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/powerpc/ for more details on PowerPC architecture systems which have been tested with Debian.

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

For Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 only the PMac (Power-Macintosh or PowerMac) and PreP subarchitectures are supported. Kernel Flavours

There are two flavours of the powerpc kernel in Debian, based on the CPU type:


Most systems use this kernel flavour, which supports the PowerPC 601, 603, 604, 740, 750, and 7400 processors. All Apple PowerMac machines up to and including the one marketed as G4 use one of these processors.


The power64 kernel flavour supports the following CPUs:

The POWER3 processor is used in older IBM 64-bit server systems: known models include the IntelliStation POWER Model 265, the pSeries 610 and 640, and the RS/6000 7044-170, 7043-260, and 7044-270.

The POWER4 processor is used in more recent IBM 64-bit server systems: known models include the pSeries 615, 630, 650, 655, 670, and 690.

Systems using the Apple G5 (PPC970FX processor) are also based on the POWER4 architecture, and use this kernel flavour. Power Macintosh (pmac) subarchitecture

Apple (and briefly a few other manufacturers — Power Computing, for example) made a series of Macintosh computers based on the PowerPC processor. For purposes of architecture support, they are categorized as NuBus (not supported by Debian), OldWorld, and NewWorld.

OldWorld systems are most Power Macintoshes with a floppy drive and a PCI bus. Most 603, 603e, 604, and 604e based Power Macintoshes are OldWorld machines. Those pre-iMac PowerPC models from Apple use a four digit naming scheme, except for the beige colored G3 systems, which are also OldWorld.

The so called NewWorld PowerMacs are any PowerMacs in translucent colored plastic cases and later models. That includes all iMacs, iBooks, G4 systems, blue colored G3 systems, and most PowerBooks manufactured in and after 1999. The NewWorld PowerMacs are also known for using the “ROM in RAM” system for MacOS, and were manufactured from mid-1998 onwards.

Specifications for Apple hardware are available at AppleSpec, and, for older hardware, AppleSpec Legacy.

Model Name/Number Generation
Apple iMac Bondi Blue, 5 Flavors, Slot Loading NewWorld
iMac Summer 2000, Early 2001 NewWorld
iMac G5 NewWorld
iBook, iBook SE, iBook Dual USB NewWorld
iBook2 NewWorld
iBook G4 NewWorld
Power Macintosh Blue and White (B&W) G3 NewWorld
Power Macintosh G4 PCI, AGP, Cube NewWorld
Power Macintosh G4 Gigabit Ethernet NewWorld
Power Macintosh G4 Digital Audio, Quicksilver NewWorld
Power Macintosh G5 NewWorld
PowerBook G3 FireWire Pismo (2000) NewWorld
PowerBook G3 Lombard (1999) NewWorld
PowerBook G4 Titanium NewWorld
PowerBook G4 Aluminum NewWorld
Xserve G5 NewWorld
Performa 4400, 54xx, 5500 OldWorld
Performa 6360, 6400, 6500 OldWorld
Power Macintosh 4400, 5400 OldWorld
Power Macintosh 7200, 7300, 7500, 7600 OldWorld
Power Macintosh 8200, 8500, 8600 OldWorld
Power Macintosh 9500, 9600 OldWorld
Power Macintosh (Beige) G3 Minitower OldWorld
Power Macintosh (Beige) Desktop, All-in-One OldWorld
PowerBook 2400, 3400, 3500 OldWorld
PowerBook G3 Wallstreet (1998) OldWorld
Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh OldWorld
Workgroup Server 7250, 7350, 8550, 9650, G3 OldWorld
Power Computing PowerBase, PowerTower / Pro, PowerWave OldWorld
PowerCenter / Pro, PowerCurve OldWorld
UMAX C500, C600, J700, S900 OldWorld
APS APS Tech M*Power 604e/2000 OldWorld
Motorola Starmax 3000, 4000, 5000, 5500 OldWorld PReP subarchitecture

Model Name/Number
Motorola Firepower, PowerStack Series E, PowerStack II
MPC 7xx, 8xx
IBM RS/6000 40P, 43P
Power 830/850/860 (6070, 6050)
6030, 7025, 7043
p640 CHRP subarchitecture (unsupported)

Model Name/Number
IBM RS/6000 B50, 43P-150, 44P
Genesi Pegasos I, Pegasos II APUS subarchitecture (unsupported)

Model Name/Number
Amiga Power-UP Systems (APUS) A1200, A3000, A4000 Nubus PowerMac subarchitecture (unsupported)

NuBus systems are not currently supported by Debian/powerpc. The monolithic Linux/PPC kernel architecture does not have support for these machines; instead, one must use the MkLinux Mach microkernel, which Debian does not yet support. These include the following:

  • Power Macintosh 6100, 7100, 8100

  • Performa 5200, 6200, 6300

  • Powerbook 1400, 2300, and 5300

  • Workgroup Server 6150, 8150, 9150

A linux kernel for these machines and limited support is available at http://nubus-pmac.sourceforge.net/. Non-PowerPC Macs

Macintosh computers using the 680x0 series of processors are not in the PowerPC family but are instead m68k machines. Those models start with “Mac II” series, go on to the “LC” family, then the Centris series, and culminate in the Quadras and Performas. These models usually have a Roman numeral or 3-digit model number such as Mac IIcx, LCIII or Quadra 950.

This model range started with the Mac II (Mac II, IIx, IIcx, IIci, IIsi, IIvi, IIvx, IIfx), then the LC (LC, LCII, III, III+, 475, 520, 550, 575, 580, 630), then the Mac TV, then the Centris (610, 650, 660AV), the Quadra (605, 610, 630, 650, 660AV, 700, 800, 840AV, 900, 950), and finally the Performa 200-640CD.

In laptops, it started with the Mac Portable, then the PowerBook 100-190cs and the PowerBook Duo 210-550c (excluding PowerBook 500 which is Nubus, please see the section above).

2.1.3. Multiple Processors

Multiprocessor support — also called “symmetric multiprocessing” or SMP — is available for this architecture. However, the standard Debian 5.0 kernel image does not support SMP. This should not prevent installation, since the standard, non-SMP kernel should boot on SMP systems; the kernel will simply use the first CPU.

In order to take advantage of multiple processors, you'll have to replace the standard Debian kernel. You can find a discussion of how to do this in Section 8.6, “Compiling a New Kernel”. At this time (kernel version 2.6.26) the way you enable SMP is to select “Symmetric multi-processing support” in the “Platform support” section of the kernel config.

2.1.4. 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.

2.1.5. 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. 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.

2.1.6. 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.

2.1.7. 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.