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Ask Slashdot: Linux-Friendly Motherboard Manufacturers? 352

Posted by Soulskill
from the soldering-iron-and-a-chunk-of-silicon dept.
dotancohen writes "I am tasked with building a few Linux machines for a small office. However, many the currently available motherboards seem to be Linux-hostile. For instance, in addition to the whole UEFI issue, my last install was a three-day affair due to the motherboard reporting a Linux-supported ethernet device (the common RTL8168) while it was actually using a GbE Ethernet device that does not work with the legacy drivers and didn't even work with a test Windows 7 install until the driver disk was installed. There are no current hardware compatibility lists for Debian or Ubuntu and I've received from Asus and Gigabyte the expected reply: No official Linux support, install Windows for best experience. I even turned to the two large local computer vendors, asking if they could provide Linux-compatible machines ready to go, but neither of them would be of any help. What globally-available motherboards or motherboard manufacturers can you recommend today?"
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Ask Slashdot: Linux-Friendly Motherboard Manufacturers?

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  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:18PM (#42411779)

    I heard the Raspberry Pi is very Linux compatible, in fact it doesn't even run Windows.

    • Re:Raspberry Pi (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tonywestonuk (261622) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:20PM (#42411819)

      Commenting to remove crap moderation! Pfff....Slashdot, why cant I change my mind!

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      You joke but unless he buys a prebuilt from someone like System76 that is pretty much it, by the time anything makes it to the compatible hardware list its not being sold in retail any longer. I'd tell him to buy Intel but hell not even that is a safe bet anymore as Intel has put out a few based on PowerVR that aren't compatible.

      So the only real choice is to buy prebuilt or just roll the dice, nothing else you can do really. if it were me given this task i would probably be looking at some socket AM3 boar

  • Intel? (Score:5, Informative)

    by IceNinjaNine (2026774) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:19PM (#42411793)
    Aren't just plain Intel boards, with Intel NICs and Intel HD graphics supposed to be 'out of the box' open source friendly?
    • Re:Intel? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jedidiah (1196) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:23PM (#42411853) Homepage

      Or just search Google. The reviews on sites like Newegg or Amazon might also indicate Linux friendliness or just the general level of quality. Then there are sites like Phoronix.

      In other words: Just search Google. It's not 1996.

      Someone mentioned System76. There's also Zareason.

      Once again: Just search Google. It's not 1996.

      • Agreed. I normally end up with an Asus workstation board with an Intel NIC chipset and it's always worked out fine.. and your point is well taken. I vetted it through Google (and Newegg's customer feedback) before pulling the trigger.
        • Agreed. I normally end up with an Asus workstation board with an Intel NIC chipset and it's always worked out fine.. and your point is well taken. I vetted it through Google (and Newegg's customer feedback) before pulling the trigger.

          I've never had a problem with an Intel chipset, but as mentioned in the OP I've had issues with the LAN drivers. Also, UEFI is a potential stumbling block.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Actually, in 1996 you would have gotten good results for this question from Google. Sure it was an infant, but guess who used it and what they ran it on? Linux was there too.

      • Re:Intel? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jmc23 (2353706) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:35PM (#42411971) Journal
        Back in 1996 it was extremely simple to search for motherboard reviews and compatability. It's now 2012 and the web is overrun with crappy sites and crappy reviews. Smart people would rather get direct answers from 'qualified' people then wade through piles of garbage, it's not like it's 1996!
      • Pardon me, but you do not "search" Google. You use Google to do a search.

        It's like saying, "I need some groceries, so I am going to drive to my car."

        And the other responses are correct. SEO and fraudulent reviews didn't exist in 1996. I can no longer count all the times all the reviews for a product said it was good, until just about the time the one I bought started F'ing up. Then suddenly all the reviews are bad. In some ways the internet is worse than the wild west because in the wild west you didn't hav

      • Caution. "Just Google search" can cause an ugly problem of cyclic recurrence. How?

        Many times my searches result in some obscure forum where desired content is only mentioned. And when I question about where to look for the content, someone speaks (and generally in a arrogant manner) "search on Google". But what is the point of search on Google if you already have arrived in the forum exactly as result from seeking on google?
    • Re:Intel? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:29PM (#42411919) Journal

      My office exclusively uses Intel motherboards (for SecureBIOS) and I have yet to have any compatibility issues with Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, RHEL5, and CentOS.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You're not going to flamebait by posting something people agree with.

        • My office exclusively uses Intel motherboards (for SecureBIOS) and I my extreme lack of knowledge coupled with my inability to use Google have prevented us from using Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, RHEL5, and CentOS. I recommend you buy a Gateway 2000 PC with Windows 98 installed, because you can never go wrong with a classic. Plus the cow pattern is so pretty!

          Better?

      • Agreed. I have yet to see an Intel board cause any real problems beyond "this driver has issues" sort of stuff that you might get with anything. I think once I had to install a kernel with NOAPIC set for some obscure reason, years ago.

        • The driver issues I have encountered are not OS problems, but firmware problems. A certain Intel Motherboard (DZ77BH-55K) has some RAM issues. You can only use specific brands/types of RAM in a dual-channel configuration. It's a very strange problem, as two types of RAM from the same manufacturer will fail to work. After firmware, I tried tweaking the voltages to no avail. I'm still waiting for a firmware update to allow for 4 RAM sticks instead of 2.

      • Thank you, finally an informative answer! I will see from where I might acquire an Intel motherboard locally. I don't think that I've ever come across an Intel board to be honest, so I have a suspicion that they are not sold here.

        • See my other comment about one Intel motherboard that has RAM issues. I would avoid that one if you plan on using more than 2 RAM slots.

          For the motherboards, they do have them on Newegg for sale. I find it much easier to purchase the CPU/MB combos on there because you will know the MB has the correct slot. The Intel brands are a bit more expensive than your generic Sparkle (or other knock-off type), but they are worth the money. Better to spend an extra $20 than to have to replace motherboards every 2 y

    • I agree! Having worked at Intel for a few years, I can tell you that all Intel *server* mobos are thoroughly tested with Linux. Can;t swear to the same thing for desktop mobos, but any Intel server mobo should work perfectly.
    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      pretty much anything runs "out of the box" though yes if you want decent graphic speed and 3d with ati or nvidia you do have to install a driver ... + few people really care about the whole political whoo ha, they just want shit that works.

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      This. In my, admittedly limited, hardware building experience intel boards are not only very open source friendly, but come with the best documentation and least-flaky BIOSes. And of course their SATA controllers and NICs are class leaders.

      I've built a few NAS/NAS + HTPC mITX units using two of Intel's newer boards, running either debian stable or testing, and found both of these to be excellently supported OotB:
      http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/motherboards/desktop-motherboards/desktop-board-dh77df.ht [intel.com]

  • system 76 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have heard good things about system 76

  • by schneidafunk (795759) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:21PM (#42411823)
    Isn't the software suppose to support the hardware?
    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:31PM (#42411935)

      When vendors don't publish drivers or specs how is that supposed to happen?

      Hardware is dime a dozen these days. If I can't run the OS I want on it, I will not buy it.

      • When vendors don't publish drivers or specs how is that supposed to happen?

        You sign the vendor's non-disclosure agreement and then they provide the specs. So in a way this is a "cost" of being open source, some won't buy into your model. Everything has a cost.

        FWIW, as many others have commented, I've been buying Intel motherboards and NICs for over a decade and I've never had a problem.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          That is what I do for the most part.
          Even put an intel nic into my AM3+ build. But that is because I had a nice quad port server nic laying around at work and no use for it. Yes, I had them sell it to me. For $10.

    • Yes, but more often than not the best (or only) way to get the drivers that allows software to support hardware is from the hardware vendor itself.

    • Other way around. What's the point of hardware except to support software? I don't do anything with just hardware.
    • Isn't the software suppose to support the hardware?

      Isn't the husband supposed to support the wife?

      I think that this is a two-way street.

  • Easy (Score:5, Informative)

    by kimvette (919543) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:23PM (#42411841) Homepage Journal

    I have yet to try a motherboard which is not Linux-friendly in recent years. Every single server board I have ever tried has worked flawlessly. Every true hardware RAID controller (be it integrated or PCI-X, PCI-E, or PCI) has been supported natively, and software/hybrid/fakeraid controllers have always been supported in JBOD mode. Integrated Intel or Matrox video works fine.

    Workstation/desktop boards? Aside from bluetooth, wifi, or weird video chipsets, they are supported fine. Ethernet ports used to require some tweaking (especially for Marvell controllers) but even those enjoy good support. If you want a good, fast board check out the GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB

    As far as UEFI is concerned - if you run 32-bit RHEL/CentOS/Scientific Linux, you won't be able to boot the 32-bit disc with UEFI enabled, but why would you forgo the flat memory space of a 64-bit board now that RAM is dirt cheap? Boot 64-bit disc and it works just fine. I have UEFI enabed on my GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB and it is fully supported out of the box by OpenSUSE and both Centos and RHEL 6.3. It's more work to get full support in Linux, actually, because the Linux install Just Works(TM). To boot Windows 7, I had to make a Windows 7 USB key. It booted 64-bit Linux just fine.

    • This is spot on with my experience building servers running linux. I haven't found a manufacturer that doesn't support linux straight out of the box without loading any special drivers (unlike windows server installations that usually cannot find my raid drivers) assuming I use a newer version of ubuntu server. But in the end, I tend to lean more towards IAAS and PAAS since it just makes things easier to get up and running and less maintenance.
    • Thank you. Two years ago I build my current desktop, and everything worked fine. This summer I built the mother-in-law's home system and had a terrible time with the 1000 MBit ethernet controller as the driver has not yet been including in the Linux kernel, and to make it worse the board was reporting a different controller whose driver was in the kernel!

      I know that there are Gigabyte *77* boards available locally, I will look at those. Thank you very much.

  • ...whether a motherboard is Linux friendly on Slashdot, I would put down your hammer and step away from the computer you are trying to build.
  • by dills (102733) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:23PM (#42411855) Homepage

    It's all about chipsets. Figure out what chipset a given motherboard has, do a few googles, and you'll likely have your answers.

    I have no problem with either of the manufacturers that you mentioned. Were you perhaps trying to do an AMD solution? I'd just stick with Intel chips and chipsets at this point in the game.

    • by rgbrenner (317308)

      I've bought about 2 dozen Asus AMD motherboards, and they all work fine in Linux.

      dotancohen is just too lazy to do a little research, so instead he's looking for the impossible: a hardware manufacturer that needs to sell millions of units, but no matter how in demand a chipset or feature is, will refuse to release the product without Linux drivers.. a manufacturer who would turn away 95% of his customers (by not releasing a product) because 2% of them won't be able to use it.

  • This MB worked (Score:5, Informative)

    by future assassin (639396) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:29PM (#42411915) Homepage

    I just built an HTPC and this is what I used for my mb/cpu

    MSI FM2-A75MA-E35 mATX FM2 A75 DDR3 1PCI-E16 2PCI-E1 1PCI SATA3 HDMI DVI USB3.0 Motherboard
    AMD A8-5600K APU Quad Core Processor Socket FM2 3.2GHZ 4MB 100W Retail Box

    works fine here right out of the box with no BIOS settings. I have Linux Mint 14 Mate running on it. The only issue I had was getting audio over HDMI but for some reason downloading and installing the AMD propitiatory drivers wouldn't install Catalyst. I had to go and install the CCC through the package manager. Reboot and audio over HDMI worked.

    If you want to stick to the open source drivers and want to have sound over HDMI (if it doesn't work) try this

    Edit to /etc/default/grub and add

    radeon.audio=1

    to

    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

    To make it look like this
    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash radeon.audio=1"

    Haven't tried it with my HTPC but did it with my sons laptop. Also with the laptop I had to disable two settings in the BIOS and create an EFI partition but the install of Linux Mint 14 KDE went smoothly an games seem to be running good with the open source drivers.

  • http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/ [ubuntu.com] shows desktops and servers classified by vendor, distro, etc

    • by LourensV (856614)

      I'm typing this on a Dell Latitude E6410, which is on that list (albeit with nVidia graphics I think, but Intel support is better, right? That's why I ordered it, anyway). When I first got this machine, it was also on the list, but Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (the most recent LTS) wouldn't even boot on it, just gave a black screen. Apparently there were multiple issues with the Intel graphics drivers, with both the E6410 and the E6510. Now it did seem that Canonical was giving those bugs some attention, but it still t

  • What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:30PM (#42411923) Homepage

    due to the motherboard reporting a Linux-supported ethernet device (the common RTL8168) while it was actually using a GbE Ethernet device that does not work with the legacy drivers and didn't even work with a test Windows 7 install until the driver disk was installed.

    Model and manufacturer, please! Sounds like bullshit to me.

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Sounds like Dell to me... unless you're talking about not working without drivers under windows 7, then it sounds like every motherboard I've had experience with :)
  • by swb (14022) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:33PM (#42411953)

    I've used Tyan (although my last one was a dual P3), Gigabyte and Asus and I finally just switched to Intel boards, primarily to not have to ever use a Realtek (aka Realdreck) ethernet chipset again.

    My Gigabyte and Asus boards used Realtek ethernet chipsets and they were total shit, both at the hardware level and at the software level. I ended up buying Intel cards and disabling/uninstalling the Realtek shit as much as possible.

    Now I just buy Intel boards and get a decent Intel NIC, although Intel can be a PITA about releasing server OS drivers for what they call "consumer" NICs. The side benefit has been less weird shit and documentation in better English.

    Intel boards may not be great "values" (relative to maximum features or overclockability) but they have always been super stable and worked right.

  • by dclozier (1002772) on Friday December 28, 2012 @01:34PM (#42411965)
    I have found that building such systems myself will end up costing a bit more because I cherry pick better components all around when less powerful options would have sufficed. If this is for an office setup and you're the one that's going to end up doing support for them then you'll want to know what's inside. If you can afford it though it would be better to pass this support issue over to someone else that's already doing desktop linux like System76 - Desktops [system76.com].
  • How did you succeed in finding incompatible hardware?
    I recently built an FM2 system around an Abit F2A85X-UP4 without any issues.
    Flawless migration from my previous box (ga-ma770-ds3 & AMD 9550).
    Open source radeon video driver w/ 3D accelleration.
    No chips that are not working.
    • by Lluc (703772)
      Abit still exists??? I remember them from back in the 440BX days with the original P3 CPUs, but I haven't heard that name in ages!
  • Dell will sell you Ubuntu machines preloaded (give them a call, ignore their website). I personally like System76 and ZaReason, but there are many others..
    http://linuxpreloaded.com/ [linuxpreloaded.com]

  • My local shop would build me what I asked them to, and it would work.

    They've got people who know what each week's new motherboards can and can't do - there's no way I could keep up with that.

    Of course manually built-to-order is slightly more expensive than buying commodity-boxes-designed-for-Windows off the shelf, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

    • by freeze128 (544774)
      I second this. A local clone manufacturer has invaluable experience in this matter. I know I did when I built systems for a living. We can't all be expected to keep up with what's new, but someone who does it day in and day out is going to give you some really good information.
  • Intel branded boards seem like a reasonably good bet to work. If this is for an office you won't care about the lack of overclocking features.
  • For years I've been using Asus motherboards and have never had any major problems. Perhaps some of the reasons for this are that I never go for the flagship models and/or the latest chipsets, never expect everything to work and am always willing to compromise. By the latter I mean in particular that I often end up adding things like sound cards when the Linux kernel I'm using (usually not the latest version) doesn't include support for the one on the motherboard. Graphics cards? Never expect too much or bu

  • I've never purchased from them, but they're the first ones I thought of:

    https://www.system76.com/ [system76.com]
  • what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Friday December 28, 2012 @02:53PM (#42412447)

    how the hell do you make such a huge mountain out of a molehill?

    AMD, Intel, Nvidia, Realtech, VIA

    all have been supported in linux as system chipsets for a long fucking time, where the hell are you getting these crackhead mobos you speak of?

  • Built systems with their E5 series motherboards (i.e.X9DA) that made my HP vendor cry in the corner asking for his mama.

    Must have saved like close to 20 grand by whiteboxing a system spec I slotted from HP for 60 Grand.

    -Hack

  • by rklrkl (554527) on Friday December 28, 2012 @09:27PM (#42416073) Homepage

    I've got a couple of PCs with the Asus P8Z68-V LX running 64-bit CentOS 6.3 and/or Ubuntu 12.04 without any issues at all. Newegg [newegg.com] has them for $80 and they support 32GB RAM, SATA 3, USB 3 and have decent onboard graphics (with plenty of slots for beefier cards). I don't see anything in this price range that a) works 100% with Linux and b) has good specs like this MB.

    One nice thing - the BIOS is dead easy to upgrade - none of this Windows-only (or DOS-on-a-floppy!) rubbish: there's a built in filestore navigator in the BIOS and it picks up a .ROM file off a USB stick without any problems. And, yes, Asus do BIOS updates even for MBs like these which aren't that new or anywhere near the top of their range.

    It should be noted that it's an LGA 1155/Z68 MB, which may or may not work with Ivy Bridge CPUs (I used a "lowly" i7 2600 Sandy Bridge in mine). I'm sure there must be an Asus equivalent to this MB that does.

  • by X.25 (255792) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @12:16PM (#42419851)

    I might be late with this, but if you are considering ASUS motherboards, this can help:

    http://www.asus.com/websites/global/aboutasus/OS/Linux.pdf [asus.com]

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