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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 PowerPC architecture systems which have been tested with Debian.

Rather than attempting to describe all the different hardware configurations which are supported for PowerPC , this section contains general information and pointers to where additional information can be found.

2.1.1. Supported Architectures

Debian 4.10 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   generic
Sun SPARC sparc   sun4cdm
ARM and StrongARM arm   netwinder
IBM/Motorola PowerPC powerpc CHRP chrp
PowerMac powermac, new-powermac
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/I2 r4k-ip22
MIPS (little endian) mipsel DEC Decstation r4k-kn04
IBM S/390 s390   tape

This document covers installation for the PowerPC 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

There are four major supported powerpc flavors: PMac (Power-Macintosh) PReP, Apus, and CHRP machines. Ports to other powerpc architectures, such as the Be-Box and MBX architecture, are underway but not yet supported by Debian. We may have a 64bit port (Power3) in the future.

Apple (and briefly a few other manufacturers - Power Computing, for example) makes a series of Macintosh computers based on the PowerPC processor. For purposes of architecture support, they are categorized as NuBus, OldWorld PCI, and NewWorld.

Macintosh computers using the 680x0 series of processors are not in the PowerPC family but are instead m68k machines. Those models start with `Mac II' or have a 3-digit model number such as Centris 650 or Quadra 950. Apple's pre-iMac PowerPC model numbers have four digits.

NuBus systems are not currently supported by debian/powerpc. The monolithic Linux/PPC kernel architecture does not have support for these machines; instead, one must use the MkLinux Mach microkernel, which Debian does not yet support. These include the following:

  • Power Macintosh 6100, 7100, 8100

  • Performa 5200, 6200, 6300

  • Powerbook 1400, 2300, and 5300

  • Workgroup Server 6150, 8150, 9150

A linux kernel for these machines and limited support is available at

OldWorld systems are most Power Macintoshes with a floppy drive and a PCI bus. Most 603, 603e, 604, and 604e based Power Macintoshes are OldWorld machines. The beige colored G3 systems are also OldWorld.

The so called NewWorld PowerMacs are any PowerMacs in translucent colored plastic cases. That includes all iMacs, iBooks, G4 systems, blue colored G3 systems, and most PowerBooks manufactured in and after 1999. The NewWorld PowerMacs are also known for using the `ROM in RAM' system for MacOS, and were manufactured from mid-1998 onwards.

Recently introduced Macintosh systems have hardware which is more well supported by the 2.4 Linux kernel. For some, the 2.2 kernel just doesn't work. The new-powermac flavor, which uses the 2.4 kernel, has been added to keep up with the hardware. The new-powermac flavor may also be installed on other OldWorld and NewWorld machines. Machines for which new-powermac is highly recommended are flagged with an asterisk below.

Specifications for Apple hardware are available at AppleSpec, and, for older hardware, AppleSpec Legacy.

Model Name/Number Architecture
Apple iMac Bondi Blue, 5 Flavors, Slot Loading powermac-NewWorld
iMac Summer 2000, Early 2001 powermac-NewWorld
* iBook, iBook SE, iBook Dual USB powermac-NewWorld
* iBook2 powermac-NewWorld
Power Macintosh Blue and White (B&W) G3 powermac-NewWorld
* Power Macintosh G4 PCI, AGP, Cube powermac-NewWorld
* Power Macintosh G4 Gigabit Ethernet powermac-NewWorld
* Power Macintosh G4 Digital Audio, Quicksilver powermac-NewWorld
PowerBook G3 FireWire Pismo (2000) powermac-NewWorld
PowerBook G3 Lombard (1999) powermac-NewWorld
* PowerBook G4 Titanium powermac-NewWorld
Performa 4400, 54xx, 5500 powermac-OldWorld
Performa 6360, 6400, 6500 powermac-OldWorld
Power Macintosh 4400, 5400 powermac-OldWorld
Power Macintosh 7200, 7300, 7500, 7600 powermac-OldWorld
Power Macintosh 8200, 8500, 8600 powermac-OldWorld
Power Macintosh 9500, 9600 powermac-OldWorld
Power Macintosh (Beige) G3 Minitower powermac-OldWorld
Power Macintosh (Beige) Desktop, All-in-One powermac-OldWorld
PowerBook 2400, 3400, 3500 powermac-OldWorld
PowerBook G3 Wallstreet (1998) powermac-OldWorld
Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh powermac-OldWorld
Workgroup Server 7250, 7350, 8550, 9650, G3 powermac-OldWorld
Power Computing PowerBase, PowerTower / Pro, PowerWave powermac-OldWorld
PowerCenter / Pro, PowerCurve powermac-OldWorld
UMAX C500, C600, J700, S900 powermac-OldWorld
APS APS Tech M*Power 604e/2000 powermac-OldWorld
Motorola Starmax 3000, 4000, 5000, 5500 powermac-OldWorld
Firepower, PowerStack Series E, PowerStack II prep
MPC 7xx, 8xx prep
MTX, MTX+ prep
MVME2300(SC)/24xx/26xx/27xx/36xx/46xx prep
MCP(N)750 prep
IBM RS/6000 40P, 43P prep
Power 830/850/860 (6070, 6050) prep
6030, 7025, 7043 prep
p640 prep
B50, 43P-150, 44P chrp
Amiga Power-UP Systems (APUS) A1200, A3000, A4000 apus

2.1.3. Graphics Card

Debian's support for graphical interfaces is determined by the underlying support found in XFree86's X11 system. The newer AGP video slots are actually a modification on the PCI specification, and most AGP video cards work under XFree86. Details on supported graphics buses, cards, monitors, and pointing devices can be found at Debian 4.10 ships with XFree86 version 4.3.0.

2.1.4. Multiple Processors

Multi-processor support — also called ``symmetric multi-processing'' or SMP — is supported for this architecture. However, the standard Debian 4.10 kernel image does not support SMP. 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'll have to replace the standard Debian kernel. You can find a discussion of how to do this in Section 8.4, “Compiling a New Kernel”. At this time (kernel version the way you enable SMP is to select ``symmetric multi-processing'' in the ``General'' section of the kernel config.