Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm installing Debian etch. The installer asks me which kernels I want, and the reasonable options for my old box seem to be

  • 2.6-486
  • 2.6.18-486

(There are -686 versions, too, but those seem to be for Pentium II and up, and if the internets don't lie, -486 is for Pentium I and earlier.)

Which one should work better on my box, depending on what? Sorry if my question sounds dumb, but I think there is no such thing as a plain 2.6-486 version, I think all should have a third part of the version number (i.e. 2.6.something-486) and the 2.6.nothing-486 doesn't make sense to me.

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

2.6-486 is a meta package that points to the most recent version of the 2.6 kernel package compiled for that processor.

And no, 486 does not include Pentium I as the 80486 was the processor line before Pentiums. Pentium I would be 586. 686 is either Pentium II or III... I can't remember where the change happened anymore. However, there doesn't seem to be a 2.6-586, so the 486 package is used for old Pentiums as they're backward compatible.

share|improve this answer
Thanks! So choosing 2.6-486 will be safe (your links says it depends on 2.6.32-5-468), and 2.6.18-486 was just the most up-to-date kernel at the time my netinst CD image was created? – zebonaut Jun 12 '11 at 22:01

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.