Linux needs the equivalent of Microsoft's DirectX API's
SDL [libsdl.org]
a single, unified graphical interface which substantially eases progarmming issues
In regards to what? GUI applications?
Linux also needs the equivalent of Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) for true automated configuration of new hardware, especially "hot docked" external devices through the USB 2.0 and IEEE-1394 interfaces.
Shrug, if you want hardware detection, choose a distro that does it for you, like Knoppix, Mandrake, etc. I prefer the choice to have exacting control over my system configuration.