To run Debian, you need at least a 486 processor and 32MB of RAM. For a server or a graphical workstation (running the X Window System), you should plan on having at least 128MB of memory and a Pentium-class processor.
A minimal set of packages requires 250MB of disk space, and a normal installation of desktop applications can require a few gigabytes. Additional space will be needed to store any data files that you want to keep on the system.
Most ISA and PCI network cards are supported under Linux, although ISA models are not usually detected automatically by the installer. Inexpensive cards based on RealTek 8139 chipsets can be found at most PC dealers and will work fine for low-demand applications. Intel PRO/100 and PRO/1000 adapters are supported in Linux and will work well in high-demand applications, as will cards based on the "tulip" chipsets and most 3com network cards.
Many newer systems include software-based modems that are not supported by the manufacturer under Linux. If you require a dial-up connection for Internet access, see Chapter 11 and check out http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Modem-HOWTO-2.html before you start the installation process.
Many other devices, such as sound and video capture cards, can also be used under Linux. For more information about hardware compatibility, see the Hardware Compatibility HOWTO at http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Hardware-HOWTO/.
In most cases, workstation users will want to run the X Window System (X11). The ability to run X11 depends on compatibility with the video chipset on your video card or mainboard. Debian 4.0 includes version 7.1 of X.org, which includes better autodetection than the XFree86 X11 system previously used.
A Linux server installation generally consists of only the minimum set of packages required to provide the service for which it was designed. In particular, this means that servers do not usually have a graphical interface installed.
Server hardware is generally more expensive than workstation hardware, although you can still run smaller servers on less-expensive desktop hardware. If you are planning to store important data on your server, you will want to look into a RAID array for storage. A number of inexpensive ATA RAID controllers work well under Linux.
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