There seems to be quite a lot of questions that follow the same pattern:

Can I run elementary OS without any issues on XXX?

where XXX is a specific hardware configuration or laptop model.

Should these questions be considered on- or off-topic?

On one hand, I see no problem with posting them, but on the other, I doubt that there's a lot of users who can successfully answer them.


  • 1 yes, 2 no, 3 yes. 2 because it feels partly opinion based, 1 and 3 because they deal with specific issues.
    – quassy
    Jul 30, 2015 at 0:17

2 Answers 2


Yes, hardware-specific questions are on-topic. The asker would rarely know whether the issue they're asking about is specific to their particular model or generic across the whole class.

Questions that are truly hardware-specific often get a poor response even on Unix & Linux which has a relatively broad technical audience. I think that's unavoidable to some extent: they interest only people who have the exact same hardware. But fortunately many hardware-related questions are amenable to generic investigation methods. In any case, being difficult to answer doesn't make a question off-topic.

  • 1
    I have a feeling that our area51 answer rate is going to be hit severely because of this. I hope it won't be a problem.
    – r3bl
    Aug 4, 2015 at 22:08
  • @r3bl Don't pay any attention to that figure. It got put there because SE wanted to have some metrics, and wasn't retired even after they figured out this metric did more harm than good. Aug 4, 2015 at 22:10

Hardware specific questions are rarely considered on-topic throughout StackExchange, and since we use the Ubuntu kernel, asking on AskUbuntu.com or Unix.SE would be much more likely to get a usable answer.

  • 4
    I honestly doubt there will be answers on askubuntu for such questions - Yes, it is the Ubuntu kernel, but askubuntu is only on-topic for official Ubuntu flavors. elementary OS is none of them, so it is off-topic there, strictly speaking.
    – embik
    Jul 27, 2015 at 17:26
  • So are we saying hardware specific questions are off topic anywhere (what I opened with) and we'll just close them?
    – Lewis Goddard Mod
    Jul 27, 2015 at 21:03
  • I disagree. Questions about hardware are on-topic to me, but it's not necessarily likely there will be someone answering. I think we should tell people about that ("you might not get an answer because there's a lot of different hardware around, but you can try a live session, bla bla"), but leave the question open for future answers. It's also useful for people to open a question and answer it themselves if they stumbled upon problems and want to publish their findings.
    – embik
    Jul 28, 2015 at 5:38
  • AskUbuntu has a canonical question describing how to best conduct your own research outside of StackExchange. Would this not be preferable to potentially hundreds of unanswerable questions?
    – Lewis Goddard Mod
    Jul 28, 2015 at 6:29
  • I think creating a "reference question" is a good start indeed. Add links, give certain advice, remark "although Ubuntu communities do not support elementary OS (so don't ask about it there!), they are always a good starting point for research regarding supported hardware, as elementary OS is derived from Ubuntu", stuff like that.
    – embik
    Jul 28, 2015 at 7:44
  • However, while I think we should discourage questions about every single piece of hardware, I think we should not close them. There might be questions regarding hardware that are very much justified and there might be a good answer and that's hard to decide for every case IMHO. Just tell them there might be no answer to their question, link the "research" canonical question we have to create and we're good to go.
    – embik
    Jul 28, 2015 at 7:47
  • 3
    I don't think it's a good idea to punt to Ask.Ubuntu. Questions about other distros are strictly off-topic there and our hardware stack is not identical to any given Ubuntu release. Jul 28, 2015 at 17:46

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