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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 You can comment or edit if you feel that the information is obsolete or incomplete.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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Ubuntu Desktop

The main flavour of Ubuntu using Unity (16.04) or GNOME Shell (17.10 and newer).

Minimum

  • Xenial Xerus (16.04)

    • 700 MHz processor (Intel Celeron or better)
    • 384 MB of system memory (RAM) for 32-bit
    • 512 MB of system memory (RAM) for 64-bit
    • 8 GB of free disk space
    • VGA capable of 1024x768 screen resolution
    • Either a DVD drive or a USB port for the installer media
  • Bionic Beaver (18.04)

    • at least 1 GHz 64-bit processor, given that 32-bit desktop live was discontinued
    • at least 1 GB of system memory
    • at least 9 GB of free disk space
    • other requirements may follow the "Recommended" section

The minimum requirements were last mentioned in 12.04 release note, and has since not found in release note of newer releases. The minimum requirements for newer releases are unofficial and subject to testing on real hardware or in a virtual machine (VM). 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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    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. – Paddy Landau Aug 21 '13 at 13:20
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    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 '16 at 14:26
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Lubuntu and Xubuntu

The lightweight flavors of Ubuntu using LXDE (Lubuntu) or XFCE (Xubuntu).

The following are minimum requirements for Xubuntu:

  • 512 MiB of system memory (RAM)
  • 7.5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card and monitor capable of 800x600 resolution
  • CPU: PAE-capable

Recommended for Xubuntu 18.04 64-bit or later:

  • 1~2+ GiB of system memory (RAM)
  • 8~16+ GB of disk space
  • Graphics card and monitor capable of 1024x768 resolution
  • Dual Core processor

Lubuntu can run with even less:

Lubuntu Minimum requirements:

  • CPU: PAE Support, Pentium 4 or Pentium M or AMD K8
  • 192 MiB RAM

For non-PAE see this page.

(These settings are for a system fully installed and running, not counting before the installation nor text-based versions.)

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    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 '13 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 '13 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 '13 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 '13 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 '13 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.

  • @clearkimura well, it's a community wiki, why don't you search for sources and add it? – Braiam Apr 14 '17 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. – clearkimura Sep 28 at 9:28
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Ubuntu Mate

Ubuntu Mate is a recently(02-2015) official derivative of Ubuntu, based on gnome2. Designed to run on modern desktops and laptops, micro computers and older hardware alike.

Ubuntu Mate Image from Wikipedia

Hardware Requirements:

Minimum:

  • Pentium III 750-megahertz
  • 512 megabytes (MB) of RAM
  • 8 gigabytes (GB) of available space on the hard disk -Bootable DVD-ROM 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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