2.1. Supported Hardware

Debian does not impose hardware requirements beyond the requirements of the Linux or kFreeBSD kernel and the GNU tool-sets. Therefore, any architecture or platform to which the Linux or kFreeBSD 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 64-bit PC architecture systems which have been tested with Debian GNU/Linux.

Rather than attempting to describe all the different hardware configurations which are supported for 64-bit PC, this section contains general information and pointers to where additional information can be found.

2.1.1. Supported Architectures

Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 supports eleven major architectures and several variations of each architecture known as flavors.

Architecture Debian Designation Subarchitecture Flavor
Intel x86-based i386    
AMD64 & Intel 64 amd64    
ARM armel Intel IOP32x iop32x
Intel IXP4xx ixp4xx
Marvell Kirkwood kirkwood
Marvell Orion orion5x
Versatile versatile
ARM with hardware FPU armhf Freescale mx5
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
MIPS (little endian) mipsel Cobalt cobalt
MIPS Malta (32 bit) 4kc-malta
MIPS Malta (64 bit) 5kc-malta
IBM/Motorola PowerPC powerpc PowerMac pmac
PReP prep
Sun SPARC sparc sun4u sparc64
sun4v
IBM S/390 s390 IPL from VM-reader and DASD generic
64bit IBM S/390 s390x IPL from VM-reader and DASD generic

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD 7.0 supports two architectures.

Architecture Debian Designation
Intel x86-based kfreebsd-i386
AMD64 & Intel 64 kfreebsd-amd64

This document covers installation for the 64-bit PC architecture using the Linux kernel. 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 Support

Both AMD64 and Intel 64 processors are supported.

2.1.3. Laptops

From a technical point of view, laptops are normal PCs, so all information regarding PC systems applies to laptops as well. Installations on laptops nowadays usually work out of the box, including things like automatically suspending the system on closing the lid and laptop specfic hardware buttons like those for disabling the wifi interfaces (airplane mode). Nonetheless sometimes the hardware vendors use specialized or proprietary hardware for some laptop-specific functions which might 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 7.0 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.

Having multiple processors in a computer was originally only an issue for high-end server systems but has become quite common in recent years even for rather low-end desktop computers and laptops with the introduction of so called multi-core processors. These contain two or more processor units, called cores, in one physical chip.

2.1.5. Graphics Card Support

Debian's support for graphical interfaces is determined by the underlying support found in X.Org's X11 system. On modern PCs, having a graphical display usually works out of the box. Whether advanced graphics card features such as 3D-hardware acceleration or hardware-accelerated video are available, depends on the actual graphics hardware used in the system and in some cases on the installation of additional firmware images (see Section 2.2, “Devices Requiring Firmware”). In very few cases there have been reports about hardware on which installation of additional graphics card firmware was required even for basic graphics support, but these have been rare exceptions.

Details on supported graphics cards and pointing devices can be found at http://xorg.freedesktop.org/. Debian 7.0 ships with X.Org version 7.7.

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; drivers should normally be loaded automatically. This includes most PCI/PCI-Express cards as well as PCMCIA/Express Cards on laptops.

ISDN is supported, but not during the installation.

2.1.6.1. Wireless Network Cards

Wireless networking is in general supported as well and a growing number of wireless adapters are supported by the official Linux kernel, although many of them do require firmware to be loaded.

If firmware is needed, the installer will prompt you to load firmware. See Section 6.4, “Loading Missing Firmware” for detailed information on how to load firmware during the installation.

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.

If there is a problem with wireless and 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 7.0 ships with brltty version 4.4.

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, serial-to-USB or PCI adapters are supported). Details on supported hardware speech synthesis devices can be found on the speakup website. Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 ships with speakup version 3.1.6.

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. On some very old PC systems some USB keyboards may require additional configuration (see Section 3.6.3, “Hardware Issues to Watch Out For”). On modern PCs, USB keyboards and mice work without requiring any specific configuration.