Last time, we talked about getting Ubuntu/Mint Linux installed, deciding whether to use existing hardware, or to buy a box with your new OS pre-installed. Most important, I told you how to take control of your sound card again when using a USB headset with your PC’s sound card.

Wireless Cards
Today, we are going to talk a little more about hardware. First up, Wi-Fi cards. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are a part of life on most notebook PCs these days. Now as many of you may already be aware, many integrated options are non-functional out of the box. Broadcom chipsets are also a problem under certain circumstances. You’ve tried to make NDISWrapper work to correct this, but your added driver is doing nothing.

It is at this point I say stop and consider investing twenty bucks or so and buying a card from a company who has chosen to support your Linux efforts. Granted, this is often perceived as the easy way out, but speaking for myself, I like things to work right the first time.

The first step is to locate a couple of companies that advertise the fact that they are supporting Linux. TRENDnet is one example and Edimax would be another. Edimax’s EW-7608Pg and EW-7628Ig are also two cards to consider. Each providing options for both desktop and notebook computers. Yes, two “unknowns” who are working their way into your notebooks by supporting you instead of taking the industry stance of “too bad, so sad” with regard to Linux support. But maybe you are concerned about putting money into an unknown company. While I prefer it in some circumstances myself, ASUS also has a card if that makes you feel a little better.

Now, many of us have read about the crap shoot of buying Logitech cams to see if they might or might not work all right out of the box. This is crazy, consider buying a SYBA cam from NewEgg until better options come along. You can also get them in black with a mic if you prefer. Now for the downside: The cam looks like crap in most applications with the exception of a Yahoo! Webcam app that I will be introducing later on. In that application, it looks great. I own it and can vouch for this fact 100 percent. The main problem is not so much clarity as it is color.

Another option that I have not yet tried would be this Webcam. Weird to be sure, it is reported to work with Linux out of the box. Finally, if you are feeling creative enough, you can use support for Creative Webcams and compile drivers yourself should you feel daring enough.

Even though I detest HP computers with a passion, I do admire its support of Open Source. And to make things even more interesting, it is one of the few that offers a viable option for those looking to use three-in-one printers with all of the bells and whistles. Now you can see why I am so pressed on starting with the proper hardware first, then looking at which distro you want. With HP, you really can have it all. Installation is super easy. Just think back to those command line days when repairing Windows involved opening a terminal/shell, typing out cd (space bar) /home/your-username/Desktop(orwhatever)/hplip then following the directions and using cut and paste. If you have any problems locating a link for it after the install, just right click on your desktop, create a launcher with /usr/bin/hp-toolbox and you will be good to go.

Coming up Tuesday, more applications than what you will find from Add/Remove, exporting and transporting Apt-get packages to non-broadband empowered PCs, and setting up a dual monitors with your NVIDIA card. ATI cards will also be discussed some as much of the details are similar.