Debian does not impose hardware requirements beyond the requirements of the Linux or kFreeBSD kernel and the GNU tool-sets. Therefore, any architecture or platform to which the Linux or kFreeBSD kernel, libc, gcc, etc. have been ported, and for which a Debian port exists, can run Debian. Please refer to the Ports pages at http://www.debian.org/ports/arm/ for more details on ARM architecture systems which have been tested with Debian GNU/Linux.
Rather than attempting to describe all the different hardware configurations which are supported for ARM, this section contains general information and pointers to where additional information can be found.
Debian GNU/Linux 8 supports eight major architectures and several variations of each architecture known as “flavors”.
|AMD64 & Intel 64||amd64|
|ARM with hardware FPU||armhf||multiplatform||armmp|
|multiplatform for LPAE-capable systems||armmp-lpae|
|MIPS (big endian)||mips||SGI IP22 (Indy/Indigo 2)||r4k-ip22|
|SGI IP32 (O2)||r5k-ip32|
|MIPS Malta (32 bit)||4kc-malta|
|MIPS Malta (64 bit)||5kc-malta|
|MIPS (little endian)||mipsel||MIPS Malta (32 bit)||4kc-malta|
|MIPS Malta (64 bit)||5kc-malta|
|IBM PowerPC (little endian)||ppc64el|
|64bit IBM S/390||s390x||IPL from VM-reader and DASD||generic|
Debian GNU/kFreeBSD 8 supports two architectures.
|AMD64 & Intel 64||kfreebsd-amd64|
This document covers installation for the ARM architecture using the Linux kernel. If you are looking for information on any of the other Debian-supported architectures take a look at the Debian-Ports pages.
ARM systems are a lot more heterogenous than the i386/amd64-based PC architecture, where all systems share a common system firmware (BIOS or/and UEFI) which handles the board-specific basic hardware initialization in a standardized way. The ARM architecture is used mainly in so-called “systems-on-chip” (SoCs). These SoCs are designed by many different companies with vastly varying hardware components even for the very basic functionality required to bring the system up. Systems using them usually lack a common system firmware interface and as a result, on ARM systems the Linux kernel has to take care of many system-specific low-level issues which are handled by the mainboard's BIOS in the PC world.
At the beginning of the ARM support in the Linux kernel, this resulted in the requirement of having a seperate kernel for each ARM system in contrast to the “one-fits-all” kernel for PC systems. As this approach does not scale to a large number of different systems, work has started to be able to provide a single ARM kernel that can run on different ARM systems. Support for newer ARM systems gets implemented in a way that allows the use of such a multiplatform kernel, but for several older systems a seperate specific kernel is still required. Because of this, the standard Debian distribution only supports installation on a selected number of older ARM systems in addition to the newer systems which are supported by the ARM multiplatform (armmp) kernel.
The ARM architecture has evolved over time and modern ARM processors provide features which are not available in older models. Debian therefore provides two ARM ports, the Debian/armel and the Debian/armhf port. Debian/armel targets older ARM processors without support for a hardware floating point unit (FPU), while Debian/armhf works only on newer ARM processors which implement at least the ARMv7 architecture with version 3 of the ARM vector floating point specification (VFPv3). Debian/armhf makes use of the extended features and performance enhancements available on these models.
Technically, several ARM CPUs can be run in either endian mode (big or little), but in practice the vast majority of currently available systems uses little-endian mode. Both Debian/armhf and Debian/armel support only little-endian systems.
The following platforms are supported by Debian/armel; they require platform-specific kernels.
The Intel IXP4xx processor series is used in network attached storage devices like the Linksys NSLU2.
Kirkwood is a system on a chip (SoC) from Marvell that integrates an ARM CPU, Ethernet, SATA, USB, and other functionality in one chip. We currently support the following Kirkwood based devices: OpenRD (OpenRD-Base, OpenRD-Client and OpenRD-Ultimate), plug computers (SheevaPlug, GuruPlug and DreamPlug), QNAP Turbo Station (all TS-11x, TS-21x and TS-41x models), and LaCie NASes (Network Space v2, Network Space Max v2, Internet Space v2, d2 Network v2, 2Big Network v2 and 5Big Network v2).
Orion is a system on a chip (SoC) from Marvell that integrates an ARM CPU, Ethernet, SATA, USB, and other functionality in one chip. There are many Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices on the market that are based on an Orion chip. We currently support the following Orion based devices: Buffalo Kurobox, D-Link DNS-323 and HP mv2120.
The Versatile platform is emulated by QEMU and is therefore a nice way to test and run Debian on ARM if you don't have the hardware.
Intel's I/O Processor (IOP) line is found in a number of products related to data storage and processing, such as the GLAN Tank from IO-Data and the Thecus N2100. Debian has supported the IOP32x platform in Debian 7, but does not support it anymore from version 8 on due to hardware constraints of the platform which make it unsuitable for the installation of newer Debian releases.
The MV78xx0 platform has been used on the Marvell DB-78xx0-BP development board. It was supported in Debian 7 with a platform-specific kernel (based on the Linux kernel version 3.2), but is not supported anymore from Debian 8 onwards.
The following systems are known to work with Debian/armhf using the multiplatform (armmp) kernel:
The IMX53QSB is a development board based on the i.MX53 SoC.
The Versatile Express is a development board series from ARM consisting of a baseboard which can be equipped with various CPU daughterboards.
The armmp kernel supports several development boards and embedded systems based on the Allwinner A10 (architecture codename “sun4i”), A10s/A13 (architecture codename “sun5i”) and A20 (architecture codename “sun7i”) SoCs. Full installer support is currently available for the following sunXi-based systems:
Cubietech Cubieboard 1 + 2 / Cubietruck
LeMaker Banana Pi and Banana Pro
Olimex A10-Olinuxino-LIME / A10s-Olinuxino Micro / A13-Olinuxino / A13-Olinuxino Micro / A20-Olinuxino-LIME / A20-Olinuxino-LIME2 / A20-Olinuxino Micro
PineRiver Mini X-Plus
System support for Allwinner sunXi-based devices is limited to drivers and device-tree information available in the mainline Linux kernel. The android-derived linux-sunxi.org 3.4 kernel series is not supported by Debian.
The mainline Linux kernel generally supports serial console, ethernet, SATA, USB and MMC/SD-cards on Allwinner A10, A10s/A13 and A20 SoCs, but it does not have native drivers for the display (HDMI/VGA/LCD) and audio hardware in these SoCs. The NAND flash memory that is built into some sunXi-based systems is not supported.
Using a local display is technically possible without native display drivers via the “simplefb” infrastructure in the mainline kernel, which relies on the “u-boot” bootloader for initializing the display hardware, but this is not supported by the u-boot version in Debian 8.
The Cubox-i series is a set of small, cubical-shaped systems based on the Freescale i.MX6 SoC family. System support for the Cubox-i series is limited to drivers and device-tree information available in the mainline Linux kernel; the Freescale 3.0 kernel series for the Cubox-i is not supported by Debian. Available drivers in the mainline kernel include serial console, ethernet, USB, MMC/SD-card and display support over HDMI (console and X11). In addition to that, the eSATA port on the Cubox-i4Pro is supported.
The Wandboard Quad is a development board based on the Freescale i.MX6 Quad SoC. System support for it is limited to drivers and device-tree information available in the mainline Linux kernel; the wandboard-specific 3.0 and 3.10 kernel series from wandboard.org are not supported by Debian. The mainline kernel includes driver support for serial console, display via HDMI (console and X11), ethernet, USB, MMC/SD and SATA. Support for the onboard audio options (analog, S/PDIF, HDMI-Audio) and for the onboard WLAN/Bluetooth module is not available in Debian 8.
Generally, the ARM multiplatform support in the Linux kernel allows
debian-installer on armhf systems not explicitly listed above, as long as
the kernel used by
debian-installer has support for the target system's components
and a device-tree file for the target is available. In these cases, the
installer can usually provide a working userland installation, but it
probably cannot automatically make the system bootable, as doing that in
many cases requires device-specific information.
debian-installer on such systems, you have to manually make the system
bootable at the end of the installation, e.g. by running the required
commands in a shell started from within
The EfikaMX platform (Genesi Efika Smartbook and Genesi EfikaMX nettop) has been supported in Debian 7 with a platform-specific kernel, but is not supported anymore from Debian 8 onwards. The code required to build the formerly used platform-specific kernel has been removed from the upstream Linux kernel source in 2012, so Debian cannot provide newer builds.
Using the armmp multiplatform kernel on the EfikaMX platform would require device-tree support for it, which is currently not available.
Details on supported graphics cards and pointing devices can be found at http://xorg.freedesktop.org/. Debian 8 ships with X.Org version 7.7.
Almost any network interface card (NIC) supported by the Linux kernel should also be supported by the installation system; drivers should normally be loaded automatically.
On ARM, most built-in Ethernet devices are supported and modules for additional PCI and USB devices are provided.