A Linux® chipset is a piece of computer hardware designed to work on a Linux® system. Generally, hardware is not made for Linux® only, but manufacturers sometimes include Linux® drivers and other features that make some hardware better for use on Linux® than others. Using hardware that is not designed for Linux® on a Linux®-based machine can present some problems, including hardware that is prone to errors or drivers that do not work. Independent software designers often create Linux® drivers for hardware that is not automatically Linux® compatible.
UNIX® is a trademarked set of standards for related products that must meet several requirements to carry the label as a UNIX® product. The Linux® operating system is a type of open-source version of UNIX®. Types of Linux® include Red Hat®, Debian®, and Ubuntu®.
Open-source is a means of handling software production so that software users have access to the code in the software and can work together with other users to create altered and improved versions of the software. The open-source Linux® operating systems can be installed on many types of hardware, but are best suited for those based on a Linux® chipset. Though they are free to download, Linux® operating systems are generally more popular with advanced computer users because they are often more difficult to set up and use than commercial operating systems.
A chipset is a name for the circuitry in a piece of computer hardware. This type of hardware part is called a chipset because it is usually made of more than one chip. Some hardware devices, such as graphics cards, sound cards and wireless cards, are occasionally called chipsets to refer to the whole device, usually internal hardware like sound chipsets, wireless chipsets, and graphics chipsets. Users designing and building a Linux® computer need to research whether a piece of hardware uses a chipset that is friendly to the Linux® operating system.
Usually the largest chipset in a standard home computer, the motherboard is the main processing chipset in a computer, the one that houses the computer processing unit (CPU) often referred to as the processor. Generally, when a computer user refers to the compatibility of her Linux® chipset, she is talking about the motherboard. A motherboard chipset is sometimes referred to as the CPU chipset or the mainboard Linux® chipset. Finding Linux® drivers that can run motherboards compatible with a Linux® chipset becomes complicated when the motherboards use an integrated chipset, which includes the graphics chipset and the audio chipset in the same chipset as the motherboard chip.