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I'm thinking about installing Ubuntu Desktop, but I don't know what flavor is the best for my system. What are the minimum and recommended hardware requirements? What kind of CPU? How much memory? Should I have Hardware Acceleration? What flavor should I use?

This is an attempt of a canonical answer. My answers have the "official requirements", the recommended are a mix of official sources and opinion based (along with the answer it's told the source). You can comment or edit if you feel that the information is obsolete or incomplete.

It is a good rule of thumb that any system capable of running Windows Vista, 7, 8, x86 (Intel) OS X will almost always be a lot faster with any Ubuntu flavor even if they are lower-spec than described below.

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8 Answers 8

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Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu returned to using the GNOME Shell with Ubuntu 17.10, so it's the only non-ESM desktop supported.

Recommended Minimums

  • Bionic Beaver (18.04) and later
    • at least 2 GHz 64-bit processor
    • at least 4 GB of system memory
    • at least 25 GB of free disk space Minimum 8.6 GB
    • other requirements may follow the "Recommended" section
    • VGA capable of 1024 x 768 screen resolution
    • 3D Acceleration capable GPU with at least 256 MB

Ubuntu has varying requirements on VM.

Bionic Beaver (18.04) on VM: Requires VT-x/AMD-V hardware acceleration. Requires at least 1156 MB RAM and 128 MB video memory, but disable 3D acceleration for at least usable desktop to open menu and change settings. This is the practical minimum for a test drive, but not for daily use.

Recommended

For latest recommended requirements, visit download page of Ubuntu Desktop.

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  • 30
    It is my personal experience that 1Gb RAM is too small for a smooth experience with Ubuntu. Therefore, I recommend using Lubuntu for under 2Gb, and Ubuntu for 2Gb or more. If you have under 512Mb RAM, consider even smaller distros such as Bodhi, which is Ubuntu-based, but not an official Canonical distribution. Aug 21, 2013 at 13:20
  • 2
    I would say, It depends on what you do. Xubuntu runs fine on 500 MiBi RAM, but you cannot run Firefox on it.
    – user877329
    May 13, 2016 at 14:26
  • Please note - if you check the minimum requirements for Ubuntu Desktop; the minimum recommended disk space allocation has been 25GB since Ubuntu 17.10 Desktop (see help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/SystemRequirements) Yes many users can live on less, but you need to be careful with what apps you keep, very regularly update & clean up (ie. maintenance is higher with less disk space) & re-install instead of release-upgrade as that needs free disk space... thus the official 25GB recommendation since 17.10 (added by head of Canonical's Ubuntu Desktop team if you look!)
    – guiverc
    Jun 4, 2021 at 13:12
  • @guiverc again, update the answer so it's up to date. See the revision history for how it's done askubuntu.com/posts/333796/revisions Don't use comments to post update information, but edit the post.
    – Braiam
    Jun 4, 2021 at 13:35
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Xubuntu

enter image description here

Recommended for Xubuntu 20.04 or later:

  • 2+ GiB of system memory (RAM) Minimum 512MB
  • 20+ GB of disk space Minimum 8GB
  • Graphics card and monitor capable of 1024x768 resolution
  • 1.5 Ghz dual Core processor
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  • 2
    Are you sure that this is correct? I'd guess that Xubuntu requires less resources than ubuntu? Maybe these are recommended values?
    – jb.
    Aug 17, 2013 at 18:39
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    That's what is said in the official wiki page that I linked, it also reports that 512 MB and 500MHz processor is too slow for xubuntu.
    – Braiam
    Aug 17, 2013 at 18:43
  • the xubuntu home page says 64mb. I run xububtu on my netbook with 512 mb ram and there are no speed issues at all
    – exussum
    Aug 18, 2013 at 8:13
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    @user1281385 that's the alternative cd memory requirement, before installation. The page also says: Once installed, it is strongly recommended to have at least 512 MB of memory.
    – Braiam
    Aug 18, 2013 at 11:24
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    Soulsource, may I recommend Midori midori-browser.org or Qupzilla qupzilla.com as ligter browsers than Firefox?
    – K7AAY
    Nov 5, 2013 at 23:14
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Kubuntu

The official flavour of Ubuntu using KDE. The default desktop environment is KDE Plasma Desktop.

Minimum

  • Xenial Xerus (16.04)

    • 5 GB of free disk space
    • other requirements are similar to the following
  • Bionic Beaver (18.04)

    • 1 GHz processor
    • 512 MB of system memory (RAM)
    • 8 GB of free disk space
    • VGA capable of 1024x768 screen resolution

The minimum requirements were last mentioned in Kubuntu 8.04 news announcement, then merely copied from Ubuntu 12.04 release note and has since deprecated, and not found at elsewhere. The minimum requirements for newer release is unofficial and subject to testing on real hardware or in a virtual machine (VM). Kubuntu has varying requirements on VM.

Xenial Xerus (16.04) on VM: Requires at least 1 GB RAM, 10 GB fixed-size Virtual Disk Image, 128 MB video memory. Selecting "Try Kubuntu" or "Install Kubuntu" does not matter. Live session will takes time to load; If virtual machine has stopped responding, do reset and start again. Installation may take longer time. User will see "low disk space warning" during installation but will succeed.

Bionic Beaver (18.04) on VM: Requires VT-x/AMD-V hardware acceleration, regardless of 32-bit or 64-bit ISO image. Requires at least 9 GB fixed-size Virtual Disk Image. With 512 MB RAM, choose either "Try Kubuntu" or "Install Kubuntu"; otherwise, running the installer from desktop will not work as expected. With 768 MB RAM, user can first choose "Try Kubuntu" and later can also run the installer from the live desktop.

Recommended

  • 1 GHz dual core processor or better
  • 2 GB of system memory (RAM)
  • 10 GB of free disk space (the more hard disk capacity, the better)
  • VGA capable of 1024x768 screen resolution. If desktop effects are desired, a supported GPU is required.

The recommended requirement is based on this poorly cited source on Wikipedia and this partially compatible requirements for Ubuntu 16.04. The amount of system memory and free disk space are similar to the requirements for KDE neon.

Kubuntu has no official system requirements to this revised date.

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  • @clearkimura well, it's a community wiki, why don't you search for sources and add it?
    – Braiam
    Apr 14, 2017 at 15:42
  • As of today, I have concluded that Kubuntu has no official system requirements for KDE Plasma Desktop. For alternative answer, refer to this relevant post on Unix.SE.
    – user37165
    Sep 28, 2019 at 9:28
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Ubuntu Mate

Ubuntu Mate is a official flavour of Ubuntu, based on Mate DE. Designed to run on modern desktops and laptops, micro computers and older hardware alike.

Ubuntu Mate Image from Wikipedia

Hardware Requirements:

Minimum:

  • Pentium M 1.0 gigahertz
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM
  • 9 gigabytes (GB) of available space on the hard disk
  • Bootable DVD-ROM drive/USB flash drive
  • Keyboard and Mouse (or other pointing device)
  • Video adapter and monitor with 1024 x 768 or higher resolution
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headphones

Recommended:

  • Core 2 Duo 1.6-gigahertz
  • 2 gigabytes (GB) RAM
  • 16 gigabytes (GB) of available space on the hard disk
  • Bootable USB flash drive
  • Keyboard and Mouse (or other pointing device)
  • 3D capable video adapter and wide screen monitor with 1366 x 768 or higher resolution
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headphones

Reference:

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Ubuntu Kylin

Ubuntu variant for Chinese users.

Minimum

  • Trusty Tahr (14.04)

    • 1 GHz processor (for example Intel Celeron or better)
    • 1 GiB RAM (system memory)
    • 8 GB of free hard drive space for installation
    • Either a CD/DVD drive or a USB port for the installer media
    • Internet access is helpful (for installing updates during the installation process).
  • Zesty Zapus (17.04)

Ubuntu Kylin daily build has 64-bit PC desktop image only and has noted that user will need at least 1024 MiB of RAM to install from the image.

Recommended

No official information found yet

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Ubuntu Budgie (formerly Budgie-Remix)

The official flavour of Ubuntu using Budgie desktop environment, since 9 November 2016. 17.04 is the first official release under the new name, Ubuntu Budgie.

Minimum

The minimum specified hardware for flawless experience.

  • 1.5 GHz processor
  • 2 GB of system memory (RAM)
  • 60 GB of disk space

In 90% of cases you are good to go with those and specs above. However, some machines have specific hardware that requires you to check the driver before installation which is usually related to Broadcom Network cards found in laptops.

Recommended

The recommended download details for 18.04 and newer:

  • 4GB or more of RAM
  • 64-bit capable Intel and AMD processors
  • UEFI PCs booting in CSM mode.
  • Modern Intel-based Apple Macs

See "Installation Guide" in download page of Ubuntu Budgie.

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Modern Lubuntu (using LXQt)

enter image description here

The Lubuntu team published Taking a New Direction

which states

our main focus is shifting from providing a distribution for old hardware to a functional yet modular distribution focused on getting out of the way and letting users use their computer.

with the following goals

  • Lubuntu will leverage modern, Qt-based technologies and programs to give users a functional yet modular experience.
  • In collaboration with others, Lubuntu will continue to be a transparent and open distribution which makes it a priority to keep the community informed about the development when possible.
  • Lubuntu will create and maintain complete documentation which will be included by default in the operating system, and can guide anyone from beginner to expert on how to use Lubuntu to its full potential and contribute to the further development of it.
  • Lubuntu will keep a light experience by default but enable users to utilize more heavy and featureful components as desired.
  • Lubuntu will have the ability to be used in any language across the world, and enable contributors to easily translate all components of the operating system.

meaning

This means that Lubuntu will stay light, and for users with old systems, should still be usable. But we will no longer provide minimum system requirements and we will no longer primarily focus on older hardware.

Devices with as little as 1GB of RAM were used in QA-testing Lubuntu up to and into the disco cycle (or Lubuntu 19.04), however devices used for QA-testing later releases contained 2GB or more of RAM.

Your requirements will vary on how you use your machine, especially application choice (ie. selecting software that uses the same libraries already used by your desktop means less RAM is required).

Lubuntu up to 18.04 used the LXDE desktop which used the GTK2 toolkit. The LXDE developers however felt GTK3 was too heavy, so had joined forces with the Razor-Qt developers creating a new LXQt desktop that would remain light and fully utilize Qt5.

Lubuntu doesn't use KF5 (KDE Frameworks 5) so whilst KDE apps will efficiently use Qt5 libs already used by the desktop, the hit to many KDE apps is the need to load KF5, which is still likely less than using an GTK3 app.

The right choice for you, will depend very much on what applications you use.

A recent Front Page Linux article wrote

"When we start to look at RAM utilization and hard disk space, the clear stand-out is Lubuntu"

however as already indicated, if you need specific GTK3 apps, Lubuntu may not be best for your use-case; only you can decide what's best for you; based on what you'll use your machine for.

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  • FYI: If my box has 5GB or more of RAM, I tend to ignore the hit of applications & just do what I need to... With 4GB I'm somewhat careful, with 2GB or less though I'm very careful.. My devices with 1GB of RAM all have multiple desktops installed, so I use the desktop that will be most efficient for what I plan to do that day/session; ie. disk space used by multiple desktops worries me far less than the 1GB of RAM the old thinkpads have (and it's not always Lubuntu!)
    – guiverc
    Jun 3, 2021 at 6:54
  • I also consider the release in my hit calculation, ie. MATE when very light long ago when it was GTK2, but GTK3 is heavier... XFCE likewise slowed as it ported to GTK3, where as the LXDE devs noting the hit GTK3 had blogged about it & explained they were joining with Razor-Qt team & created LXQt utilizing Qt5 instead of the early GTK3 port then in development... LXQt is lighter yes than GTK3, but it's a huge change application wise if you plan on keeping your device lean (esp. if you do need to run GTK3 apps)
    – guiverc
    Jun 3, 2021 at 6:58
  • The answers are community wiki precisely so you can edit it. Just edit the answers with the new information, rather than posting a new one.
    – Braiam
    Jun 3, 2021 at 13:34
  • @Braiam that would have me removing information, just as I did on Ubuntu wiki's for Xubuntu & Lubuntu, not adding information. Neither Xubuntu nor Lubuntu provide minimum specifications (since move to LXQt for Lubuntu, since GTK3 port for XFCE for Xubuntu), thus my choice for a new LXQt answer (rather than loss of legacy/LXDE details that were far more precise, even if 18.04/unsupported by flavors; 18.04 wasn't GTK3 yet for Xubuntu so was lighter). There is no alternate ISO (for boxes with 768MB or less of RAM since 18.10 so minimum now is seen as 1GB to install using calamares
    – guiverc
    Jun 3, 2021 at 22:30
  • There's no removing information. All the information is in the revision history. Please, don't post new answers when you can update previous ones to be up to date. If the answers become obsolete, they are detrimental for all the readers.
    – Braiam
    Jun 4, 2021 at 11:58
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Regarding 32-bit x86 CPUs

As of October 2019 (Ubuntu version 19.10 and 20.04 LTS), the 32-bit x86 architecture is no longer officially supported in Ubuntu.

This means that if you still have a 32-bit CPU, the best option is to look for another Linux distribution that officially supports 32-bit x86 architecture.

To find out details about your CPU, visit the following links and search for your CPU model:

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