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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 for more details on Intel x86 architecture systems which have been tested with Debian.

Rather than attempting to describe all the different hardware configurations which are supported for Intel x86, 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 Intel x86 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

Complete information concerning supported peripherals can be found at Linux Hardware Compatibility HOWTO. This section merely outlines the basics. CPU

Nearly all x86-based processors are supported; this includes AMD and VIA (former Cyrix) processors as well. Also the new processors like Athlon XP and Intel P4 Xeon are supported. However, Linux will not run on 286 or earlier processors. I/O Bus

The system bus is the part of the motherboard which allows the CPU to communicate with peripherals such as storage devices. Your computer must use the ISA, EISA, PCI, the Microchannel Architecture (MCA, used in IBM's PS/2 line), or VESA Local Bus (VLB, sometimes called the VL bus).

2.1.3. Graphics Card

You should be using a VGA-compatible display interface for the console terminal. Nearly every modern display card is compatible with VGA. Ancient standards such CGA, MDA, or HGA should also work, assuming you do not require X11 support. Note that X11 is not used during the installation process described in this document.

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 Debian 3.1 ships with XFree86 version 4.3.0.

2.1.4. Laptops

Laptops are also supported. Laptops are often specialized or contain proprietary hardware. To see if your particular laptop works well with GNU/Linux, see the Linux Laptop pages

2.1.5. Multiple Processors

Multi-processor support — also called “symmetric multi-processing” or SMP — is supported for this architecture, and is supported by a precompiled Debian kernel image. Depending on your install media, this SMP-capable kernel may or may not be installed by default. 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 should check to see if a kernel package that supports SMP is installed, and if not, choose an appropriate kernel package. You can also build your own customized kernel to support SMP. You can find a discussion of how to do this in Section 8.5, “Compiling a New Kernel”. At this time (kernel version 2.6.8) the way you enable SMP is to select “Symmetric multi-processing support” in the “Processor type and features” section of the kernel config.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire