Choose the right graphics card and CPU for Linux

Q Finally, after years of saving, I'm going to get a new desktop or laptop computer. The only problem is that I want it to be able to run Linux so I have to get a lot of facts right before taking the jump. Using an old desktop with Debian for the past two years, I didn't previously notice that the following are 'problems' at all.

Processor - Should I download the 32- or 64- bit version? AMD64 is quite clear, but is Intel Core 2 Duo 64-bit? I understand from the web that some users are using the 32-bit versions of Linux with them. I'm confused!

Graphics - Nvidia or Intel, and which model? Most HP computers that I looked at use the Nvidia Go 6100, Nvidia Go 6150 and Intel X3100 chipsets. Are these graphics supported in Linux?

Assuming that I've got a new computer running Debian (KDE) and an old computer running Debian (Fluxbox), how do I check for the other computer that's connected to the same network? How do I share files between these two computers since they're logged in as different users?

A The more choices you have, the more difficult the decision! Many laptops now have 64-bit processors - the Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs are 64-bit while the Core Duos are 32- bit. It looks like you'll be using this machine for a while, so I'd certainly recommend a 64-bit system. It is true that some people run a 32-bit OS on 64-bit hardware. The main reason is that they want to use closed-source software that's not available in 64-bit - but most 32-bit software will run on a 64-bit system anyway. Even 32-bit browser plugins can be made to run in a 64-bit browser with nspluginwrapper (, so I'd advise you to use a 64-bit distro on 64-bit hardware unless you have a compelling reason to do otherwise.

Both the Nvidia and Intel graphics chipsets work well. Nvidia gives better 3D performance but requires proprietary drivers. The Intel chipset gives 3D with the XOrg drivers. The Intel wireless chips 'just work' with Linux in my experience too. With other chipsets, check carefully first: wireless hardware compatibility is one of the main problem areas with laptops nowadays. With a desktop, these aren't major issues because just about everything is interchangeable. Laptops are less flexible and it's worth checking for compatibility. If both computers are connected to the internet via the same router, the router's admin page may show the connected computers, particularly if it's acting as a DHCP server. Transferring files between the computers can be done by mounting shared drives with NFS or Samba, or by using scp to copy. As you're using KDE, the easiest way is to type:

fish://username:password@ipaddress/path/to directory

into a Konqueror window's location bar to view the contents of that directory and be able to drop files to copy them. You only need SSH running on the other computer for this to work.

Follow us on or Twitter

Username:   Password: