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Linux's Thickening Waist Line

Jul 22, 2009, 01:33 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Rubens)

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"When it comes to Linux distros, there are plenty of super tiny ones like PuppyLinux and Damn Small Linux that will run on low-powered machines, but some of the more popular distros with fancy GUIs actually consume vast amounts of resources. You can run a minimal Ubuntu installation with a command-line interface on a 486 machine with just 32Mb RAM and 300Mb disk space; Ubuntu server requires just 128MB RAM and 500MB of disk space, but that's still a vast amount of resources compared to the graphically rich Windows 95, which needed a humble 386DX and just 4MB of RAM to run, along with about 50MB hard disk space. An installation CD? Didn't need one! The whole Windows 95 OS could be installed from 13 floppies.

"Once you enter the desktop realm, Ubuntu's Linux gets really rather portly: A full graphical Ubuntu Jaunty installation needs 5Gb of hard drive space and a recommended 512Mb RAM — not so different to Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, which also need 512Mb RAM, although admittedly they consume a heftier 20Gb hard drive space. And it's not just Ubuntu that's got big. OpenSolaris is a OpenSUSE needs 500Mb disk space and a recommended 512Mb RAM, while OpenSolaris needs 10Gb and 512Mb.

"So what's going on. Why are "minimum" and "recommended" install requirements so much bigger today? Are Linux OSes suffering from unnecessary feature creep?"

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