2.1. Supported Hardware

Debian does not impose hardware requirements beyond the requirements of the Linux kernel and the GNU tool-sets. Therefore, any architecture or platform to which the Linux kernel, libc, gcc, etc. have been ported, and for which a Debian port exists, can run Debian. Please refer to the Ports pages at http://www.debian.org/ports/i386/ for more details on Intel x86 architecture systems which have been tested with Debian.

Rather than attempting to describe all the different hardware configurations which are supported for Intel x86, this section contains general information and pointers to where additional information can be found.

2.1.1. Supported Architectures

Debian 4.0 supports twelve major architectures and several variations of each architecture known as “flavors”.

Architecture Debian Designation Subarchitecture Flavor
Intel x86-based i386    
AMD64 & Intel EM64T amd64    
DEC Alpha alpha    
ARM and StrongARM arm Netwinder and CATS netwinder
Intel IOP32x iop32x
Intel IXP4xx ixp4xx
RiscPC rpc
HP PA-RISC hppa PA-RISC 1.1 32
PA-RISC 2.0 64
Intel IA-64 ia64    
MIPS (big endian) mips SGI IP22 (Indy/Indigo 2) r4k-ip22
SGI IP32 (O2) r5k-ip32
Broadcom BCM91250A (SWARM) sb1-bcm91250a
Broadcom BCM91480B (BigSur) sb1a-bcm91480b
MIPS (little endian) mipsel Cobalt cobalt
DECstation r4k-kn04
r3k-kn02
Broadcom BCM91250A (SWARM) sb1-bcm91250a
Broadcom BCM91480B (BigSur) sb1a-bcm91480b
Motorola 680x0 m68k Atari atari
Amiga amiga
68k Macintosh mac
VME bvme6000
mvme147
mvme16x
IBM/Motorola PowerPC powerpc CHRP chrp
PowerMac pmac
PReP prep
Sun SPARC sparc sun4m sparc32
sun4u sparc64
sun4v
IBM S/390 s390 IPL from VM-reader and DASD generic
IPL from tape tape

This document covers installation for the Intel x86 architecture. If you are looking for information on any of the other Debian-supported architectures take a look at the Debian-Ports pages.

2.1.2. CPU, Main Boards, and Video Support

Complete information concerning supported peripherals can be found at Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO. This section merely outlines the basics.

2.1.2.1. CPU

Nearly all x86-based (IA-32) processors still in use in personal computers are supported, including all varieties of Intel's "Pentium" series. This also includes 32-bit AMD and VIA (former Cyrix) processors, and processors like the Athlon XP and Intel P4 Xeon.

Note

If your system has a 64-bit processor from the AMD64 or Intel EM64T families, you will probably want to use the installer for the amd64 architecture instead of the installer for the (32-bit) i386 architecture.

However, Debian GNU/Linux etch will not run on 386 or earlier processors. Despite the architecture name "i386", support for actual 80386 processors (and their clones) was dropped with the Sarge (r3.1) release of Debian[2]. (No version of Linux has ever supported the 286 or earlier chips in the series.) All i486 and later processors are still supported[3].

2.1.2.2. I/O Bus

The system bus is the part of the motherboard which allows the CPU to communicate with peripherals such as storage devices. Your computer must use the ISA, EISA, PCI, the Microchannel Architecture (MCA, used in IBM's PS/2 line), or VESA Local Bus (VLB, sometimes called the VL bus). Essentially all personal computers sold in recent years use one of these.

2.1.3. Graphics Card Support

You should be using a VGA-compatible display interface for the console terminal. Nearly every modern display card is compatible with VGA. Ancient standards such CGA, MDA, or HGA should also work, assuming you do not require X11 support. Note that X11 is not used during the installation process described in this document.

Debian's support for graphical interfaces is determined by the underlying support found in X.Org's X11 system. Most AGP, PCI and PCIe video cards work under X.Org. Details on supported graphics buses, cards, monitors, and pointing devices can be found at http://xorg.freedesktop.org/. Debian 4.0 ships with X.Org version 7.1.

2.1.4. Laptops

Laptops are also supported. Laptops are often specialized or contain proprietary hardware. To see if your particular laptop works well with GNU/Linux, see the Linux Laptop pages

2.1.5. Multiple Processors

Multiprocessor support — also called “symmetric multiprocessing” or SMP — is available for this architecture. The standard Debian 4.0 kernel image was compiled with SMP-alternatives support. This means that the kernel will detect the number of processors (or processor cores) and will automatically deactivate SMP on uniprocessor systems.

The 486 flavour of the Debian kernel image packages for Intel x86 is not compiled with SMP support.



[2] We have long tried to avoid this, but in the end it was necessary due a unfortunate series of issues with the compiler and the kernel, starting with an bug in the C++ ABI provided by GCC. You should still be able to run Debian GNU/Linux on actual 80386 processors if you compile your own kernel and compile all packages from source, but that is beyond the scope of this manual.

[3] Many Debian packages will actually run slightly faster on modern computers as a positive side effect of dropping support for these old chips. The i486, introduced in 1989, has three opcodes (bswap, cmpxchg, and xadd) which the i386, introduced in 1986, did not have. Previously, these could not be easily used by most Debian packages; now they can.