Selecting Hardware for a Linux System

In this article Phil Hughes describes the basics of choosing a hardware platform for Linux.

Character-based Linux applications will work with any video board available for the PC. If, however, you want to run X-windows, you will need to select a supported video board. Although there is nothing difficult about supporting any boards, some manufacturers have refused to make the specifications available; therefore, Linux drivers could not be written for their hardware. One major vendor who has not released specifications (and is therefore not supported) is Diamond. The most cost-effective accelerated video boards supported by Linux are the low-end S3 boards. STB and Orchid are two vendors who have cards available for about $130-$150 that will be adequate for almost all Linux users. High-end S3 and ATI boards which are supported are available in the $350-$500, and will increase your video performance. You will want to check the XFree86-HOWTO for more current details when you are making your decision.

Low-End Configuration and High-Performance Systems


Shopping for Linux hardware isn't harder than shopping for DOS/Windows hardware. If you are comfortable selecting video boards and talking about RAM chips, you should have no problem selecting what you need. On the other hand, if you don't want to know what a SCSI is, you may be better off to let someone else pick the hardware for you. Much like picking DOS/Windows hardware, define what you want to do; what sort of things you will be running on the computer system. Then give your requirements to a Linux-knowledgeable hardware vendor and see what they have to offer. Whether you do your own hardware selection or just get some ideas from this article and let someone else pick, expect the end result to be a real Unix-like com-puter system; for your work, for fun or for both.

Phil Hughes is the publisher of Linux Journal, and has put together a few Linux systems in his time.

Phil Hughes is the publisher of Linux Journal, and has put together a few Linux systems in his time.


Phil Hughes