what to do with 'em?

Related:

Do we need a "Will Ubuntu work for X model PC?" question?

11

It's a legitimate problem that current and prospective Ubuntu users have. For that one reason, it's not something we can simply write off as "Oh god, that's really annoying".

Of course if you have a laptop "just try it" is a perfectly okay answer but that's only half the picture. There are plenty of times when people are just trying to work out what laptop they should buy. We vehemently state that we're not a shopping recommendation site but stuffing our fingers in our ears and closing them all as off-topic doesn't fix the problem.

I do understand the frustration because they aren't good questions. It's not a question of format (they are a valid Q demanding a single A), rather that they're really very localised and even with our thousands of users, we're only ever going to be able to provide answer the most popular laptops, the Macbooks, the more popular Dells, etc. Companies like Acer and ASUS push out hundreds of SKUs each year. We can't provide an answer for each.

So what is the long term solution here? What helps us? What helps users?

I've been thinking about this for a few hours. I'm not sure how viable it is but what would fix this forever (for us, at least) is a single question "How can I tell if Ubuntu will work on my computer?" with a super-awesome answer that covers:

  • Every best practice for testing if they have the hardware in front of them
  • How to find out if their laptop has certified support
  • How to find out what hardware is inside their device...
  • And how to find out whether those items have support or known issues.

This is a process that long-term Ubuntu and support-peeps have learned when trying to work out whether they can buy something shiny for themselves. It's that process we need to transpose into an answer so there's something out there really helps people help themselves.

Once that's in place, we can close-dupe all the things against it.

  • That was the idea that I came up in this other question but nobody answered me :(. I would make such question, but I don't know exactly when is too much information and when is too little, or what cases should be covered, etc. That answer will try to cover all the scenarios but sometimes it would overwhelm the user that reads it, maybe a jam about what we should include and what not is necesary. – Braiam Dec 18 '13 at 19:58
  • Just driving by because I am on mobile, but I am pretty sure we have a "how do I know if ubuntu will work on foo" canonical question? – Jorge Castro Dec 19 '13 at 1:18
  • makes me sad that wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuFriendly isn't part of the answer - but that link says more people used ubuntu.com/certification anyhoo - from the "what laptop do I buy?" perspective finding ubuntu hardware distributors in my region is a question I still can't answer – david.libremone Dec 19 '13 at 9:04
  • ok, a quick search reveals that searching for "ubuntu laptop <my region>" should provide answers and/or asking your nearest LoCo in person/mailing list/forum – david.libremone Dec 19 '13 at 9:07
  • 1
    A complete, up to date, harware compatibility list is the "holy grail" of any community. The problem is a combination of a plethera of hardware options in combination with frequent kernel updates. Most of these drivers are in the kernel. To make matters more complicated, the kernel version is loosly related to fedora vs ubuntu vs versions of ubuntu. One suggestion, show uers how to identify hardware and then, using the information, search for linux compatibiiltiy or consider referring them to vendors who provide linux support with linux pre-installed. laclinux.com/en/Start or similar – Panther Dec 19 '13 at 22:02
  • 2
    @bodhi.zazen you said the magic word "up-to-date" – Braiam Dec 21 '13 at 15:26
  • 1
    The problem with showing users how to identify hardware is twofold - if you don't have the machine in front of you, you're at the mercy of what the manufacturer says on their website, which is often not at all specific "1.2 megapixel webcam"... well, thanks, that's not useful. Second is that you've just transferred it from "does this laptop work" to "does this video card, audio card, webcam, etc etc etc work". The easiest way to know if Ubuntu works on a laptop is to ask someone who has ubuntu on that laptop. – Nate Finch Feb 1 '14 at 13:12
-1

I have been thinking about this recently, since I get people asking me if Ubuntu will run on XXX machine.

I don't see a problem with having these questions on Ask Ubuntu, as long as they are asked in a way that is clear and specific, and the answers are clear and specific. No, we can't possibly test all computers put out every year... but there are enough people running Ubuntu on non-certified machines that we ought to be able to have some answers. Any answer, even if somewhat out of date, is better than no answer.

If Ubuntu 12.04 worked well (most important components functional) on a laptop, I think it would be really rare for that laptop to not work well on later versions, so even if the answer is "technically" out of date, it probably still applies. The only time when information is likely to be truly incorrect is for things that don't work that might get drivers in the kernel later.

Ubuntu-Friendly is gone, and that's a big shame... but Ask Ubuntu has a chance to use its popularity and community to pick up the slack. And I think it could do even better than Ubuntu-Friendly by having a lower barrier of entry, and thus actually get more participation.

Like the original question says, a lot of these questions get asked. Shouldn't we be trying to answer them? They are fact based, even if the answer may depend on a number of factors... but that's true for most answers. Most answers get out of date eventually, I don't think that should stop anyone from asking the question.

I made an example question here: Does Ubuntu work on the 2013 Dell XPS 15 (9530)?

I welcome any suggestions on ways to format the question to better fit the standards of Ask Ubuntu... but I think this is really valuable information that many many people would like to know... and if they can't get valuable factual information about Ubuntu on Ask Ubuntu, what's the point?

  • 1
    Btw, I am considering making a website that would use the StackExchange API to aggregate these kind of questions into a big filter-able table, to make it easier to scan down the list for a specific machine, which you could then click on to go look at the specific AskUbuntu answers to see any details about what works and what doesn't. I think of it as a reinvented Ubuntu-Friendly, with less overhead and a lower barrier of entry. I think this is one of the biggest problems with Ubuntu today, is that people are expected to pay $1500 for a laptop and just hope it works. – Nate Finch Feb 1 '14 at 12:39
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    Maybe at least comment when you downvote, so everyone else knows why you disagree? – Nate Finch Feb 1 '14 at 20:53
  • They simply don't agree with your point of view. – Braiam Apr 18 '14 at 15:07

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