The MacValley blog


Welcome to the MacValley blog, your first stop for all the latest MacValley news and views.


Tom Briant

The MacValley blog

Editor: Tom Briant


Click here to email Tom

Click here for Tom's profile



To search the blog posts please use the box below

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Basic Questions about Linux

While shopping at Frys Electronics today, I stopped by the newsstand section and looked at a Linux magazine. A fellow customer asked me if I used Linux. Yes, I do. Could you use it with an older HP computer? Well, I had some questions for him at that point…

What about Linux? Can the owner of an older PC use it on his machine? It all depends….

First of all, what do you want to use Linux for? If you want to set up an older PC for word processing, Web surfing, and e-mail; then a wide variety of older hardware and Linux distributions (distress) will meet your needs.

To begin with, let’s discuss six pieces of hardware: Your hard drive, your installed RAM memory, your processor chip, your graphics capability, and your Internet connection.

How big is your PC’s hard drive? You’ll need at least 5 Gb dedicated to the Linux software itself.

How much RAM memory do you have? Depending on the distribution, Linux will work with as little as 64 Gb of memory, but you’ll probably want more. I’d say get at least 1 Gb of RAM. If you can, put as much memory into your machine as it will take. Linux and OS X, both UNIX-based operating systems, will gobble up as much memory as you can feed it.

What about your CPU? How fast is it? If you want to run Ubuntu Linux, you’ll need at least a 700 Mhz processor, in my opinion and preferable 1 Ghz or faster. As a rule of thumb; if the computer ran Windows XP, it should run some version of Linux.

How good is your computer’s graphics? Some Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, have fancy graphic interfaces that may overwhelm your computer’s graphics. Fortunately, you can get a distribution such as Lubuntu (derived from Ubuntu) which uses the LXDE graphics interface.

Finally, what about your Internet connection? Whether you have Windows, OS X, or Linux; they all depend on an Internet connection to download upgrades to the operating system. You should have a broad-band connection to the Internet. If you have AT&T U-Verse like I do, you have broad-band internet. If you have Verizon FIOS, you have broad-band internet. If you get your internet from your cable company, such as Charter or Time-Warner; you have broad-band Internet.

How to test out various Linux distributions.

If you haven’t tried Linux before, try a live CD before committing to a hard disk installation. Ubuntu runs from a CD and you can get it at You could also try out Lubuntu, a Ubuntu community derivative, at

If your machine is older, you could try out these two distributions; and


You can download a disk image of many Linux distributions as .iso files. You can use OS X’s Disk Utility to burn this to a CD or DVD.

To burn a CD or DVD, you use the Burn… command under the Images menu of Disk Utility. Select your disk image file. Disk Utility will then go to the CD or DVD drive that burns disks for you. Insert the blank disk and away you go.

And, of course, you can always head to the newsstand section at Fry’s Electronics for a Linux magazine with recent Linux distributions on disk.

No comments:

Post a Comment



Blog Archive