Looking for a Linux equivalent of the Windows Device Manager

Q I work in a mostly Windows environment but am constantly striving to move to Linux; one thing I find quite frustrating is good visibility of what devices I have running and their status with regards to device drivers. I hesitate to say but Microsoft does a good job with its Device Manager. Is there something in Linux that provides the same sort of visibility?

A The situation is rather different with Linux, because most drivers are included with the kernel, so there's not the same need to compare what is installed and running with what is available from various websites. As long as you keep your package manager up to date, it will inform you of any updates. There are various programs that will report on the status of your hardware, some generic and some specific to a distro. One of my favourites is lshw (http://ezix.org/project/wiki/HardwareLiSter), which is generally used in a console and gives a detailed listing of everything in the machine, from motherboard and CPU to USB devices.

The default output is plain text, but it can also generate HTML for viewing in a web browser or open a window where you can click on items to see more information. It has a number of options to limit the information given, such as restricting it to certain types of device or removing sensitive information like serial numbers from the output. A similar program is HardInfo (http://hardinfo.berlios.de) which displays plenty of information about your hardware and software in a GUI. This displays information in a tree view so you can zoom in on the specific details you need.

There is a section showing the loaded kernel modules, so you can see which drivers your hardware is using. You may need to run these programs as root, or with sudo, to be able to read everything from your system. The main desktop environments have their own programs: the Gnome Device Manager and KDE's KInfoCentre, which provide similar information. Various distros also have their own variants of these programs: Ubuntu's Device Manager (which is probably closest to the Windows program, although it is a while since I used that), SUSE's Yast and Mandriva's Control Centre all provide hardware information. The SUSE and Mandriva offerings are integrated into their all-encompassing system administration programs, so they also have the option of configuring the hardware where appropriate.

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