[ubuntu-uk] Minimal Ubuntu setups (was: Ubuntu Server - sys req?

Andrew Oakley andrew at aoakley.com
Mon Feb 11 17:21:17 GMT 2008

Rob Beard wrote:
> Quoting Eddie Armstrong <eddie_armstrong at ntlworld.com>:
>> Nice Vid, btw, Andrew (assuming you are the same Mr Oakley)

Yup, ta.

> I was impressed too that all that runs on a 1.5GHz machine.

I'm pretty sure that's down to stuffing as much old PC133 memory into 
the box as I can find. The trick is to run the Linux boot memory test 
utility overnight on any second-hand memory that falls my way! Most 
second-hand memory is second-hand for a reason.

The NVidia GeForce2MX 64MB graphics card obviously helps with the 3D 
desktop. It is amazing how little omph you need to run Beryl/Compiz; 
almost anything that supports transparency will support Beryl/Compiz. 
Basically any old junk that can support DirectX 7 (yes, I know, a 
Microsoft standard, but an easy way to identify graphics card power). I 
also had an old 16MB 3DFX Voodoo Banshee card, but that was just too 
old, didn't support transparency and wouldn't run Beryl.

If you don't want the 3D desktop, you really can get away with 800MHz 
CPUs etc, so long as you slap in lots of *reliable* memory, and that's 
still using Gnome. With Xubuntu I'd imagine you could even get something 
useful out of a 400MHz CPU and 64MB memory.

Below 400MHz I think you'd have to either forgo the GUI, or use 
something really, really lightweight such as IceWM or Fluxbox.


One thing that I did, which I now regret doing, was to try to save oomph 
by installing only a minimal desktop; ie. starting with the server 
distro, installing the Gnome GUI by hand, and only installing the 
applications I thought I actually needed. For a while, this seemed like 
a good idea. Whilst this does save some resources, mostly all it saves 
is hard drive space, and hard drives are dirt cheap these days. What you 
end up with, is a non-standard looking desktop, which makes for a total 
nightmare when you later try to follow an Ubuntu tutorial. "Click this 
menu option, select that"... frequently doesn't work unless you've 
installed the full Ubuntu or Xubuntu distros.

I documented my experience with Dapper 6.06 LTS here:


 > Did it use some sort of desktop video recording or a
 > TV output into a video capture card?
( http://youtube.com/watch?v=0GOlLJP_Knk )

Used RecordMyDesktop, no additional hardware required, saves direct to 
Ogg. Annoyingly, it was the overhead of RecordMyDesktop that caused the 
slight jerkiness on the video playback on the excerpt; it normally runs 
totally smooth even when rotating the cube with windowed video playback! 
The straw that broke the camel's back, I suppose.


It's on the repos.

Andrew Oakley

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