GNU/Linux Advocacy

Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Tue Feb 20 18:56:39 GMT 2007

On 20/02/07, chombee <chombee at> wrote:
> On Tue, 2007-02-20 at 09:28 -0500, Eric Dunbar wrote:
> > Perhaps so, but I find that Ubuntu GNOME is no much less of a memory
> > hog (on the low-end machines) than Windows XP, and, compared to the
> > earlier stable versions of Windows (NT 4 SP 6, 2K) it actually
> > requires more resources to run well. Of course, if you're willing to
> > go with a crippled GUI you can manage with fewer computing resources,
> > but, then you're also sacrificing desktop functionality.
> Am I right in thinking Vista requires 1GB of RAM? Or is that only if you
> have the new desktop effects turned on?
> I volunteer at a free software lab that does many installs of Ubuntu for
> individuals and organisations on old reclaimed machines. Hardware that
> other people, usually Windows users, are throwing out because it's of no
> use to them anymore. We've found that standard Ubuntu/GNOME will run
> well on pretty much anything as long as you can boost it up to 256MB
> RAM.

I've always been disappointed by the memory requirements for a desktop
Linux install -- Windows NT 4.0 runs fine in 64 MB of RAM on a PII/200
and offers an environment that can be completely locked down. GNOME
offers the same GUI and chokes on anything less than 128 MB and a much
faster CPU (though, it too can be locked down).

There's certainly a difference in what the OSes were designed for
Windows NT was designed to run on hardware that had 8 or even 16 MB of
RAM whereas most developers won't have seen that type of hardware in
nearly two decades!!!

> I'm not sure how that compares to Windows XP. But the big advantage of
> putting Ubuntu on a machine like this is that it'll continue to run as
> well as it did on day one until the hardware fails. Even if XP does run
> OK on such a machine at first, it will have crippled it in a few months.
> So people really appreciate when we give them a stable, long-term
> solution using free hardware and software.

> If a machine is really too low end to run Ubuntu/GNOME, I still think
> that with Ubuntu you're in a better position. We can setup XUbuntu for
> people, or if it's *really* low-end hardware do an Ubuntu server install
> and build them a custom desktop based on a lightweight window manager
> like Openbox. So there really is a solution for almost any old hardware.
> The advantage of using Ubuntu in this way compared to installing Windows
> 95 or 98, is that the user still gets modern, up-to-date,
> still-being-maintained software. They can run the latest web browser,
> etc.

Do you actually set up light weight window managers for users?

As for running old hardware -- if someone's running old hardware, I
highly doubt they're particularly concerned with running the latest

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