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linux desktop memory requirements





teko
Hi I've an old PIII laptop with 378MB memory.

How would one of the popular desktop distros fare on that? I'm thinking of Ubuntu with Gnome of Kubuntu with KDE?

My main use would be surfing, watching films and some light development work.
qscomputing
Memory is plenty high enough, although you don't specify your processor speed, which would be helpful. You can run Linux on almost any hardware, although with a P3 or lower you'd probably want to go for a less resource-intensive desktop than KDE or GNOME.
teko
oh yeah sorry about that I've a 800MHz processor. I guess should look at Xfce or fluxbox so?

Was also thinking about Xubuntu
fromegame
I think Xubuntu will run Wink

Or you could also try DSL (damn-small-linux), that works on almost all computers, but as it's name says, it's very small, so it hasn't got very much features.
Arnie
No need for DSL on a P3 800MHz with that much RAM. It would actually be a waste...

I have a P3 800MHz with 192MB RAM and it even runs the latest Knoppix CD fine; Knoppix is basically Debian on a RAM-drive, so there is even less memory available. It uses KDE.

But, if you still want lightweight stuff, try IceWM. I would suggest you go for Debian if you're considered with lightweight stuff; take the manual aptitude package selection and you can safely cut off all the stuff you won't need.

Ubuntu is based on Debian but it's the 'pop edition' imho.
{name here}
teko wrote:
oh yeah sorry about that I've a 800MHz processor. I guess should look at Xfce or fluxbox so?

Was also thinking about Xubuntu

I have an 866 Mhz machine with 256 MB ram and I installed KDE, GNOME, Fluxbox, and XFCE. I experienced no noticeable difference in performance between the four. However, I did experience a noticeable difference when I used rio, but I don't think you'll necessarily like rio if you're a fan of window managers that emphasize text and mouse chording more than eye candy and using icons.
teko
thanks for the replies. Would agree Ubuntu is a "pop" edition of Debian as you put it, but once I get used to Linux and make the switch over from windows permanent I might move on to debian.

I would also like to play around with linux from scratch and gentoo but I've alot of reading to do first before its worth my while going near them.
Arnie
In my experience Debian is the least frustrating switch for advanced Windows users. That is, users who do not like wizards and such typical things. Debian installation is easy provided there are no complications (as with any OS, because as soon as it goes off track you have to dive into the technical stuff); installing programs is very familiar; you just select them in Aptitude and they install. No compiling or anything involved. Only wireless LAN adapters are tough stuff in Linux.

I wouldn't go anywhere near Gentoo and such distributions. It's a waste of your time. If you get all the compiler settings and what-not right you may get a slight improvement of performance; but you don't get everything right because there is so much to customize. The only advantage you get is that you can brag about having compiled your own OS.

This is personal experience because I started with Gentoo and didn't get anywhere near a useful system. That held me off Linux for more than a year, disappointed. As soon as I decided to try Debian I was sold, and now I sell Debian servers made from old hardware.
tomaaa
teko wrote:
Hi I've an old PIII laptop with 378MB memory.

How would one of the popular desktop distros fare on that? I'm thinking of Ubuntu with Gnome of Kubuntu with KDE?

My main use would be surfing, watching films and some light development work.


Zenwalk is also a very nice distro for older machines. It ships with an XFCE desktop, fresh packages, and provides one mainstream application for each tasks. It's extendable with Slackware packages, being Slack based itself. And its speed is really OK. It's running on 256 MB RAM, but 378 MB is really enough.
teko
Well for the time being I've gone ahead and installed Xubuntu, seems ok.

Although it does seem to use alot more memory than I thought it would

The following is pasted from the output of top:

Mem: 385808k total, 231424k used, 154384k free

Swap: 787176k total, 17404k used, 769772k free

I must compare it with Windows XP and its memory usage. Saying that its very responsive but then again I've only a few terminals open, XFCE running, Firefox running and skype.

Thanks for all your help, I'll get back to playing with my new toy. Speaking of wireless adapters thats my next task to get working and to make it trickier I've a usb wireless adapter!
tomaaa
Xubuntu also can be great for you. I'm currently running 2 Debian Etch at home, yesterday we installed a Kubuntu 6.10 on my brother's PC. Great OS, I bet it is also great with XFCE Smile
TurboLama
teko wrote:
I must compare it with Windows XP and its memory usage. Saying that its very responsive but then again I've only a few terminals open, XFCE running, Firefox running and skype.

Linux has completely different memory management, so top can show you more used memory then Windows... If you want to compare, try to run htop, it shows real memory usage (by apps).
Arnie
No, Linux turns out to be quite memory-hungry indeed. I have problems with that all the time when using it on my old machines. If you spend a lot of time tweaking it can be trimmed down, though. Debian with IceWM should work reasonably on a 64MB RAM system, if you have removed all the unnecessary stuff with aptitude.
teko
thanks for that was thinking that the memory management might be different.Actually any good articles links on how memory is used in Linux?

Will give htop a try, thanks again!
djclue917
teko wrote:
Hi I've an old PIII laptop with 378MB memory.

How would one of the popular desktop distros fare on that? I'm thinking of Ubuntu with Gnome of Kubuntu with KDE?

My main use would be surfing, watching films and some light development work.


Maybe you want to try out something optimized (as in build-optimized) for your system to get the most out of your CPU cycles? Based on my experience, Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu are a lot slower than other Linux distributions that are build-optimized for a certain architecture. Take for example, Arch Linux.

I've experienced very noticeable gain in system responsiveness of KDE when using Arch as compared to when using Kubuntu.

When you're really hardcore and you have a lot of time, processing power, and electricity to spare, you could go for source-based distros like Gentoo, etc.

BTW, to answer your question...
Ubuntu generally is kind of slow on a system with 512MB of RAM. Kubuntu is a lot slower since it uses KDE. But of course, obviously, Xubuntu will be a lot faster since it uses Xfce.
teko
would re-compiling the kernel help?

have taken a look at arch linux sounds good, I might try it out and see what happens. Am mainly experimenting at the moment so re-installing doesn't really bother me
Arno v. Lumig
Paste the output of free -m please, it will perfectly show your memory usage, including buffer size and active memory. The reason Linux seems like it uses a lot of memory is that it does not clear the memory, until it's needed. That means an application will stay in memory until that memory space is needed. For this reason an application will start faster the second time then the third time.

I do advice DSL tho, especially as an frugal install on the HD. You can still do the toram option, which means the whole OS will be put into RAM space. When just booted it will use around 30MB, for a full OS including graphical environment. Believe me, it's blazing fast, even on an 800MHz PC. Even greater is when you install it onto an USB flash drive, so you can use the OS everywhere you go, and modify the login scripts so it loads your configuration (for example installed applications, desktop background, hardware support etc) on boot.

I am planning to do a frugal install to my USB drive, and then run it toram with Beryl/Compiz/AIGLX. I think I would end up pretty much creating my own linux distro in doing that, but it really seems nice to be able to try out all these things at friends etc, so everyone goes like "WOW? What the bleep is that?!".

Enough dreaming now, just get a few distros and see what you like and what your computer likes. You might also want to try FreeBSD/PC-BSD if you want to try something different and that's a bit less mainstream.


Greets,
Arno
{name here}
Arnie wrote:
No, Linux turns out to be quite memory-hungry indeed. I have problems with that all the time when using it on my old machines. If you spend a lot of time tweaking it can be trimmed down, though. Debian with IceWM should work reasonably on a 64MB RAM system, if you have removed all the unnecessary stuff with aptitude.

Plan 9's rio WM will work good with just 32 MB RAM. It depends on if you use X or not and what window manager you use. Unfortunately most window managers use X.
teko
Ok here's my "free -m" output as requested:

test>free -m
total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 376 331 45 0 5 160
-/+ buffers/cache: 165 211
Swap: 768 22 746


Also did a htop and its stated at the time it was ran 169MB of memory is in use

Should say I had a word processor, gimp, skype, gaim and firefox running when I did the above.

I'm pretty happy with Xubuntu for now and its pretty responsive for my needs at the moment
jon9314
In my experience Debian is the least frustrating switch for advanced Windows users. That is, users who do not like wizards and such typical things. Debian installation is easy provided there are no complications (as with any OS, because as soon as it goes off track you have to dive into the technical stuff); installing programs is very familiar; you just select them in Aptitude and they install. No compiling or anything involved. Only wireless LAN adapters are tough stuff in Linux.

I wouldn't go anywhere near Gentoo and such distributions. It's a waste of your time. If you get all the compiler settings and what-not right you may get a slight improvement of performance; but you don't get everything right because there is so much to customize. The only advantage you get is that you can brag about having compiled your own OS.

This is personal experience because I started with Gentoo and didn't get anywhere near a useful system. That held me off Linux for more than a year, disappointed. As soon as I decided to try Debian I was sold, and now I sell Debian servers made from old hardware.
Arnie
Wait, did you just copy what I posted above?
TheGeek
Xubuntu is an excellent choice for a low end desktop machine. I have it running on a PIII 500Mhz with 224MB of RAM and it runs just fine...firefox and other apps load a little slower than on my C2D or Opteron machine...but that is to be expected...
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