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I've got a very old laptop (Sempron 2800+ w/ 768MB RAM and SLOW disk).

I'm using Ubuntu 9.04, which seems to work okay (although a bit slow) when I have 1-2 things open. However, it quickly gets so slow as to be unusable if I open much more than that.

Is there anything non-essential that can be disabled in order to lower the resources being used by Ubuntu?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

To add to John T's answer, Xubuntu is a distribution of Ubuntu designed for less powerful computers. It uses the Xfce window manager.

More info at

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This can be done without requiring and entire new distro installation – John T Jul 29 '09 at 3:46
Yes. Good option for people who haven't installed yet, or who don't feel confident mucking around with X. – Richard Hoskins Jul 29 '09 at 4:01
To explain John T's comment: Once you have ubuntu installed, you can install the xubuntu-desktop metapackage which will install xfce and everything else you need. At the login prompt, you'll have the option to login using Gnome or Xfce. – DaveParillo Nov 25 '09 at 0:39

Have you considered using a lightweight window manager on top of X as opposed to the full Gnome desktop environment that comes default? This can use a lot less memory.

Most of the *Box variants are very lightweight. BlackBox, OpenBox and FluxBox come to mind. XFCE is also fairly lightweight.

The desktop environment that comes with Ubuntu by default is called Gnome, it isn't exactly the best for memory use. Using just a lightweight window manager on top of X ( doesn't have to look bad either, here's a picture of Openbox:


Gnome has a lot of features that you may not need and a lot of eye candy, especially with compiz. If you don't need this I think you'd like a small window manager.

This guide will get you up and running with a low memory environment on Ubuntu.

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Could you elaborate? – TM. Jul 29 '09 at 3:21
+1 - good link on Low Memory installs – DaveParillo Nov 25 '09 at 0:42
fvwm2 or xmonad or awesome would be good choices as well. – Sardathrion Aug 30 '11 at 14:06

Seems to almost be recommended already, but I'd say just start with a light weight distro in the first place.

I think crunchbang linux crunchbanglinux [dot] org is a lightweight Ubuntu based distro.

Damn Small Linux (aka DSL) "is a very versatile 50MB mini desktop oriented Linux distribution." damnsmalllinux [DOT] org IIRC

Puppy Linux is also small light weight distro puppylinux [DOT] org/main/index.php

You could also check out they have a list of dang near every Linux distro out there, including a brief description and the packages available in the distro.

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crunchbang is a very lean ubuntu based distro. I think this answer might have gotten more attention if you hadn't mentioned DSL & Puppy. Fine distros, but they have nothing to do with the question. – DaveParillo Nov 25 '09 at 0:42

If you still want to stick to Ubuntu 11.04, then you can disable some of the services and startup process. For Ex, I run Ubuntu 11.04 on HP Mini and I don't use BlueTooth and therefore I disabled it. I use BUM (Bootup Manager) to enable/disable services and "StartUp Manager" to enable/disable applications at Startup. (1) has the purpose of the different services which are visible in BUM.

(1) -

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