Linux System Requirements

Written by Serena Berger
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Linux was originally designed to run using an Intel 80386 processor. This was the computing standard during nearly all of the early 1990s. Over the last decade, however, computers have gotten much faster and the hardware has improved exponentially. Intel's Pentium chips are in the same family of processors as the 80386 chips, but Linux can now be run using chips from other manufacturers.

Minimum System Requirements for Linux

The minimum requirements to run the Linux Kernel are 4 MB of RAM and a floppy disk drive. Today's programs have much higher requirements in terms of both RAM and disk space. Some applications intended to run in Linux require as little as 32 MB of RAM--also very low by today's standards. If you are purchasing a computer, the default setting is likely to be between 128 MB and 512 MB of RAM. It is unlikely that you will encounter any difficulty running Linux with any such system.

The amount of hard drive space required to install Linux can vary based on which distribution you purchase. A stripped down version of Linux that includes just the operating system can take as little as 10 MB of disk space, while an installation with a graphical user interface (GUI) may take up to 80 MB. If, however, you have purchased a retail distribution of Linux that includes the operating system, GUI similar to the Microsoft Windows desktop, and an office productivity package, it can require in excess of 15 GB of space. With a little searching, you can find hard drives that cost less than a dollar per gigabyte. Most computers sold today will start with between 20 and 40 GB of disk space, and it is inexpensive to purchase additional storage space.

The most complicated part of migrating to a Linux operating system is that your components may not support Linux. You should check the manufacturer websites to see if drivers are available for Linux. If you prefer to avoid the hassle, computers can be purchased with Linux already installed on them.


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