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Old 02-12-2004, 06:03 AM   #1
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Minimum memory for Linux desktops

The different Linux desktops & distros come with guidelines for how much memory they need, but I'm interested in what people have found usable in practise.

For example, will KDE 3.1 run on 64MB RAM, or is a complete dog? How about Gnome?

I especially want to know how little memory I can get away with to have a usable desktop with Gnome or KDE; information on other Windows managers would also be useful.

One reason for my question is that running Windows 98 or NT on 64MB RAM is quite common (and works OK). I would like to know what the options for switching to Linux without upgrading hardware are.
Old 02-12-2004, 06:26 AM   #2
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One reason for my question is that running Windows 98 or NT on 64MB RAM is quite common (and works OK)
i hope you mean NT4, cause i will guaruntee you, that your system will be sluggish as hell if your running 2k, or XP with that little ram ..the only window OSs that you will run with 64MB ram is win98 or earlier (you can included the very successful winME also ) ... but again you didn't state any other specs, but i will still guaruntee that 64 wont' cut it ..

but anyways, as of running KDE and GNOME, i would say if you tweaked your box up enough to handle it, and disable services, etc ... i think you could have no problem ... especially if you use one of those distros like redhat that start a bazillion services by default ....

but personally, and i know you didn't ask this, but if it really was me, and i had limited resources so to speak .... with only the 64MB of ram (unsure of other specs) i would just some lightweight window manager, and not worry about trying to tweak the box to handle KDE or GNOME ...

Last edited by DrOzz; 02-12-2004 at 06:27 AM.
Old 02-12-2004, 06:30 AM   #3
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Originally posted by DrOzz
i hope you mean NT4, cause i will guaruntee you, that your system will be sluggish as hell if your running 2k, or XP with that little ram
Yes. My PC at work runs NT4 with 64MB of RAM. It's not great, but OK as long as I don't expect too much of it.
Old 02-12-2004, 07:15 AM   #4
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hey man I just got a pentium II with 64 MB ram, 4 gig HDD and a whooping ati rage 1 MB card, as long as you shut down everything else you don't need Mepis Distro and KDE runs beautiful on it

if you are comfortable with installing from scratch, i would say go gentoo and make a kernel as small as possible... shut down anything you wouldn't need i.e. sound cd-write access

another option is to get your hands on some live CD's and try it out that way
Old 02-12-2004, 07:17 AM   #5
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64 mb will fire up KDE or Gnome, but you'll spend you days in the swap partition. It'll thrash. I ran a box with 32 mb once when my 128mb stick developed errors. KDE fired up, but it was like molassas. You should hae 128 or more, just like 2000/XP want. 256 is better. RAM is your cheapest and most dramatic upgrade. Why no scrape up a few dollars and buy more (SDram and DDR sell here ised for CDN $20 for 64mb or $30 for 128). I'd pony up for the ram if you can. You'll be happier if you wanna run Gnome or KDE (Gnome will be a bit more responsive, I think). If you don't get more ram, choose Windowmaker, IceWM, or Fluxbox as your windowmanager

You can't compare KDE and Gnome to NTs GUI. They both are far more useful and powerful. If you compare IceWM, you'll be more on the same level (and it'll run faster and better than NT)

Last edited by vectordrake; 02-12-2004 at 07:19 AM.
Old 02-13-2004, 07:33 PM   #6
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I'll agree with vectordrake that these days, 128 is the typical low end. The difficulty with answering your question though is that the term "usable system" is subjective. If you don't mind waiting for long (or even very long) periods of time for your apps to load, etc, then maybe you could get some kind of minimal system working in 64M (dunno, never tried it myself) and therefore you might consider it usable. Other people though would not consider it usable if they had to wait 15 - 30 seconds for the system to respond.

Personally, I'd suggest a minimum of 128, with 256 being better. Memory is pretty inexpensive these days, with sticks of 128 going for under $30 and sticks of 256 going for about $50. Obviously everyone's budget is different, but I'd encourage you to go with boosting the memory if at all possible. The amount of time you'll save from *not* having to waste time waiting for your PC will be well worth the cost. -- J.W.


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