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I have just installed the standard default desktop configuration of Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal). My PC only has 1GB of RAM and is struggling a little. What steps can I take to reduce the memory overhead of the standard install? If it makes a difference, I use Firefox, and a terminal most of the time.

Simply running those two applications I see:

free -m
            total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached

Mem:           938        873         64          0          5      167
-/+ buffers/cache:        701        237
Swap:          959        158        801
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Do a ps -e to see how many processes are running. Although with that amount of memory I recommend xubuntu. Normally I recommend at least 2GB for Ubuntu to run with a couple of other apps with no problems. With 1GB I would recommend more xubuntu for it. If you still want to run Ubuntu it can be lowered to at least 500MB in some cases. –  Luis Alvarado Dec 2 '12 at 22:32
1  
The first thing that I can tell you is, no more Firefox. This web browser have a big memory consume. Instead of this one, you can use Chromium (of the popular ones) or Midori. In the Software-Center you can find a couples of browsers with little consume. –  Lucio Dec 2 '12 at 22:56
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Am more with Lucio. Using another browser like Midori will help a lot. Using it with Xubuntu will help even more. –  Luis Alvarado Dec 2 '12 at 23:44

2 Answers 2

You can easily install and try out different desktop environments (instead of the default, Unity). Once installed, you can switch between different desktop environments at the log-in screen (there is an icon near your name, which, when clicked, allows you to select).enter image description here

Probably in your case, with 1GB ram, I would suggest the lubuntu desktop (based on LXDE). To install, open a terminal and type

sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

If you don't want the whole environment, you can install LXDE by itself

sudo apt-get install lxde

Most everything will be the same but you'll have a new look that is less memory intensive (see many screenshots HERE). Firefox will be there, and the terminal will look a little different.

If you don't like the LXDE look, you can read about other desktop environments HERE. Options include Xfce (Xubuntu) and KDE (Kubuntu).

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Thanks. I have switched to lubuntu now. –  Flintoff Dec 3 '12 at 7:24
    
@Flintoff, To put my 2 cents in I found that e17 (from enlightenment.org) is the most resource friendly desktop environment, You can try the Bodhi Linux ubuntu distro that uses e17. I thing the project is great, the speed and customization of e17 is great. But the looks and feels is different, you need to get use to it, I like it but I cannot use it daily, and still prefer Unity. –  Radu Maris Apr 26 '13 at 8:09

The web Browser

Firefox

Firefox is the default web browser of Ubuntu. It is a great browser but is not recommended for computers with minimal resources, since this has a large memory consumption. See Firefox working in my system:

firefox_mem_usage

Epiphany

I recommend to you the Epiphany Browser (now simply called as Web). You will be surprised at how well it works, it fulfills the promise to be lightly. The size of the download is only of 2Mb! As the Epiphany's homepage say: it is Simple, beautiful, and easy to use.

screenshoot

Others

In the Software Center you will find great Web Browsers that are lightly, faster, and smaller.

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