As long as your chipset is supported, that shouldn't matter, as long as you build the support for ALL of them into your kernel statically, not as modules.
Originally Posted by HROAdmin26
It depends really on the distro. Most distros can autoconfigure the nics at startup. You will need to reconfigure the display only if you are not going to use vesa. Vesa should just work.
And then if it does boot, there is usually additional reconfiguration needed for the display, NIC, and wireless (at the least.)
It IS the case. It's a common operation that I do lots of times, though I don't use disk images, I use a compressed tarball instead and then I reinstall grub. In fact, this is the standard procedure to defrag a partition under linux (though in that case the hardware will not change).
If this worked well, disaster recovery would be as easy as "restore the backup image to any HW available", which is not the case.
That entirely depends on the distro and how you configure it.
The "autodetect HW" sequence that is run when you have a LiveCD is not the same as when the OS is installed to the HDD.
Not usually. Most distros use prebuilt kernels with EVERYTHING enabled. So, as long as the hardware is supported, it should be painless and easy to change it. You will have to reconfigure your xorg.conf if you are going to use 3d acceleration or the like, though.
Once installed locally, the config is tailored to the existing HW, like all OS'es.
I don't think it's any cleaner. Unlike windows (which horribly breaks if something change) linux is just a collection of files. And the same files will be installed regardless of your hardware. It's up to the kernel to detect the hardware and load the correct modules, amongst those that are on the disk. By default, most linux OSes ship kernels with ALL the drivers, and the kernel loads them on-demand.
Once you finish the "imaging" and getting the OS fully working, you would have spent less time/pain just running an automated network install - and it would be a "cleaner" install.
It's not quite as hard as you seem to think.