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1 The Central Processing Unit 9

2 Motherboards 31

3 Memory 75

4 Case and Power Supply 103


• CPU Architectures 10

• Generations of x86 CPUs 15

• Linux CPU Requirements 24

• The x86 CPU Marketplace 27

Part i

You 're presumably reading this book because you want to buy, build, or upgrade a computer to be used with Linux, or because you want to ascertain your existing computer's compatibility with Linux. Depending upon your needs, you might find it most convenient to skip directly to the chapter on whatever hardware is of most immediate interest to you. If you want a thorough grounding in the subject, though, you can start at the beginning and work through the entire subject. For computer hardware, the beginning is arguably the central processing unit (CPU).

At the core of every computer lies the CPU. This component is perhaps the most important computing component in a computer. Other devices, such as hard disks, RAM, and so on, can be extremely important in determining the speed and usability of a computer, but the CPU performs the bulk of the computer's computational tasks. Your choice of CPU, therefore, influences your computer's speed and, just as importantly, determines what operating systems you can run. Fortunately, Linux is available for many types of CPUs, although the OS is most popular on the Intel x86 line of CPUs and its clones.


The term CPU is sometimes used to refer to the main "box" of a computer—the part that houses the motherboard, hard disk, and so on, as opposed to the monitor, keyboard, or mouse. Throughout this book, though, I use CPU in reference to the chip at the core of the computer, not the main system box.

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