Linux was getting fat in 2004 – Now it is obese

“Consider these memory requirements for Fedora Core 2, as specified by Red Hat: Minimum for graphical: 192MB and Recommended for graphical: 256MB Does that sound any alarm bells with you? 192MB minimum?”

In 2004, Microsoft XP ruled, and Windows 98/2000 computers were being retired.
Bob Marr wrote that this could have been an opportunity for Linux to revitalise all those retiring computers. Unfortunately for Linux, it was too bloated to do so.

10 Years later and we are in a similar position again, but not much has changed.

Even some ‘light’ Linux distributions like Lubuntu can not run as speedily as XP on 512 meg of memory. See my previous post,  Ubuntu on XP capable hardware

What has changed in 10 years?
Linux is polished and capable now, and can compete on equal terms with MS Windows.
Including the bloat.

The belief that Linux (was faster) could run on less powerful hardware than MS Windows used to come up a lot in Linux circles, but I do not believe that was ever the case.
Usually, Like was not being compared with like. 
Here is a current example from the Ubuntu minimum specification page as of 2014:

“a good “rule of thumb” is that machines that could run XP, Vista, Windows 7 or x86 OS X will almost always be a lot faster with Ubuntu “

You could try Ubuntu on Vista/7/8 capable hardware, and it would run, but it would not be ” a lot faster”. Try Ubuntu on hardware from the XP era, and it will be slower than XP, not faster.

Here is an older example.
On the change over from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95, a lot of  the hardware in the UK at the time was either 486 or Pentium1, and generally had either 4 or 8 meg of ram.

When the Linux advocates of the day said Linux was a lot faster than Windows, they were comparing Linux on the command line,without X, to the graphically powered Windows 95.
Windows 95 needed 12 meg, and Xwindows on Linux needed 16. 

Going back further still.
My first laptop, an Everex 386 SX25 only had 2 meg of memory.
This laptop had Windows 3.11 GUI, and Borland Turbo C++ development environment with graphical IDE.
This same laptop could not even install and load the command line version of Slackware because Slackware needed 4meg of memory to install. Eventually, I found and used the ‘low mem’ Slackware provided hack, to install.
Imagine my suprise when I discovered that I had installed something that looked a lot like DOS, and could not run a GUI.

These days, Linux has surpassed Windows in many ways, but lower specification hardware requirements is not one of those ways. At least not when talking about the mainstream distributions like Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, Suse etc.

But does it matter? There are a multitude of choices now.

This post was written on a Dell Latitude D630 (2007) with an upgrade to 2Gig of memory, and a solid state hard disk (SSD)
Lubuntu 12.04 is the OS and it is fast. I tried Windows 8 on the same machine, and it ran well, but I could not get on with it.

The full article from Bob written in 2004 is here:

“Consider these memory requirements for Fedora Core 2, as specified by Red Hat: Minimum for graphical: 192MB and Recommended for graphical: 256MB Does that sound any alarm bells with you? 192MB minimum?”

“Now, I’m not saying that modern desktop distros should work on a 286 with 1MB of RAM, or anything like that. I’m just being realistic — they should still run decently on hardware that’s a mere three years old, like my friend’s machine. If he has to buy more RAM, upgrade his CPU or even buy a whole new PC just to run desktop Linux adequately, how are we any better than Microsoft?
Gone are the days when we could advocate Linux as a fast and light OS that gives old machines a new boost.”

“Linux used to be massively more stable than Windows, but XP was a great improvement and meanwhile we have highly bug-ridden Mandrake and Fedora releases. XP also shortened boot time considerably, whereas with Linux it’s just getting longer and longer and longer…”

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