Is UM 16.04 LTS too much for my old desktop?

Hi all. My first post here :slight_smile: I’ve been a regular Ubuntu user, and am now fiddling with an old desktop that I had purchased in 2004, specs of which are as follows:
AMD Athlon64 3000+ (2GHz), 512MB RAM, 80GB IDE HDD, Nvidia GeForce FX5200 AGP card(128MB)

My idea was to install and play Flight Gear on this PC, as it was a super gamer in it’s earlier years :slight_smile: It already had installed Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, and when I tried to install Flight Gear from the Software Center, it doesn’t work, as possibly all the links to the old repositories don’t exist anymore. So, I installed Ubuntu Mate 16.04.2 LTS as dual-boot. 16.04 runs ok, though it’s kinda slow and sometimes the system freezes up. When I look at system monitor, RAM usage rarely crosses 50%, and the processor has a lot of juice to spare. But after installing Flight Gear on the 16.04 setup, the game takes ages to start, processor usage goes up to 100%, and RAM usage to almost 100% (I have enabled a 20GB swap partition too). The game finally doesn’t start, and the system locks up.

So, to play this game, would I have to buy a new PC itself, or would adding say 2 gigs of RAM to this box do the trick? Any ideas/experience regarding this? Thanks in advance…

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I have a machine much like yours. See this -

michael@my_machine:~$ inxi -ACDMNSG
System:    Host: my_machine Kernel: 4.4.0-83-generic x86_64 (64 bit) Desktop: MATE 1.16.2
           Distro: Ubuntu 16.04 xenial
Machine:   Mobo: TAR model: A880G+ Bios: American Megatrends v: 080016 date: 01/25/2011
CPU:       Triple core AMD Athlon II X3 445 (-MCP-) cache: 1536 KB 
           clock speeds: max: 3100 MHz 1: 1900 MHz 2: 800 MHz 3: 1900 MHz
Graphics:  Card: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD/ATI] RV370 [Radeon X300]
           Display Server: X.Org 1.18.4 drivers: ati,radeon (unloaded: fbdev,vesa) Resolution: [email protected]
           GLX Renderer: Gallium 0.4 on ATI RV370 GLX Version: 2.1 Mesa 12.0.6
Audio:     Card Advanced Micro Devices [AMD/ATI] SBx00 Azalia (Intel HDA) driver: snd_hda_intel
           Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture v: k4.4.0-83-generic
Network:   Card: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller driver: r8169
Drives:    HDD Total Size: 2500.5GB (69.5% used) ID-1: /dev/sda model: WDC_WD20EZRX size: 2000.4GB
           ID-2: /dev/sdb model: WDC_WD5000AAKB size: 500.1GB

My suggestion would be to add more ram, as much as your machine can take. My computer could take 4 Gb maximum so that’s what I got.

Good luck akhil.

In my experience, 1GB is the minimum practical requirement for UM, even though it may, in principle, be possible to run it on half of that. The reason being, out of the box, the resting UM DE takes up around 400MB. But, as soon as you try and load a program, that will very quickly shoot up to well over 500MB. Additionally, over the course of a given session, the “resting” UM desktop RAM requirement tends to creep up such that, by the end, of your session, even with no programs running, the UM desktop may be eating up 600 or 700MB

So, in practice, I would always recommend 2GB as a comfortable minimum. With that you will be able to run pretty much anything and shouldn’t suffer hanging or lock-ups. However, even that being said, some of your applications may still run unacceptably slowly, depending on your patience threshold, if you are running UM on a very old machine with a relatively weak processor.

For example, on an old machine, even with 2GB of Ram, streaming internet video will probably not be watch-able due to stuttering and have a huge latency problem with the audio and video going out of sync. But, that will probably be a problem no matter how skinny is your OS, since it is to do with the amount of data being fed by the streaming service, more than anything else.

So, to summarise the above, whether or not you can run UM “successfully” on a very old machine comes down to how powerful is your CPU/GPU, how much RAM you have on board, how patient you are and what other software you intend to use on it.

I should also note, here, that the above problems are not, as many people might suggest, easily solvable by installing a skinnier OS such as, say, Lubuntu (which uses the relatively lightweight LXDE desktop). The reason being that Lubuntu uses about 150MB less Ram than UM. So far so good…right? Well, not really because as soon as you load any significant software, that 150MB you have saved gets lost in the “noise” of the several hundred odd MB, that has just been loaded onto your system by that application.

Don’t get me wrong. Installing a lighter OS than UM can be advantageous. But only if you are also prepared to limit yourself to extremely lightweight applications as well. But, that will not save you when it comes to Web browsing because the load on the system then steps out of the hands of the OS and on-board applications and becomes due to the Website that is delivering the content.

So what would I do with an old machine of the kind you have described?

I would max the RAM out. I would run it with something like Lubuntu and would limit myself to the very lightweight applications that come with Lubuntu as standard. If I was to install any extra applications, I would research them very carefully to ensure they were also lightweight, even if that meant losing some functionality. Finally, I would limit my internet usage to very specific tasks such as email and largely text based websites.


Hmm, thanks so much Steve and Dooley. I would probably check out if I can afford a new PC, instead of risking it on only increasing the RAM. If not, I’ll max out the RAM and check. Thanks for the suggestions :slight_smile: Surprising that an OS gets bloated up over the years and needs stronger resources to smoothly run (comparing 10.04 to 16.04, as an example). Why is that?

They call that progress :wink:

May I suggest that you try lubuntu for your older PC.

I would recommend abandoning MATE if the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) is something you’re willing to work with, which comes with the aforementioned Lubuntu.

Have swap space, then install zswap to improve how swap on disk is handled. This page a bit down explains what it is, and how it may help you.

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Thanks steven and tiox… will look at lubuntu (never used it before), and maybe install it, and will do zswap. Btw, got 2 gigs of RAM for the box, so hopefully things will be better.

If you need any advice in terms of tweaking Lubuntu and themeing it to look and act much as Ubuntu Mate, let me know on here because I have a lot of experience with it installing it on old notepads and laptops

Thanks steve… will let you know if I need any help.

Heads up; new Luuntu might cone with the more weighty LXQT, so you might want to abandon Lubuntu for Xubuntu with the XFCE environment instead,

or do this…:slight_smile:

Is LXQt noticeably heavier on resources compared to LXDE? I have to admit I’m starting to like LXQt more as the development of it continues. I used LXDE as my desktop environment for quite a while.

I’ve test-ran LXQT on both Manjaro and Lubuntu 17.10. At the moment, it is quite a bit heavier. About 50MB to 60MB I would say.

Additionally (though, I readily admit, this is purely personal thing), I find the LXQT interface a bit chunky and “cartoony”, for want of a better description.

Finally, in terms of useage, LXQT feels a lot rougher round the edges compared to LXDE on Lubuntu. Though, the Manjaro version of LXQT is a bit more polished.

I am hopeful this will all improve over time. But, at this moment, I do not feel able to reccomend LXQT over LXDE

I have something quite similar and found that even with 2GB RAM, about all it was good for was word processing and light web browsing (although I admit to having a low “patience threshold”). I finally gave up on it and loaded it up with hard drives and installed Ubuntu 17.04 Server and Webmin. It makes a wonderful file/print server and saves me from having my kids pester me for access to my music files.

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Okay.... I've got an update on Lubuntu LXQT. I have just installed the latest daily build in a VM and it is much improved on the last time I rest ran it about a month ago.

I don't know how they hell the Lubuntu devs have managed it, but lubuntu LXQT is currently running at a tiny 135MB on the RAM. That is better than than Lubuntu on LXDE!

I am seriously impressed with that.

Maybe because they excluded all of the silliness Manjaro packed in their LXQt implementation?

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