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My classmates suggested that I increase the memory of my Ubuntu 10.04 from 2GB to 8GB. I have a Nvidia FX 570 (256MB). Here are my question.

  1. What does having a higher memory does in general?
  2. Can I use some of the 8GB memory for my video card to use so that it can go up to 1GB?

Thanks in advance.

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I edited your title to make it more clear and also added the Ubuntu tag. –  Sasha Chedygov Oct 30 '10 at 6:19
    
Increase for what? Sure 32GB of ram would be nice but is it really needed for your computer's usage scenarios? –  Chris Oct 30 '10 at 6:25

5 Answers 5

Memory is just space for applications to store data while they are running. Reading and writing off the hard drive is very slow, so programs use memory for data that they will need to access often. The more memory you have, the more applications you can have open at one time before they start defaulting to the hard drive. In other words, the more memory you have, the faster your applications will run when you have more open at once. In most cases you cannot share memory with your video card - it usually only applies to on-board video.

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2gb is perfectly fine for most normal use of a OS like ubuntu.

i have 2gb on a relatively old macbook running arch linux and it is perfectly fine for playing videos, compiling kernels, etc.

you can run a utility like top or free to see how much memory you are really using, so you don't just have to guess about it.

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Ubuntu will run comfortably on 768MiB of RAM - that's how much I'm using. 2GB is plenty –  Broam Oct 30 '10 at 5:44

To answer your second question:

Discrete video cards (the kind you can swap out) do not use system RAM, so No.

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The reason more memory usually gives better performance is swapping--if you run out of available RAM, your operating system will start using your hard drive for memory, which is incredibly slow compared to RAM. Having more memory will decrease your chances of ever running out. However, unless you're doing some serious memory-hungry work, 8GB is way too much for an Ubuntu machine. 2GB should be fine for day-to-day use, but you can upgrade to 4GB if you really feel like you need more. What do you use the computer for?

As for your second question, no, your graphics card cannot use that RAM as its own.

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It depends on what you are using your machine for and what version of Ubuntu 10.04 you use.

Is it the 32 Bit Version? Then you can't break the 4GB barrier (see: my response here). Is it the 64Bit version: Then you CAN add more ram. But do you need it?

If you are using your machine for surfing, office, etc: I don't think you need more RAM. You are manipulating complex graphics, you develop software, you are running games: MAybe you should upgrade.

Why upgrading does help in general was already written down here a few times (run more (background-)apps at the same time, single apps can work with more data without swapping). You should also consider, that modern OSes (like Linux) use unused RAM to cache data for faster disk access.

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