Practical Technology

for practical people.

How slow can Linux go?


If it has a CPU, you can run Linux on it. Xboxes or iPhones, cars or calculators, Linux can live quite happily on any of these devices. But, when it comes to the desktop or laptop, how much processing power do you need to run a modern Linux desktop?

The short answer to this question is “not much at all.” In fact, I don’t think you could buy a computer at your local Best Buy or online that can’t run Linux.

Let’s take Ubuntu 9.04, which is due to arrive this week. The official minimum requirements for this popular Linux distribution are a 700MHz processor and 256MBs of RAM. I think that’s too low. In my experience, you could run GNOME 2.26 on that slow a processor, but the RAM’s way too low. You could pull it off with 512MBs, but you’d be happier with a Gigabyte.

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