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I am a non-techie person, so I will ask my question in plain English: I have a ThinkPad T510 with a SATA II, 3 GB interface. I am thinking about a new drive and installing a 12.04 ISO in April. The SSD I am thinking about is an Intel 320 Series 160 GB.

Can anyone tell me if this will work "out-of-the-box" or are there umpteen different code/terminal related things I will have to do? Am I better off staying with a HDD?

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Why would you get any flack when you asked a perfectly valid, well written and detailed question? If BTRFS becomes the default filesystem in Ubuntu 12.04 then you won't have to do anything at all because that supports the TRIM that Lekensteyn mentioned out of the box. –  devius Feb 11 '12 at 17:35
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I'm using an Intel 320 SSD (80GB) and have no issues with it in Oneiric 11.10. I don't expect issues in Precise 12.04 either. The installer does a good job at aligning the partitions if needed but you need to enable trim after installation manually.

SSDs are generally well-supported, see also Is SSD really supported by Ubuntu?

For HDD vs SSD, see What about the performance enhancement when using an SSD as the main disk?

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