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Best hardware for a Ubuntu Computer?

I'm looking into building my own computer. However, I've never done this before. I've used Ubuntu my whole life and am intending to continue to do so, so I'd like to make sure all the hardware works out of the box with Ubuntu - preferably even with open source drivers (i.e. without having to install proprietary drivers after installation). If that's not possible, then at least from a company making work of their Linux support.

So, what are things to watch out for? How best to approach this task? For example, which components are often most problematic -- i.e. which is best to start with? How can I be sure that each component plays nice with the rest?

  • it would help to know what parts you are looking for, could you be more specific? – Alvar May 1 '12 at 20:36
  • askubuntu.com/questions/32152/who-makes-laptops-for-ubuntu, They make Desktops too.. – Uri Herrera May 1 '12 at 20:38
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  • @UriHerrera Please only use one comment... – nanofarad May 1 '12 at 20:44
  • As you can already see from the previous comments, this question has been asked & answered a number of times. If you look at the sidebar on the right hand side you will see topics Linked & Related which should give you a lot of material to digest. (They're under the advertizing.) Rather than ask a vague, open ended question about any hardware, try to pick one or three specific types or categories of components you intend to include in your system. The more focused a question is, the better the answers are likely to be. – irrational John May 1 '12 at 20:56

In the scope of this question & answer site I am certainly unable to give you recommendations on one or the other piece of hardware. This is even more so as there is constant development going on. What we said today may not hold true tomorrow.

From my own experience in building my own boxes for several years now I have never had any unsolvable issue when it comes to Ubuntu compatibility. However there are some general thoughts you might want to consider:

  • The latest brand-new hardware may not yet be fully supported. It is better to choose hardware that was around for some months.
  • Don't look for hardware that works, look for the rare cases that don't. Check the forums for issues with the one single specific piece of hardware you chose. If there weren't any it's probably safe to use.
  • Buy common hardwares rather than exotic ones if you have the choice.
  • Thanks, general recommendations like those in your bullet points are exactly what I was looking for :) – Vincent May 1 '12 at 21:15

Among usual desktop hardware graphics cards, sound cards and wifi cards can cause trouble. Takkat put it very well in his answer.

As a general rule for assembling computers, I recommend to choose the shops where you order the parts wisely. Nothing creates more anger and causes delay than unfriendly, unhelpful and lazy customer support and refund policies. With quick refund policies and no shipping fees, you can just order the parts needed and iterate until your system is complete.


I have built my own computer with Ubuntu, but alas, it has fallen into disrepair as it is very outdated, so I cannot give you my exact specs. However, I would use an ATI radeon video card, but not an ATI APU, like the Vision A4, as Nvidia(and A4) have severe display problems at times, and Intel does not work well in general. The open-source driver will work fine, but you may want to get flgrx if you are having issues with the open-source driver. I would use an AMD CPU, hopefully 64-bit as I have had no issues with them. You need as little as 20GB for Ubuntu, but I would go above and beyond as it is hard to get that small a hard disk. At least 2 GB of RAM would be good, although you could use LDXE or XFCE if you have performance issues.

  • Does Intel not work well with Ubuntu, or just not perform well in general compared to AMD? Is the open source driver for the radeon on par when it comes to feature set (i.e. is the proprietary driver only needed in case of bugs)? What is the advantage of an AMD CPU? I do intend to run full-blown Ubuntu, I'm not building a PC with the intention of running into performance issues :) – Vincent May 1 '12 at 21:13
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    I would not recommend an AMD CPU. I have been a big AMD fan from 2000 till 2006 and last years Brazos platform is a nice solution for power efficient boxes, but if you want state of the art performance, than go with an Intel Core i5 of the current generation (series 3000). 4 GB RAM is minimum, better buy 8 or 16 while the prices are low, with the start of DDR4 next year prices for DDR3 will go up. Though AMD is a still a considerable choice in the lower end of the price range. – LiveWireBT May 1 '12 at 21:34
  • Huh, prices of DDR3 go up when DDR4 is released? Don't usually more outdated technologies go down in price when newer technologies are introduced? Thanks for the comment, very helpful :) – Vincent May 1 '12 at 21:39
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    Currently the industry has not much choice but to produce DDR3 memory in large quantity. The market is flooded with DDR3 memory which causes prices to drop. With DDR4, production capacities are taken away from DDR3 and while the yield rates for DDR4 will be rather low at first, even more production capacities will move away from DDR3. DDR3 has a low profit margin, so everybody wants to move away from it as quickly as possible. That will leave only a tiny fraction of DDR3 production capacity behind causing the demand for DDR3 be greater than the production capacity. Prices go up. – LiveWireBT May 1 '12 at 22:06

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