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Installing Linux on most Intel-based computers is pretty straightforward. In many cases, most installation proceeds without problems. Generally, if you are installing Linux on one modern computer, it should be okay to just install Linux without worrying too much about your hardware.
However, if you have problems, you'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by knowing exactly what hardware you have. Before you start installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it's helpful to be familiar with the following components of your system:
Drives Check to see if you are using SCSI or IDE drives. You should know the manufacturer, model number, and capacity of the drive. In addition, if it's a SCSI drive, make sure you know its SCSI ID number. (As of this writing, if you're installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux on a VMWare machine, emulated SCSI drives don't work; you'll have to configure an emulated IDE hard drive.)
Hard drive controller Know the manufacturer and model number of the drive controller. If this data is hard to find, at least try to find the chipset of the controller. If it's an IDE controller, the documentation is associated with the computer motherboard. If it's a SCSI controller, see the documentation associated with that controller.
CD-ROM For most standard SCSI or IDE CD-ROMs, the standard drivers should work without problems. However, if you are using a CD-ROM with a proprietary interface, you should know the manufacturer, as well as the model of the drive and controller card.
Mouse You should know the type of mouse that you have-such as PS/2, serial, or USB. If your mouse uses a serial port, it helps if you know which port. For example, if you're converting a computer that's running Microsoft Windows, a serial mouse is associated with a serial port, typically COM1, COM2, COM3, or COM4. The corresponding Linux device files are /dev/ttyS0, /dev/ttyS1, /dev/ttyS2, and /dev/ttyS3. And the number of buttons on a mouse may not be obvious; if you have a two-button mouse with a scrolling wheel that you can click, you actually have a three-button mouse.
Graphics card If you will be running the Linux graphical user interface (GUI), also known as X or X11, you will need the manufacturer, the model number, the chipset, and the amount of video memory. If it's a fairly common graphics card and you can't find the chipset or memory, you should be able to select a generic or older version of the card from the X installation database.
Sound, video, and game adapters If you want to set up sound on your system, you should know the manufacturer and model number of the sound card. If plug and play doesn't work for your sound card, you'll also need the default IRQ port, I/O address, and DMA channel(s). Especially on laptops, this information may be stored in your BIOS.
Network adapters If you are going to network your Linux system, you should know the manufacturer and model number of the network adapter. If plug and play doesn't work for your network adapter, you should find its default IRQ port and I/O address.
Monitor If you will be running the Linux GUI, based on the Linux implementation of the X Window System (www.xfree86.org), you will need the manufacturer, model number, available resolutions, and refresh frequencies of the monitor.
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Be especially careful with older monitors or laptop displays. Exceeding the frequency refresh capabilities of such monitors could easily overload the display system. Replacing a laptop display is not a pleasant exercise!
Not all hardware will work with Linux. After you've collected information about your system, you should consult the Red Hat Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) or LDP Hardware HOWTO to determine if your components are compatible with the current version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
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