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How can I improve overall system performance?

I recently installed Ubuntu. I was using Windows XP for years, then I decided to try Linux.

This is my computer: 2.40 Ghz, 1Gb of RAM, 64mb GPU.

It works great with Windows XP and 7 but it is slower than slowpoke in Ubuntu.

What should I do?

  • You should do more diagnosis first :) Run top in a Terminal to see if anything is hogging CPU time. You can also see there how much swap is in use; if you're heavily swapping your system will crawl. iostat -k 5 or similar (from the sysstat package) will show you if your disks are overloaded. That should do for starters, perhaps post back with the results of that first.
    – Caesium
    Dec 14, 2011 at 23:25
  • @Caesium His system is just slow... Dec 14, 2011 at 23:29
  • 3
    :( The day has come when we can call 2.4GHz slow? Even with only 1GB I feel that should give acceptable performance so there might be something wrong.
    – Caesium
    Dec 14, 2011 at 23:32
  • 1
    I believe that your system runs fast in Windows XP, but I'm highly skeptical about Windows 7. 1Gb of RAM is not enough for modern OSes with fancy GUI. You should try a lighter shade of Ubuntu like xubuntu based on lighter desktop environment. I'm writing this post from xubuntu on a laptop with 1Gb of RAM and it works fast. If it's not too big of a problem buying an extra 1Gb of RAM would significantly improve speed of your computer.
    – enedene
    Dec 15, 2011 at 0:31
  • @enedene I am running Ubuntu 2D(Unity) on 895MB RAM(Considering chipset graphics shared memory) with no problems.
    – nanofarad
    Jun 1, 2012 at 22:42

6 Answers 6


Ubuntu 11.10 has taken the necessary step up updating from Gtk2 to Gtk3. Most of the system is noticeably slower then previous releases and requires a faster computer to run smoothly (does not mean you cannot run).

With your computer specs I would recommend that you run Ubuntu 10.10 (change the release on the dropbox Download Options) or running any Ubuntu alternatives with a lighter desktop environment, ie: xubuntu or lubuntu.

If you still think Ubuntu is the way and 11.10 is the release to go then you should be for sure using Unity2D instead of the default Unity3D.

There are some tweaks that you might do and get some very limited boost in performance, but those take more work than should and the difference in the end will barely be noticeable

  • 1
    He doesn't actually state he's using 11.10 though it's probably a reasonable assumption
    – Caesium
    Dec 14, 2011 at 23:51

Your computer is simply not very fast hardware-wise. You would be well advised to install Lubuntu, a less pretty but faster Ubuntu derivative for running on systems with limited resources. At the least, use Unity 2D. This will hog less resources. You can use Unity 2D at the login screen by clicking the gear icon and selecting "Unity 2D" before logging in. You can get Lubuntu by opening a terminal session and typing:

sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop


sudo apt-get install lubuntu-netbook

depending on your preference.


Try to use Unity 2D. This should run faster on your hardware. You can also try to update your graphics card driver.


Ubuntu is very slow. 1 GB of RAM is the minimum to have an acceptably performing system. I would suggest you to try Slackware or FreeBSD and you will see the light!

  • Is Slackware or FreeBSD with GNOME 3 or KDE 4 Plasma Workspaces really faster than Ubuntu or Kubuntu? Jul 20, 2012 at 8:16

I use Ubuntu 11.10 with a laptop that I bought in 2004..it has a Intel Centrino single core 1.4 Ghz with 1.5 GB RAM and it runs much faster than XP (I doubt that I can even install Vista or 7)..so Ubuntu doesn't need so much hardware to run smooth.. at login, you can choose between Unity (Unity 3D, which uses hardware acceleration) and Unity 2D at your ease.. the only thing to check before is the video card:

  • Nvidia : use the proprietary driver and you should be able to run Unity 3D (I have a laptop with Nvidia 9600 GT and Unity 3D runs very smoothly);

  • Ati: you can try the newest Ati proprietary drivers and, if they work, you should be able to run Unity 3D; otherwise, use the opensource driver and you should be able to run Unity 2D smoothly (I installed Ubuntu on 2 laptops with Ati video cards, 4470 and 5470, and I used the opensource driver in both cases and they run Unity 2D smoothly; I installed it on an old PC with Ati video card and with the opensource driver it runs Unity 2D);

  • Intel: you must use the opensource driver and you probably should be able to use Unity 3D, although on mine I can't (on my old laptop with Intel i8xx video card, I can use Unity 2D smoothly, I can run Eclipse and develop on Android and so on; with previous versions of Ubuntu, I had many problems that were solved in 11.10; Iinstalled it on a netbook and it runs Unity 3D without problems).

To know if your video card driver supports Unity 3D use this command from terminal:

/usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test -p

Just as an FYI: I am running Ubuntu 11.10 on a laptop with an AMD 2.1 dual core athlon with 8 gigs of ram. My suggestion is to find some more ram for your system--this will greatly improve its functionality and smoothness.

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