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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 5

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
up vote 26 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

  • 12.04 and 14.04 Desktop

    Ubuntu Desktop 11.04 and up uses Unity as the default GUI while the previous releases used GNOME Panel by default. In order to run Unity the system needs a more capable graphics adapter.

    • 1000 ΜHz processor (about Intel Celeron or better)

    • 1024 MiB RAM (system memory)

    • 3D Acceleration capable video card with at least 256 MB onboard memory

    • 5 GB of disk space

    From experience, we all know that it is recommended to have 2048 MiB RAM to properly run a day-to-day Ubuntu.

    A good start should be with minimum 1024 and recommended 2048 MiB RAM.1

    1Source: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/SystemRequirements

    Security and maintenance updates will be provided for Ubuntu 12.04 until April, 2017 and for Ubuntu 14.04 until April, 2019.

  • 14.04 Server Installation Standard

    • 1 GHz processor
    • 512 MB of system memory (RAM)
    • 1 GB of disk space (base system)
    • Graphics card and monitor capable of 640x480
  • 14.04 Server Installation Minimal

    • 300 MHz processor
    • 256 MB of system memory (RAM) 64-bit, 192 MB RAM 32-bit
    • 1 GB of disk space (base system)
    • Graphics card and monitor capable of 640x480

    Security and maintenance updates will be provided for this release until April, 2019.

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 Xubuntu 12.04 Release Notes
  • 14.04

    To install or try Xubuntu within the Desktop/Live CD, you need 512 MB of memory and 5 GB of free space on your hard disk. Security and maintenance updates will be provided for this release for 3 Years until April, 2017.

Supported versions of Lubuntu

  • 14.04 ( Trusty Tahr )

    A Pentium II or Celeron system with 128 MB of RAM and 5 GB of disk space for Lubuntu Desktop. Security and maintenance updates will be provided for this release for 3 Years until April, 2017.


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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Are you going to update this for 13.10? –  Seth Jan 6 at 0:56
    
@Wilf yep, but you could combine 13.04 and 13.10 since they have the same specs. –  Seth Feb 28 at 21:18
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@Seth - done I think :D –  Wilf Feb 28 at 21:27

Xubuntu

Xubuntu is designed to run on lightweight 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 lightweight on lower end systems without compromising performance and visual style. Xubuntu 14.04 is a Long Term Support releases for which security and maintenance updates will be provided for 3 years until April, 2017.

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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

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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