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 3.1 supports eleven major architectures and several variations of each architecture known as “flavors”.

Architecture Debian Designation Subarchitecture Flavor
Intel x86-based i386   vanilla
Motorola 680x0 m68k Atari atari
Amiga amiga
68k Macintosh mac
VME bvme6000
DEC Alpha alpha    
Sun SPARC sparc   sun4cdm
ARM and StrongARM arm   netwinder
IBM/Motorola PowerPC powerpc CHRP chrp
PowerMac pmac
PReP prep
APUS apus
HP PA-RISC hppa PA-RISC 1.1 32
PA-RISC 2.0 64
Intel ia64-based ia64    
MIPS (big endian) mips SGI Indy/Indigo 2 r4k-ip22
Broadcom BCM91250A (SWARM) sb1-swarm-bn
MIPS (little endian) mipsel Cobalt cobalt
DECstation r4k-kn04
Broadcom BCM91250A (SWARM) sb1-swarm-bn
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 systems. The Debian userland however may be used by any ARM CPU including xscale.

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

The commonly supported systems are


This is actually the name for the group of machines based upon the StrongARM 110 CPU and Intel 21285 Northbridge. 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).


This is a modern ARM 920 board with a 266MHz Samsung processor. It has integrated IDE, USB, Serial, Parallel, audio, video, flash and two ethernet ports. This system has a good bootloader which is also found on the CATS and Riscstation systems.


This machine is the oldest supported hardware: it was released in 1994. It has RISC OS in ROM, Linux can be booted from that OS using linloader. The RiscPC has a modular CPU card and typically has a 30MHz 610, 40MHz 710 or 233MHz Strongarm 110 CPU fitted. The mainboard has integrated IDE, SVGA video, parallel port, single serial port, PS/2 keyboard and proprietary mouse port. The proprietary module expansion bus allows for up to eight expansion cards to be fitted depending on configuration, several of these modules have Linux drivers.


This is an inexpensive 56MHz 7500FE based machine with integrated video, IDE, PS/2 keyboard and mouse and two serial ports. Its lack of processing power was made up for by its price. It may be found in two configurations one with RISC OS and one with a simple bootloader.


This is a modular open hardware platform intended to be built by enthusiasts. To be useful to install Debian it requires its KSB expansion board.

2.1.3. Graphics Card

Debian's support for graphical interfaces is determined by the underlying support found in XFree86's X11 system. Most AGP, PCI and PCIe video cards work under XFree86. Details on supported graphics buses, cards, monitors, and pointing devices can be found at http://www.xfree86.org/. Debian 3.1 ships with XFree86 version 4.3.0.