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/amd64/ for more details on AMD64 architecture systems which have been tested with Debian.

Rather than attempting to describe all the different hardware configurations which are supported for AMD64, this section contains general information and pointers to where additional information can be found.

2.1.1. Supported Architectures

Debian 5.0 supports eleven 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 arm Netwinder and CATS netwinder
armel Versatile versatile
arm and armel Intel IOP32x iop32x
Intel IXP4xx ixp4xx
Marvell Orion orion5x
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
MIPS Malta (32 bit) 4kc-malta
MIPS Malta (64 bit) 5kc-malta
Broadcom BCM91250A (SWARM) sb1-bcm91250a
Broadcom BCM91480B (BigSur) sb1a-bcm91480b
MIPS (little endian) mipsel Cobalt cobalt
MIPS Malta (32 bit) 4kc-malta
MIPS Malta (64 bit) 5kc-malta
Broadcom BCM91250A (SWARM) sb1-bcm91250a
Broadcom BCM91480B (BigSur) sb1a-bcm91480b
IBM/Motorola PowerPC powerpc PowerMac pmac
PReP prep
Sun SPARC sparc sun4u sparc64
IBM S/390 s390 IPL from VM-reader and DASD generic
IPL from tape tape

This document covers installation for the AMD64 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. CPU

Both AMD64 and Intel EM64T processors are supported.

2.1.3. Laptops

Laptops are also supported and nowadays most laptops work out of the box. In case a laptop contains specialized or proprietary hardware, some specific functions may not be supported. To see if your particular laptop works well with GNU/Linux, see for example the Linux Laptop pages.

2.1.4. Multiple Processors

Multiprocessor support — also called “symmetric multiprocessing” or SMP — is available for this architecture. The standard Debian 5.0 kernel image has been 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.

2.1.5. 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 5.0 ships with X.Org version 7.3.

2.1.6. Network Connectivity Hardware

Almost any network interface card (NIC) supported by the Linux kernel should also be supported by the installation system; modular drivers should normally be loaded automatically. This includes most PCI and PCMCIA cards.

ISDN is supported, but not during the installation. Wireless Network Cards

Wireless networking is in general supported as well and a growing number of wireless adapters is supported by the official Linux kernel, although many of them do require firmware to be loaded. Wireless NICs that are not supported by the official Linux kernel can generally be made to work under Debian GNU/Linux, but are not supported during the installation.

The use of wireless networking during installation is still under development and whether it will work depends on the type of adaptor and the configuration of your wireless access point. If there is no other NIC you can use during the installation, it is still possible to install Debian GNU/Linux using a full CD-ROM or DVD image. Select the option to not configure a network and install using only the packages available from the CD/DVD. You can then install the driver and firmware you need after the installation is completed (after the reboot) and configure your network manually.

In some cases the driver you need may not be available as a Debian package. You will then have to look if there is source code available in the internet and compile the driver yourself. How to do this is outside the scope of this manual. If no Linux driver is available, your last resort is to use the ndiswrapper package, which allows you to use a Windows driver.

2.1.7. Braille Displays

Support for braille displays is determined by the underlying support found in brltty. Most displays work under brltty, connected via either a serial port, USB or bluetooth. Details on supported braille devices can be found on the brltty website. Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 ships with brltty version 3.10.

2.1.8. Hardware Speech Synthesis

Support for hardware speech synthesis devices is determined by the underlying support found in speakup. speakup only supports integrated boards and external devices connected to a serial port (no USB or serial-to-USB adapters are supported). Details on supported hardware speech synthesis devices can be found on the speakup website. Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 ships with speakup version 3.0.3.

2.1.9. Peripherals and Other Hardware

Linux supports a large variety of hardware devices such as mice, printers, scanners, PCMCIA and USB devices. However, most of these devices are not required while installing the system.

USB hardware generally works fine, only some USB keyboards may require additional configuration (see Section 3.6.4, “Hardware Issues to Watch Out For”).

Again, see the Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO to determine whether your specific hardware is supported by Linux.