[Gllug] conversion from WinXP to Linux

John Edwards john at cornerstonelinux.co.uk
Wed May 5 10:56:58 UTC 2010

On Wed, May 05, 2010 at 10:57:43AM +0100, James Courtier-Dutton wrote:
<snip sensible advice> 
> Changing the OS is quite a big move. Those old PCs might not be fast
> enough to run the latest Ubuntu releases that have animated desktops
> etc.

That's easy enough to switch that off.

> You might want to look at distributions designed to be used on lower
> performing PCs.

It's not really the distribution that matters, but the desktop
enviroment and applications. A full Gnome or KDE desktop will
perform about the same on any distribution.

I've run Ubuntu on diskless machines with 128MB of RAM and no swap.
Worked fine with a simple window manager (eg Openbox) and running
simple programs (eg VNC client).

A rough run down of desktop enviroments and window managers:

High memory (512MB+) = Gnome, KDE = full desktop like Windows or MacOS,
applets to configure peripherals (eg scanners, printers, wireless).

Medium memory (256MB-512MB) = XFCE, Window Maker = simpler desktop,
not as pretty, has it's own panel with lots of optional applets.

Low memory (128M-256MB) = Openbox, Fluxbox, FVWM and many others
= very basic windows manager usually with just a menu, panel/taskbar
is a separate program, no integrated applets, configuring peripherals
require separate programs.

You may be able to run with less than 128MB if you don't mind being
slowed down by using swap space, especially during package updates.

Once you add in large applications like OpenOffice to a Gnome/KDE
desktop then you are probably looking about 1GB-2GB to perform well
without swapping. Luckily there are a lot of cheap machines with
2GB of RAM around (eg the Acer Revo for 150-200 GBP).

|    John Edwards   Email: john at cornerstonelinux.co.uk    |
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