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My buddy has been using hand me down computers for years and is due for a upgrade. He currently has a pre-lga775 pentium 4 @ 2.8GHz and I have a Core2Duo E6400 @ 2.13Ghz with an ASUS P5LP-LE mobo. I would like to just spend the $30 on RAM and be able to just swap it out in his current computer. What, if anything, would I have to do to Ubuntu to play with the new hardware? He is currently running Xubuntu 12.04.


Core 2 Duo E6400

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I do this all the time. Since Ubuntu is based on Linux, which means it is hardware independent (A whole different story if we talk about Windows) you won't have a problem in most cases. So since it is hardware independent you can just change your motherboard, cpu, ram, video card, lan card, wifi card and any other hardware without any problem.

The problems that will appear are (I will list some of them since you will get an idea with the couple I will write about):

  • Hardware that needs Proprietary drivers - If you happen to move from a integrated video card in your motherboard (Let's say an Intel video card), to another computer with an Nvidia or Ati card, you will most likely need to install the proprietary drivers to have full features for that particular video card. Is not the same performance to compare the open sourced Nouveau with the Proprietary Nvidia drivers. Both of which are found and available to install when Ubuntu starts. This will likely not interfere with Ubuntu but will make it tough if you want to play son HD video or play a Windows game on Wine. Same goes for Wireless cards like the Broadcom Based ones.

  • Moving from 64 Bit to 32 bit (Backwards Architecture). If you have a 64 bit capable hardware with an Ubuntu 64 installed on it and you move to a hardware that has no 64 Bit support, you will receive some errors. The opposite is not true on newer systems and Ubuntu versions but it is recommended to stick with the same architecture for performance and stability issues.

In the cases you are mentioning, you won't have any problems whatsoever. To test this, simply remove your hard drive and connect it to the other PC. Then boot from your hard drive. You will notice that it will boot like it was running on that computer since the beginning.

Aside from this, if you are going to use more than 4GB RAM, I recommend going for a 64 bit version, although the 32 bit will still use the additional memory with its PAE kernel.

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One thing of note is that your known names of network cards may change from eth0 to eth1, in that case remove the file /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules and execute sudo udevadm trigger --action=change after a reboot. – aquaherd Feb 4 '13 at 9:12
Thanks aquaherd and Luis! – charels88 Feb 14 '13 at 1:09

From my experience it shouldn't be a problem, though I cannot really guarantee that it will work. I've only tried it once. :P Ruining your operating system with a hardware upgrade is a Windows thing as far as I heard.

But of course, making proper backups of your important information before attempting the upgrade is always a good idea.

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You shouldn't have to do anything, other then deactivating/removing any proprietary graphics drivers, in case the graphics card on the new board is going to change.

That said, you'd probably want to swich to the 64bit version of Xubuntu, especially if the amount of RAM is going to be 4GB or more, though the 32bit version should also work.

Linux distros do not have any problems with hardware changes, as long as the new hardware is supported.

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Thanks Mike, Xubuntu is currently 32-bit since I wouldn't be able to install 64-bit on architecture that old. I was planning on only getting 2GB as he doesn't do much with the computer. – charels88 Feb 2 '13 at 21:45
With 2GB, and not doing much with the computer, your friend will be just fine with the 32bit Xubuntu. – mikewhatever Feb 2 '13 at 22:21

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