3.6. Pre-Installation Hardware and Operating System Setup

This section will walk you through pre-installation hardware setup, if any, that you will need to do prior to installing Debian. Generally, this involves checking and possibly changing firmware settings for your system. The “firmware” is the core software used by the hardware; it is most critically invoked during the bootstrap process (after power-up). Known hardware issues affecting the reliability of Debian GNU/Linux on your system are also highlighted.

3.6.1. Firmware Revisions and Existing OS Setup

Motorola 680x0 machines are generally self-configuring and do not require firmware configuration. However, you should make sure that you have the appropriate ROM and system patches. On the Macintosh, MacOS version >= 7.1 is recommended because version 7.0.1 contains a bug in the video drivers preventing the boot loader from deactivating the video interrupts, resulting in a boot hang. On the BVM VMEbus systems you should make sure you are using BVMBug revision G or higher boot ROMs. The BVMBug boot ROMs do not come as standard on the BVM systems but are available from BVM on request free of charge.

3.6.2. Hardware Issues to Watch Out For

Many people have tried operating their 90 MHz CPU at 100 MHz, etc. It sometimes works, but is sensitive to temperature and other factors and can actually damage your system. One of the authors of this document over-clocked his own system for a year, and then the system started aborting the gcc program with an unexpected signal while it was compiling the operating system kernel. Turning the CPU speed back down to its rated value solved the problem.

The gcc compiler is often the first thing to die from bad memory modules (or other hardware problems that change data unpredictably) because it builds huge data structures that it traverses repeatedly. An error in these data structures will cause it to execute an illegal instruction or access a non-existent address. The symptom of this will be gcc dying from an unexpected signal.

Atari TT RAM boards are notorious for RAM problems under Linux; if you encounter any strange problems, try running at least the kernel in ST-RAM. Amiga users may need to exclude RAM using a booter memfile. More than 64 MB RAM

The Linux Kernel cannot always detect what amount of RAM you have. If this is the case please look at Section 5.2, “Boot Parameters”.