As with most of the software applications, it is equally important to assess the compatibility of your hardware with the Linux distribution you wish to install. Indeed, one of the most important factors in deciding the Linux distribution for the installation is the hardware compatibility. Before you plan to install Linux, you should be well aware if the distribution is made to run on the hardware you have. This is also an important factor because of the several different distributions of Linux unlike Microsoft Windows and Mac operating systems. Because of a huge variety of Linux distributions, it’s often difficult to say how reliably each particular distribution has been tested before coming to the real use.
There are some Linux distributions that are specific to a particular hardware, e.g. LinuxPPC cannot run on the widely available x86 based computers and can only run on the older Apple based computers. Similarly, various kinds of Sun hardware (a SPARC processor or a modern UltraSparc) need different versions of Linux for their optimal usage.
Also, there are certain Linux distributions that are apparently known to be optimized for few processors, e.g. AMD Athlon processors. Such Linux distributions can of course run on the other CPU’s such as 486, 586 or Intel Pentium processors, but they will deliver the best performance if ran on an AMD Athlon CPU. However, it is sometimes the case that these special Linux distributions may not be so reliable only because they are tested by a smaller number of people.
Many of the Linux distributions have a collection of software for generally available computers. Most commonly available kernels are for the x86 family of Intel processors. These distributions have large community efforts invested in their testing and development, which is why they are known to be quite reliable and widely accepted for the enterprise usages too. The most popular kinds of Linux distributions today are, Debian, Core Fedora, UBuntu, SuSE, Red Hat Linux, Madriva to name a few. You should select a Linux distribution considering the hardware, compatibility of frequently used software and your comfort level using Linux.