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I am looking at getting one of those USB-to-serial cables, but I just want to make sure it will work fine under Linux, before buying it. Is there a list of brand names or processor IDs that are known to work under Linux ?

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For what it's worth, I've not had a problem with the last three such adapters (on different laptops) I bought. I've never had to install a driver, either. My current usb-serial is a Micro Innovations branded adapter. Because hardware compatibility lists are often out of date, I generally either look (online or in person) at the label specs or description (newegg, amazon, etc.). There is generally at least one model that will explicitly say it has Linux support. If that is absent, I've had good luck with devices listed as Mac compatible.

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Figure out exact part number, manufacturer, device name, sometimes the bar code works wonders. By far the best is if you can find the USB-ID (two numbers of each 4 hexadecimal digits).

Enter as much information as you can find in your favorite search engine and try to find a hardware compatibility list.

As belacqua states too, I've never had problems with serial('ish) devices. Usually only a handful of different chipsets are used.

dmesg shows you if the device is recognized, which is an option if you can take your laptop to the shop.

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