7 Ways To Ensure You Get A Linux Compatible Computer
Many computer manufacturers that pre-install Windows will use components or settings that may cause problems with some Linux distributions, or with the Linux kernel itself. As a result, you have to do your homework when purchasing a computer that isn't pre-installed with Linux, or isn't specifically manufactured to be Linux-compatible. Here are a few ways to prevent getting stuck with a computer that won't work with Linux:
Buy a computer that is pre-installed with Linux. (I know, I know, but this is the best way to ensure that ANY computer and OS will work together.)
Research the make and model you are thinking of buying along with the words "Linux compatibility."
Run a search on your distribution's forums for your anticipated model. Search other distributions' forums as well. Look for issues related to hardware incompatibility and whether or not the issues have been resolved.
Before you purchase the computer, make sure the vendor has a liberal return policy. (Just in case.)
Try a "Live media" version (LiveDVD or LiveUSB) before installing.
a. If the live media version looks OK, make a backup image of the existing drive, then install using dual-boot. If your install fails, restore the original image so that you can return the computer.
b. As an alternative, you could remove the original drive and replace it with a blank one, or with one that you have pre-installed (using a different computer) with your Linux distribution.
Note: The method of installation described in 7b is possible with Linux while under Windows, it simply can't be done. When Linux boots, it will look for new hardware and if it finds itself on a completely new system, it will make the appropriate adjustments to configuration and drivers. The only time this might be an issue is when specific hardware, like a wifi NIC, requires proprietary drivers or can't find the right driver. I usually ensure that I have a Linux-compatible USB network dongle to use if the hardware has no wired network connection. That allows me to get on the Internet to download the required driver for the wifi card.