A new database will tackle one of the persistent problems facing Linux deployments - figuring out what hardware is and isn't compatible.

The site, launched by Phoronix on Friday, joins similar efforts from linuxquestions.org, and linuxcompatible.org among others.

Many individual Linux distributors, such as SuSe, Red Hat and Mandriva, also maintain their own hardware compatibility lists.

Phoronix's system is designed to create a centralised repository which the Linux community can add to and maintain, though some early users have criticised it as too unstructured.

"This system allows you to post GNU/Linux information on hardware as well as sharing your own personal experiences when it comes to GNU/Linux compatibility," said the site's editor-in-chief, Michael Larabel. "This is designed to make it... effortless when deciding what GNU/Linux compatible hardware to go with during your next upgrade."

The site's launch underscores the fact that hardware pain remains a fact of life in the Linux world. Drivers for WiFi hardware have come under particular scrutiny in the last few years, with companies such as Devicescape Software specialising in developing Linux drivers for different WiFi chipsets.

Devicescape recently released its Advanced Datapath Driver under the GNU Public License, which could make it far easier for Linux to be used as the core of wireless electronics, since it should allow developers to immediately adopt the latest WiFi hardware. >/p>

The software could put WiFi support directly into the Linux kernel for the first time.

Novell is building a new way of handling hardware drivers into SuSe Linux Enterprise 10, out this summer, which aims at getting hardware to work when it isn't yet supported in the current kernel.

The Partner Linux Driver Process allows vendors to provide drivers to users direct, independently of Novell's process of updating the kernel used in its SuSe Linux distributions.

Currently, administrators can find themselves in a position where support for particular hardware is available, but hasn't yet been built into the kernel.