Motherboards & the Processor

Inside every computer, there is one piece of hardware that controls the actions of nearly every single other piece of hardware that is part of the computer. This piece of hardware is called the motherboard, and if it fails to operate correctly, the computer has value only as a doorstop.

Personal computers that are commonly marketed in the United States tend to have fairly standardized motherboards, and it is unlikely that any computer purchased from a computer market will be incompatible with Linux. However, if the computer that is to become the Linux box was custom built by a small computer shop, rather than a chain, it is possible it will have a non-standard motherboard. In this case, it is a good idea to check the RedHat documentation site, to make certain that the motherboard is supported on Linux.

The motherboard is the host to the processor chip. The processor chip is analogous to the brain of the computer; it performs calculations as fast as possible, and the rest of the computer is built around the processor. Many consumers became aware of the value of their processor chips when Intel's Pentium chip failed to perform mathematical functions correctly several years ago. The problem has since been rectified, but now that Intel no longer has a monopoly on the processor market, with the advent of Cyrix and other processors, it is necessary to make certain that RedHat supports the processor of the computer Linux is to run.

Any chip built by Intel before the Pentium chip was developed will be supported by RedHat Linux. This means that all of the old 386 and 486 processors will run Linux correctly, if a little more slowly than a Pentium or Pentium II. For computers that are intended to be smaller web servers or personal Internet nodes without large amounts of traffic, there is no need for an exceptionally speedy processor. The newer the processor is, the more likely it becomes that RedHat does not support it. Before the installation is begun, check to make certain that the processor in the machine is on the list of supported hardware.

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Created: May 6, 1999
Last updated: May 12, 1999