Ubuntu 14.04 LiveCD Memory Usage Compared

memoryusagegraph

I did a comparison when 14.04 was first released on the memory usage of different Ubuntu flavors.   Some takeaways:

  • Lubuntu has zRam (automatically compress memory to save space) enabled by default making it hands down the most usable version with low-memory.  It's the only flavor to have it enabled on the LiveCD.
  • The real cost of 64 vs 32 bit is usually only 128 MB.
  • Lubuntu (32-bit) still boots with just 160 MB of RAM!
  • The Ubuntu kernel can't boot with only 128 MB of RAM.
All testing was done in virtual machines (Virtualbox) and obviously with different hardware you're results will vary.   You can infer some of my methodology from the notes below.   This was done months ago and I don't remember all of the details.  The results may have changed with software updates, especially to Firefox.

Spreadsheet

Raw testing notes

Help people move to L/Ubuntu from Windows XP!

In preparation for the Cherry Hill Library's XP to Linux Installfest I made a website, presentation and worksheet.

InstallFestPresentation Introduces Ubuntu and Lubuntu for non-technical users and also how today's installfest will work.

InstallFestWorksheet A place for the user to write down what they use their computer for.   And a place for the installfest helpers to write down what works/doesn't in the LiveCD test.

Items mentioned in the worksheet: The liability release is specific to this Installfest.   As for the survey mentioned, I'm very curious just how many non-pae machines or 32 x86 machines there are still in the wild.

Let me know what you think and feel free to modify/use/whatever.  (If you need a license consider the docs under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License).

Survey Results

Results from my survey on 64 bit vs 32 bit usage on Unity.    The raw survey results are also available.  Feel free to do your own analysis.

Format:  # of machines - information about them..

Out of the 32 bit only machines:

4 - that are likely 32 bit only, but didn't provide enough information to confirm 1 - doesn't work so well, old savage card, 700 MB of RAM, Ubuntu 12.04 (so 2d only)

*Remaining 14 32 bit only machines: 5 - with 1 GB of ram 9 - with 1.5 GB of ram or more

Ubuntu Version: 6 - 13.04 1 - 12.10 7 - 12.04

Processor: 7 - Intel Atom

From comments, 3 of these 32 bit only users find Unity slow, but usable. (All three are Atom N270/N280)

64 bit capable but:

2 - that should be 64 capable (and the users know this), but it doesn't work..  If this is you, please file a bug! 2 - have 64 bit capable machines (and 2GB of ram) and don't actually know it. 5 - have 64 bit capable machines, but run 32 bit Ubuntu (1 with 1 GB of RAM who mentions that the dash is slow)

Other scenarios:

1 - machine stuck at 12.04 because 12.10 requires PAE (is this true?) 1 - Parallels VM that has better performance on 32 bit from user 2 - that actually use other desktop environments cause they find Unity unusable ("Unity is unuseable because i only have 1 GIG Ram")

Not particularly relevant:

1 - let's not discuss this again... 1  - armv7 :) 9 - users who have 64 bit machines that work fine and responded anyway.. 1 - running Unity on servers...

Conclusion?

For some reason whenever I do a survey I expect that the results will clearly paint the way to go forward.   They almost never do, but they can be used to start discussions.  I'm particularly concerned about the 2 users with 64 bit capable machines which they can't get to run 64 bit.

Some people have 64 bit machines with low RAM and would also be better served with a lighter option.  Others have quite beefy 32 bit machines with 4GB of RAM and a nice video card that can rock Unity.   Also some motherboard manufacturers disabled 64 bit support even though the processor supported it...  awesome.

To default to 32 or 64 bit when downloading Ubuntu?

Given the data, I think we can make a better exception case for 32 bit now..  Right now,  it says: "If you have a PC with the Windows 8 logo or UEFI firmware, choose the 64-bit download. Read more I think it's easier for most people to see and understand: "If you have a 5+ year old PC,  a 3+ year old netbook, or 1 GB of ram choose the 32 bit version." *

Thoughts?

  • Theoretically we could even provide instructions for our users to figure this out.  Add a "Not sure?" in that case.

Running Ubuntu/Unity on a machine that is not 64 bit capable?

I have a theory and I would like your help to disprove it (like all good science, aim to disprove it first).

The basic theory is that there are very few computers in one of these groups that is also not in the other:

  • 64 Bit Capable hardware
  • Machines that can run Ubuntu/Unity
Or in other words:  If you can run Ubuntu with Unity you almost definitely have 64 bit capable hardware. And, if you have 64 bit hardware you can run Ubuntu with Unity.

Help prove me wrong!  Answer the following questions (only submit if you answer yes to either):

If you can't see the form below, click here.