I managed to dig out my old XP machine and want to install Ubuntu on it. Anyway, what I'm wondering is whether I should choose the 32-bit or the 64-bit.

On the download page there stands that if you have UEFI firmware you should choose the 64-bit, but I don't know what that is so?

  • UEFI is the next generation version of BIOS. – papukaija Jul 6 '13 at 19:46

UEFI is something new, it kind of replaces the BIOS. It's used on new Computers that come most times with Windows 8. You don't have to worry about that.

32-bit will work in every case. If you can, you should use a 64-bit installation. It's faster and supports more (random access) memory. You can use up to between 3 to 4 GB of RAM with a 32-bit machine.

If it's an old computer it may support only 32-bit. Newer ones support mostly 64-bit (and 32-bit too). If you try to install a 64-bit Ubuntu on a 32-bit machine, it won't work, so you can just try if you want. If it does not work, try 32-bit Ubuntu. Your computer should tell you if you try to install 64-bit Ubuntu on a 32-bit computer.

Alternatively just look whether your windows XP installation is 32-bit or 64-bit. It should be visible somewhere in the "Workspace > Right-Click > Properties" (Names may be different since I did never use Windows in english.)

If you feel Ubuntu is too slow on your computer, or even the 32-bit version does not work correctly, please understand that Ubuntu is a modern system that is supposed to run on not too old computers. In this case, consider using these Ubuntu derivatives:



These are supposed to run smoothly on older computers and offer a different desktop experience (with better performance).

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  • +1 Look no further than Lubuntu for a PC with Windows XP. Normal Ubuntu runs DAMN SLOW on those. – stommestack Jul 6 '13 at 20:19
  • Well, the operating system does not necessarily say something about the hardware power. So I think he should try and see what he wants. Especially if he/she is interested in unity. – verpfeilt Jul 6 '13 at 21:27

If it's 3 years or older you have a good shot at it being 32 bit. I wouldn't focus on the UEFI statement too much. The question still remains if you have 64bit or 32bit CPU. If you don't see any stickers on the outside of your laptop stating 64bit or x64 and the original Operating System pre-installed on it was Windows XP, I'm willing to be it's 32 bit.

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Unless you have more than 3GB of RAM memory on your computer you should choose the 32-bit version of Ubuntu to install. It's very uncommon for an old PC like yours to have UEFI firmware instead of the usual BIOS.

You'll get better performance on your old hardware if you select one of the lightweight versions of Ubuntu, either Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

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  • 4
    +1 I would add that if the computer is really ancient, or just has very low end hardware, the standard Ubuntu 13.04 with the Unity DE may be sluggish and the OP may be better off with Lubuntu or Xubuntu both are official derivatives so they are supported on this site. – TrailRider Jul 6 '13 at 18:21

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