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I know this has been explained very well in general, but I want to ask for advice on this particular situation. I hope it's not considered a duplicate.

My friend has this old netbook with only 1 GB of RAM and a 1.66 Ghz dual core. The processor is an Intel Atom N450.

I'm gonna install Lubuntu 16.04 (Or whatever flavor will perform the best.)

My friend will use it for mainly web browsing, movie watching and word processing.

We want the system to be as snappy as possible, given the old hardware.

What will perform better, 64-bit or 32-bit? Is Lubuntu indeed the best flavor?

By the way, my friend can't afford to upgrade the RAM. He is very poor with a near zero income. He's from a third world country. 20$ is like two weeks' salary for him.

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Go for the version it is suppose to be able to hold.

Intel Atom N450 is 64-bit so I would stick to a 64-bit and match the minimum specs for any of the Ubuntu flavours. lUbuntu and xUbuntu are options. Beyond that: do consider alternatives that are around but not Ubuntu; like Puppy Linux or Damn Small Linux.

Regarding:

What will perform better, 64-bit or 32-bit?

That depends on usage. 64-bit should perform better on heavy usage.

Is Lubuntu indeed the best flavor?

Probably. Or xUbuntu (that is more a preference of desktop: lxde or xfce and not about processor).

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  • That's interesting. If I install Puppy or DSL to the internal HDD, will they still run from RAM? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica May 23 '16 at 12:30
  • Can you clarify what you mean by heavy usage? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica May 23 '16 at 12:33
  • 1. yes. 2. mainly watching video and gaming. – Rinzwind May 23 '16 at 12:52
  • I see. He won't be gaming. He will watch some videos, but mainly DVD's. And when he watches compressed formats, it's not HD. So should be fine. He's more interested in snappiness when browsing, launching apps, etc. What is the benefit (if any) of going for 32-bit? FWIW, we've already tried 32-bit Ubuntu on it. It did struggle a little bit and was a bit sluggish, but I think maybe that was because of Unity, etc? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica May 23 '16 at 12:56
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    None. 32-bit is on its way out. Might take a while but it will be considered a waste of resources (like Google pulling the plug on 32-bit chrome more will follow). And that will not just be due to Unity; Ubuntu is resource heavy anyways (it has more resource heavy software compared to L and X). 1Gb RAM is just not enough. – Rinzwind May 23 '16 at 14:13
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According to your computer specification, you should use 32bit system. 64bit system can use more than 4GBs of RAM, but it's useless when you have only one. What is more, 32bit would be safer for this processor. Lubuntu is the most lightweight distribution (AFAIK), so this is also good for this computer.

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  • Yes, but it's simpler for processor to deal with 32B of data per one operation than with 64B. At least it takes less resources, although it's slower. – Michal Polovka May 23 '16 at 12:12
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    a 32 bit OS will work, bit in the case of web browsing you'll not be able to run Chrome if that's one of your preferences – pfeiffep May 23 '16 at 12:31
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    @Michal no, 64-bit CPUs deal with 64 bits or more at a time. Using 32-bit operations just waste the upper bits. It even deals with 128, 256 or 512 bits at a time in case of SIMD. Using 64-bit version is not useless because there are more things to x86_64 than just widening to 64-bits. quora.com/… Look at the benchmarks out there phoronix.com/… – phuclv Jan 30 '17 at 6:25
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According to intel atom N450 supports 64bit but for performance reasons you should choose lubuntu 32 bit.

Just keep in mind that some applications support only 64bit nowadays.

  • One example is Google Chrome which has no 32 bit installer for linux anymore

    • but if you use Chromium you can still install the Adobe Flash Player for 32-bit Chromium directly from Adobe here (downloading the PPAPI .tar.gz and copying libpepflashplayer.so to /usr/lib/adobe-flashplugin/libpepflashplayer.so or similar should work)
  • Another example is viber which also has only 64bit installer for linux.

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  • 1+ for reminding me about the Chrome issue, I had completely forgotten about that. That may be important to my friend. – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica May 23 '16 at 12:32
  • :D you can still use chromium since most sites use html player nowadays and I read that google plans to completely block flash player in a few months (user will have to enable it for each site specific). – Thanos Apostolou May 23 '16 at 12:36
  • Interesting. But, for the time being, a lot of video streaming websites still use flash. What major sites, except for Youtube, don't use flash? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica May 23 '16 at 12:37
  • I don't remember specific but I usually don't have any problems with my 32bit laptop. If some site needs flash you can still use firefox (with the old NPAPI flash version 11 which may be a little laggy but with enough security). – Thanos Apostolou May 23 '16 at 12:46
  • Well, yeah. I'm looking forward to Flash dying :) – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica May 23 '16 at 12:48

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