This article is from the Frequently Asked Questions for Linux, the Free/Open Source UNIX-like operating system kernel that runs on many modern computer systems. Maintained by David C. Merrill with numerous contributions by others. (v1.0).
A: A minimal Linux installation requires a machine for which a port exists, at least 2Mb of RAM, and a single floppy drive, but to do anything even remotely useful, more RAM and disk space are needed. Refer to: Ports to Other Processors, What are the Disk Space Requirements for Minimal, Server, and Workstation Use?, and What are the Minimum and Maximum Memory Requirements?.
Intel CPU, PC-compatible machines require at least an 80386 processor to run the standard Linux kernel.
Linux, including the X Window System GUI, runs on most current laptops. Refer to the answer for: How Do I Find Out If a Notebook Runs Linux?. There are numerous sources of information about specific PC's, video cards, disk controllers, and other hardware. Refer to the INFO-SHEET, Laptop-HOWTO, and the Unix-Hardware-Buyer-HOWTO. See Where Is the Documentation?.