The only way I know to check this, is to compile the different sound drivers into the kernel and check whether they are detected or not. The best way to do so, is to compile them as modules because it's easier to load different parameters such as interrupts and IO ports than. For the new 2.2.x kernels, read the /usr/src/linux/Documentation/sound/Introduction document by Wade Hampton. This document may help you get started with sound. Also, you might try one of the commercial sound drivers mentionend below.
Many new laptops come with 16-bit sound. But MWave and some other sound technologies won't work or are very hard to get working, e.g. booting to DOS, loading a driver, then using the soundcard as a standard SB-PRO. So you might need a commercial sound driver. With the recent announcement of Linux support by IBM™, it would be GREAT if IBM™ supported the MWave under Linux (hint, hint...). As a last ressort you may try the speaker module pcsnd, which tries to emulate a soundcard.
The original kernel sound driver by Hannu Savolainen.
ALSA Advanced Linux Sound Architecture . The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture aims to: be a fully-modularized sound driver which supports kerneld/kmod, ensure compatibility with most binary OSS/Lite applications, create an ALSA Library (C,C++) which covers the ALSA Kernel API for applications, and create ALSA Manager, an interactive configuration program for the driver.
UNIX Sound System Lite / OSS provides commercial sound card drivers for most popular sound cards under Linux. These drivers support digital audio, MIDI, Synthesizers and mixers found on sound cards. These sound drivers comply with the Open Sound System API specification. OSS provides a user-friendly GUI which makes the installation of sound drivers and configuration of sound cards very simple. OSS supports over 200 brand name sound cards. OSS drivers provide automatic sound card detection, Plug-n-Play support, support for PCI audio soundcards and support