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Linux Tutorial - Installing and Upgrading - Preparing for the Installation - Hardware Requirements
  Installation Checklist ---- Partitioning  

Hardware Requirements

Although Linux will install and run on something as small as a 386/16 with no hard disk (you boot from floppies), you cant really expect to run your business on it. To do useful work, you have to be installed on a hard disk and have at least 4MB of RAM for text-based applications and 8MB if you are running X-Windows.

However, this, too, is pushing things a bit, and you probably can only have one user working effectively. Consider an extra megabyte per user for text applications and 2MB for X-Windows, or slightly less if the users will all be using the same applications (because the text segments will be shared).

The amount of hard disk space you need is a completely different matter. Its not as easy to come up with a rule of thumb because each site will want to have a different set of applications. The basic UNIX utilities and programs will fit in less than 20MB. However, there is not much you can do with that. On the other end of the scale, I installed the Caldera Network Desktop with the Internet Office Suite onto a 500MB partition containing a complete RedHat distribution. Today, distributions like SuSE Linux come with up to seven CDs, which will obviously take up several gigabytes when fully installed. I then had to reinstall to make the partition larger because I ran out of space. In the middle is my laptop, on which I have a 100MB partition and almost a complete Linux installation (no X-Windows).

Most of the commercial distributions list a few example installations and how much hard disk space you will need. Every commercial product I have seen lists how much space you will need. The products that are bundled with a Linux distribution also tell you how much the OS will/can take. It is therefore fairly easy to get an idea of how much space you will need.

For the most part, if you have a standard PC, Linux will run on it. By "standard" I mean that the components are common brands and types, there are no clones and the hardware has been on the market for more than a week.

Linux is most commonly available for Intel machines. However, a few commercial versions are available for the DEC Alpha processor. There are also versions for the Motorola 680x0 as well as the PowerPC, SPARC, and MIPS (how many am I missing?). The best thing to do is check the Hardware HOWTO to see whether the hardware you have is supported.

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