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I have a computer (Asus T200TA) with 2G RAM and 32-bit UEFI [Yep, what a wonderful idea to put 32-bit UEFI!]. I have two options:

  1. Install a 64-bit system, boot manually and install grub-efi-ia32. Drawback: 2G is not much, systems with such low RAM are said to run better on 32-bit systems.

  2. Install a 32-bit version. (but from my state of knowledge it's not trivial to boot)

Which option would be better?

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I've installed 32-bit versions of Ubuntu on systems with 32-bit EFIs, including both an ancient 32-bit Mac Mini and an ASUS T100. I don't have detailed documentation on how to do it, but I provide an outline in my answer to this question:

32-Bit UEFI Boot Support

Either way you do it will involve significant hoop-jumping. My own preference is to stick with the bit depth of the EFI, unless you have a compelling reason to do otherwise.

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Install a 64 bit system. This gives you the option of upgrading your RAM at any point in the future.

It also allows you to install 64 bit software which would otherwise not work on a 32 bit system.

  • My 2006 BIOS only laptop with 1.5GB of RAM runs Ubuntu 64 bit ok. I cannot run full Ubuntu but use fallback or gnome-panel as video chip does not have enough horsepower to run Unity. I normally use one larger app and several smaller apps. But if I try to load both Firefox & Thunderbird or Firefox & LibreOffice it turns gray for a couple of seconds and I know it is using swap as it is then slower. – oldfred Jul 28 '15 at 15:13
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    I haven't looked into it, but my suspicion is that upgrading the RAM on an ASUS T200TA (essentially a tablet with detachable keyboard) would not be very practical. – Rod Smith Jul 28 '15 at 15:44
  • You can probably upgrade the RAM in there, you just have to take it apart very carefully. Go ahead and install 64 bit, since it won't do any harm and you can only gain from doing so. – Daniel Jul 29 '15 at 2:12
  • And let me know how this works, I like the concept of these tablet/laptops but hate Windows 8. – Daniel Jul 29 '15 at 2:12
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You can get it done but it takes a bit of work.

First you need to make a live USB of your wanted Ubuntu 64bit version (Xubuntu would be best) but it must have persistence.

The easiest way to make this is to use the startup disk creator on an Ubuntu 14.04 Live USB.

Once you have your USB with persistence you need to add this file to the /EFI/BOOT directory of the flash drive.

Then you:

  • Plug your USB drive into the device
  • Start up the device
  • Go into the BIOS of the device and disable secure boot, save and exit
  • Boot off the USB drive

It should boot into the expected Live USB environment.

Once done, plug in a internet connection (I use my android phone with USB tethering).

Then install the distro onto the device making sure to select the options to install third party software and download updates.

As you have an internet connection while installing it will automatically install 32bit EFI grub for you.

After it is all installed you should be able to boot directly onto the device but you may need to do additional work to get wifi, bluetooth, and sound working.

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