Test hardware compatibility with installer medium?

Greetings. Numerous questions about hardware compatibility (e.g. graphics) for specific systems on this forum. I am looking for a general way to determine this. Will booting an installation medium (e.g. of Qubes 4.1 rc) be sufficient to determine hardware compatibility? Say you have a machine with another OS and you’d like to find out whether Qubes runs on it. Can one use the Qubes installer as a probe without wiping the current system? What component mainly determines hardware compatibility? Is it the kernel of Xen or the kernel of dom0? If a regular Linux installation with kernel X.Y is known to support a given hardware, can we expect a QubesOS with dom0 kernel X.Y to support it, too?

There are numerous topics on the forum about the compatibility.
This one is the most recent as I am aware of

See, and this very thread you mention runs into the problems I am seeking to solve once and for all: Even being on the HCL does not guarantee 100% of the hardware works as expected. Sometimes you find out only after the installation is complete. Therefore I am explicitly not asking whether particular hardware XY is compatible.

I am looking at qubes-issues on github and issues there seem to accumulate, never close. So I have little hope that opening installer issue no. 115 will make a difference. Essentially I am looking for some short answers to my questions from a QubesOS insider, nothing more. Ideally, the answers would eventually become part of the documentation.

Me too. If you read that topic, you probably noticed that I asked basically the same question, and that is why I mentioned it.

Well, I start to accept not answering in a expected way as answer itself, especially knowing that Qubes insiders give their best to help us.

Me too, and probably a lot of us. But, let’s see.

I don’t know whether the thing you are asking for is technically possible and maintainable. However, the project and the community are very aware of the issue. The measures already in place are:

  1. Certified Hardware works guaranteed, since the team will “ensure compatibility with the supported major version”.
  2. Community-recommended computers is a constantly updated list of machines that are used by multiple community members and work well with Qubes OS.

Beyond that there are some principles one can employ when looking at a machine:

  • check the system requirements to make sure the CPU supports Vt-d and the machine has enough memory etc.
  • check the HCL whether someone else has already tried, and follow the link under the reporters name to the thread that discusses this machine.
  • if the machine works well with the Fedora version dom0 is based on, that’s a good sign as well
  • avoid brand new machines / CPUs as it takes a while for them to be supported by Linux and that Linux version to make it into dom0
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Thanks for the explanations, Sven. Is there anyone who can give more precise answers? Regarding HCL, I’ve submitted an HCL report myself so I know that the existence of such report essentially means installation is complete, nothing more. Further, “a good sign” is not enough to justify actually buying a machine. Do you know whether dom0 is actually responsible for hardware compatibility (beyond virtualization?)

Yes, I know I should keep away from new hardware but I need a machine that fits my needs. Especially since I’m looking for a desktop machine, the choices of certified/community recommended models is very short.

I have no knowledge of the internals of the Qubes OS installer. Perhaps what I’m after means to just include a few diagnostics tools into the ISO. I’d be okay to have them available in a shell and tinker with them. Perhaps everything is already there and just not documented.

I should have thought of that, fsflover suggested it: Using two USB dongles one can perform some hardware testing. The first USB drive is the Qubes installer, the second (larger) USB drive is the disk to install to. This is a bit cumbersome and takes quite some time but works.
However, on my test machine the prepared USB drive could be used to boot only once. After hat, despite setting it #1 in the boot order, the machine ignored it.

After restarting the machine, USB may be ignored, but after clean shutdown and starting it via power button, it shouldn’t. You can always select boot disk via F9 or some other function key specific for your brand.