Linux supports a wide range of PC
hardware, but not even Linux supports every known device and system.
Your PC must meet certain minimum requirements in order to run Linux,
which I describe in the following sections. For the latest and most
complete information, you should check Red Hat's
hardware compatibility web site,
This site will also help you determine whether Linux
supports the devices installed in your system. If
you're not familiar with PC hardware, check out
Robert and Barbara
Thompson's PC Hardware in a Nutshell: A
Desktop Quick Reference (O'Reilly), an
excellent introduction and reference to PC hardware.
2.1.1 Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Linux does not support the
Intel i386 and earlier processors. However, it fully supports the
Intel i486, Celeron, Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Pentium III,
and Pentium IV processors and compatible processors manufactured by
others, such as AMD's Athlon, Athlon XP, and Athlon
MP. Such processors are members of what is known as the
x86 family of
processors. Linux also supports non-Intel processors such as
AMD's AMD64 processor, IBM's
PowerPC processor, and certain processors used in IBM mainframes.
And, it supports Intel's Itanium processor.
Although Linux supports processors other than members of
Intel's x86 processor family, special measures are
required to install it on such processors. This book describes the
installation, configuration, and use of Linux on only the x86 family
Apart from the processor model, there's the issue of
processor speed. You should generally have a 400 MHz Pentium II or
faster processor for satisfactory results using Linux desktop
The motherboard is the main part of a PC. It
holds the CPU, RAM, and other internal computer components, linked by
several buses. Linux supports the standard ISA, EISA, PCI, and VESA
(VLB) system buses used on most IBM-compatible PCs, as well as the
AGP, and USB auxiliary buses. Fedora Core includes limited support
for the IEEE 1394 (FireWire) bus. However, the related software
components are largely untested.
Your motherboard should include at
least 256 MB of RAM for optimum Linux
performance. However, this figure is merely a guideline. Many people
manage to install Linux on systems having only 192-256 MB of RAM.
Some especially determined and skilled users have managed to coax
Linux into working on systems with as little as 4 MB of RAM by using
their own installation programs or methods. However, unless
you're a skilled system administrator and
programmer, it's not recommended that you attempt
such an exotic installation.
Red Hat does not support systems having less than the required amount
A handful of motherboards present special problems when installing
Linux. Generally, problems stem from bad BIOS, for which a fix is
often available. Check the Red Hat web site for details; the best way
to do so is via the knowledgebase search page at http://www.redhat.com/apps/support.
An anonymous wag once quipped that one
can never be too thin, be too rich, or have too much hard disk space.
Fortunately, Linux is not extremely hungry for disk space. To install
and use Linux, you should have a minimum of 4000 MB (4 GB) of free
hard disk space. More realistically, you should have at least 10 GB.
The "free hard disk space" required
by Linux must by truly free, unpartitioned space. you cannot install
Linux into a partition owned by another operating system, such as
Windows. However, Linux and Windows can co-exist on a single system,
so long as each operation system has its own partition or partitions.
For more information on partitions and partitioning, see Section 2.3.
For convenient installation using the
Linux installation CDs, your system needs a CD-ROM drive (both common
types, IDE and SCSI, are acceptable). Most recently manufactured PCs
can boot from a CD-ROM. If your PC can't do so, your
system should include a 3.5-inch floppy drive.
You'll use the floppy drive to boot your system from
a special Linux diskette you create. Instructions for how to create
the boot floppy can be found in Chapter 3.
It's also possible to install Linux from a PCMCIA
CD-ROM drive; an FTP, Web, or NFS server; or a hard drive.
See the Red Hat
Enterprise Linux Installation Guide and Red Hat
Enterprise Linux Reference Guide, included on the Red Hat
Enterprise Linux installation media. These documents are also
available at http://www.redhat.com/docs.
Because Fedora was only recently inaugurated, it does
not yet have documentation of a quality comparable to that included
with Red Hat Enterprise Linux. However, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux
documentation contains much information that is also applicable to