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For a given hardware configuration, how do I find out if Ubuntu will run on it? What considerations should I take into account when choosing an Ubuntu version and flavour such as:

  • Xubuntu with a lighter desktop than the usual Gnome and Unity
  • Lubuntu with the even lighter LXDE desktop

Obviously Ubuntu does not run on some processor architectures. So how do I go about choosing the right version and derivate. How can I find out the minmal system requirements?

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This question is meant to be as a collection of most of the various old system requirement questions that pop up every once in a while. Such as: askubuntu.com/questions/206364/… askubuntu.com/questions/125280/… askubuntu.com/questions/11771/… askubuntu.com/questions/11771/… . So future questions of this type can be closed as exact duplicates. –  con-f-use Oct 25 '12 at 19:46
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I don't think this line is correctly laid out [Obviously Ubuntu does not run on some processor architectures.]. Ubuntu runs on x86 processors, x86-64 processors, PowerPC processors and ARM (ARMv7 and up) SoC. –  Uri Herrera Oct 25 '12 at 19:59
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5 Answers

Lubuntu (Ubuntu with the LXDE desktop environment) or Xubuntu (Ubuntu with the Xfce desktop environment). Xubuntu is more "user friendly" -- more graphical tools for settings, better looking and better integrated applications and maybe better support (larger community). On the other hand, Lubuntu needs less RAM (Lubuntu about 128 MB, Xubuntu about 512 MB). It depends on your skills and preferences, you can try both and then choose.

To sum it up: Xubuntu is light, Lubuntu is lighter.

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to take into account: the default file manager pcmanfm do not support the trash-bin (or at least last time a tried lxde, some versions ago of ubuntu). –  enzotib Jun 23 '11 at 14:19
    
+1 I would add that if you can handle not running a full desktop then I suggest using the fluxbox window manager. I don't have the exact numbers but it frees up even more precious RAM. –  KennyPeanuts Jun 23 '11 at 15:52
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up vote 21 down vote accepted

Preliminary notes


First of all it makes no sense to install versions of Ubuntu that are no longer supported with updates. That is for the reasons at the bottom of this answer.

This answer will concentrate on currently supported versions of Ubuntu and its official derivatives.

If your hardware never connects to the internet and if you will never use software newer than is included on the respective install media, only then it might be prudent to use outdated versions.

You don't have to install Ubuntu to see if it works on your hardware. It is always a good idea to boot from live DVD/USB and see if the system runs okay on the given hardware.

Even if it seems not to work, you might be just one boot option away from a working system. See My computer boots to a black screen, what options do I have to fix it? For example the nomodset option might help.


Currently supported versions and their minimal requirements

The community wiki usually offers an up-to-date list of currently supported versions. Minimal system requirements for Ubuntu can be found there in the tech specs. Information on the derivatives is scarce but their requirements are less than what is listed here. Generally 32-bit versions take up less memory and tend to be faster on older systems, than their 64-bit counterparts. The Lists of Ubuntu certified hardware might also be of use to you.

Supported versions of Ubuntu

  • 10.04 Server (Lucid Lynx)

    The minimum memory requirement for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is 256 MB of memory.

    via Ubuntu Wiki

  • 12.04 Server and Desktop LTS (Precise Pangolin)

    700 MHz processor (Intel Celeron or better) - 300 Mhz for Server

    384 MB - 128 for Server. Note that some of your system's memory may be unavailable due to being used by the graphics card.

    5 GB of hard drive space (1 GB for Server)

    VGA capable of 1024x768 screen resolution for Desktop version

  • 12.10 Server and Desktop (Quantal Quetzal)

    768 MB of memory and 5 GB of disk space for Ubuntu Desktop [...]. I If your computer has only the minimum amount of memory, the installation process will take longer than normal or even appear frozen for some time.

Supported versions of Lubuntu

  • 12.04 ( Precise Pangolin)

    A Pentium II or Celeron system with 128 MB of RAM is probably a bottom line configuration that may yield a slow yet usable system with a standard Lubuntu desktop.

    Default i686 (32-bit) images support more hardware than the equivalent Ubuntu image, as it uses a non-PAE kernel, but is limited to 4 GB of memory. If you have more than 4 GB of memory on a 32-bit system, head over to Get Lubuntu for a fuller discussion.

  • 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal)

    A Pentium II or Celeron system with 128 MB of RAM is probably a bottom line configuration that may yield slow yet usable system with a standard Lubuntu desktop.

    12.10 32 bit ISO require your CPU to have Physical Address Extensions, or PAE. "PAE is provided by Intel Pentium Pro and above CPUs, including all later Pentium-series processors (except most 400 MHz-bus versions of the Pentium M)."

    For PowerPC, it is known to run on a G4 running at 867MHz with 640MB RAM. For Intel based Macs, Lubuntu should run on all models. via Ubuntu Wiki

  • 13.10 (Saucy Salamander)

    A Pentium II or Celeron system with 128 MB of RAM is probably a bottom-line configuration that may yield slow yet usable system with a reduced Lubuntu desktop. 13.10 32-bit ISO require your CPU to have Physical Address Extensions, or PAE. "PAE is provided by Intel Pentium Pro and above CPUs, including all later Pentium-series processors (except most 400 MHz-bus versions of the Pentium M)." - If you have a NON-PAE CPU you can use 12.04 instead. For PowerPC, it is known to run on a G4 running at 867MHz with 640MB RAM. For Intel based Macs, Lubuntu should run on all models.

    via Ubuntu Wiki

Supported versions of Xubuntu

See Xubuntu help page.

  • 12.04, possibly later releases

    Minimum system requirements for Xubuntu fall roughly between Ubuntu Server and Desktop:

    • 512 MB of system memory (RAM)
    • 5 GB of disk space
    • Graphics card and monitor capable of 800x600 resolution

      via Ubuntu Wiki
  • 13.10

    To install or try Xubuntu within the Desktop/Live CD, you need 256 MB of memory. Installing with the Alternate CD (for 12.04 only) requires 64 MB. Once installed, it is strongly recommended to have at least 512 MB of memory.

    When you install Xubuntu from the Desktop CD, you need 4.4 GB of free space on your hard disk. The Alternate CD (for 12.04 only) requires you to have 2 GB of free space on your hard disk.

    From Xubuntu download page


Why you shouldn't use versions when their support has ended

  • Security risks: Eventually there will be an exploit that compromises security or system integrity of old Ubuntu versions
  • Software incompatibilities: Versions that are no longer supported will have increasing problems with this. Due to the lack of updates one will no longer be able to open the most recent LibreOffice documents or compile programs that need more recent libraries. Hardware drivers of recent devices will not be included in older kernels.
  • Decreasing availability of repositories: It might become very difficult to download software that does not already ship with the outdated version. Hosting repositories for very old versions cease to be economically viable at one point.
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What are the minimum requirements for Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop and Server? –  Alaa Aug 14 '13 at 22:40
    
Lubuntu 12.04 and 12.10 aren't supported anymore. There is no LTS release. –  searchfgold6789 Sep 16 '13 at 19:10
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How about an update for 13.10? :) –  simon Nov 12 '13 at 2:37
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Are you going to update this for 13.10? –  Seth Jan 6 at 0:56
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@Seth - done I think :D –  Wilf Feb 28 at 21:27
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Xubuntu

Xubuntu is designed to run on light weight machines. I recently installed it on a machine with 768MB of RAM and other specs close to your machine and it runs without an issue.

Xubuntu Desktop

Xubuntu is simply Ubuntu bundled with the XFCE Desktop Environment - a DE designed to be fast and light weight on lower end systems without compromising performance and visual style. Xubuntu is also officially recognized and supported by Canonical whereas other light weight Ubuntu Flavors (like Lubuntu) are not.

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I can disagree on the system requirements for the Linux distros.

On a:

  • Intel Pentium 4 1.8Ghz
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 64MB graphics card capable of 1024x768

The only Ubuntu flavour which worked good was Lubuntu.

On a:

  • AMD Athlon dual-core 3.20Ghz(OC'ed from 2.80Ghz),
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • AMD HD 3000 IGP with Catalyst installed.

Ubuntu is really slow (I can work properly with Unity 2D), Gnome Shell is also slow (plus for me Gnome Shell is awful in multitasking). KDE worked quite nice and I'm really impressed by it.

About which flavour to choose I can say this:

  • What do you want, better Looks or better Performance?
  • XFCE(Xubuntu) looks nicer and its environment has more functionality, you can personalize it and change it in any way you want it (at the cost of high memory use but still you need a good graphic card).
  • LXDE(Lubuntu) is faster overall but it lacks the looks.

I suggest to try Xubuntu and if it feels slower go for Lubuntu.

You can try Live-CDs to see how they look but you can test performance only after you installed them.

Have to say that even tough Linux system requirements are really low the desktop environment graphic requirements are high in my opinion.

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You can customize LXDE just as you can customize XFCE, no difference. Of course if you are strictly speaking of the stock software then yes, XFCE is more customizable. –  Uri Herrera Oct 26 '12 at 8:06
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Well your PC isn't that much hopeless. I would suggest you to try installing normal Ubuntu AND Unity 2D desktop environment.

Of course, if you don't like Unity, this won't be a good solution. However, if you will try that, you will get full Ubuntu support.

I've tried Lubuntu before (installed it via Software manager). It's very basic DE and had some problems. It might be good, but I still suggest you to give Unity 2D a try.

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protected by jokerdino Dec 2 '13 at 18:19

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