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/arm/ for more details on ARM architecture systems which have been tested with Debian.

Rather than attempting to describe all the different hardware configurations which are supported for ARM, 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 ARM 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

Each distinct ARM architecture requires its own kernel. Because of this the standard Debian distribution only supports installation on a number of the most common platforms. The Debian userland however may be used by any ARM CPU.

Most ARM CPUs may be run in either endian mode (big or little). However, the majority of current system implementation uses little-endian mode. Debian currently only supports little-endian ARM systems.

The supported platforms are:


This is actually the name for the group of machines based upon the StrongARM 110 CPU and Intel 21285 Northbridge (also known as Footbridge). It comprises of machines like: Netwinder (possibly one of the most common ARM boxes), CATS (also known as the EB110ATX), EBSA 285 and Compaq personal server (cps, aka skiff).


Intel's I/O Processor (IOP) line is found in a number of products related to data storage and processing. Debian currently supports the IOP32x platform, featuring the IOP 80219 and 32x chips commonly found in Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Debian explicitly supports two such devices: the GLAN Tank from IO-Data and the Thecus N2100.


The IXP4xx platform is based on Intel's XScale ARM core. Currently, only one IXP4xx based system is supported, the Linksys NSLU2. The Linksys NSLU2 (Network Storage Link for USB 2.0 Disk Drives) is a small device which allows you to easily provide storage via the network. It comes with an Ethernet connection and two USB ports to which hard drives can be connected. There is an external site with installation instructions.


Orion is a system on a chip (SoC) from Marvell that integrates an ARM CPU, Ethernet, SATA, USB, and other functionality in one chip. There are many Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices on the market that are based on an Orion chip. We currently support the following Orion based devices: Buffalo Kurobox, HP mv2120, QNAP Turbo Station (TS-109, TS-209 and TS-409).


The Versatile platform is emulated by QEMU and is therefore a nice way to test and run Debian on ARM if you don't have the hardware.

2.1.3. Graphics Card Support

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.

2.1.4. 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.

On ARM, most built-in Ethernet devices are supported and modules for additional PCI and USB devices are provided. The major exception is the IXP4xx platform (featuring devices such as the Linksys NSLU2) which needs a proprietary microcode for the operation of its built-in Ethernet device. Unofficial images for Linksys NSLU2 with this proprietary microcode can be obtained from the Slug-Firmware site.

2.1.5. 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.