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Thread: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

  1. #1
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    What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    I'm a long time windows user, but I've tried- on several occasions- to switch to Ubuntu, or Mint, or Debian, or various other flavors of Linux. The only reason I don't is proprietary stuff like certain printer drivers, games, and netflix. I tried virtualbox but I hate the fact that I can't get it to utilize all (or atleast most) of my hardware.

    Anyway, the Linux bug has bitten me again, and I'm going to give it another shot and I'm hoping I can stick with it this time around with the help of the forums (feel free to offer persuasive words for the moments I feel less driven). But the above got me thinking: besides the servers who manage LOADS of data, what does the everyday linux user need a powerful machine for? The gaming selection (though I'm aware it's growing) mostly contains quirky little indie games that don't require all that much power. I guess I see the need for it when it comes to photo editing with gimp, but video (which to my understanding is more demanding) doesn't seem to have any real competitors to the high-end power eating monsters like Vegas or FinalCut or Premier. Aside from games and video rendering, I can't think of much more that needs the horsepower of a quad-core overclocked monster or a monstrous graphics card.

    I'm sorry if any of this offended anyone- I know there are plenty of professionals who depend on Ubuntu and Linux and have found very useful tools to aid them in their line of work- I just want to be enlightened.

  2. #2
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    Nov 2011
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    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    You are equating hardware compatibility with "powerful components". They are not the same thing. If software works correctly on your hardware, then the difference between running it on less capable hardware versus more capable hardware is essentially one of speed. You can process a large PSD file in Photoshop on Windows on a 2-meg Celeron from years ago or on a 128-meg machine with multiple Xeons. The difference is that the Celeron machine will swap and swap and grind away for a very, very long time.

    I've found Ubuntu and distributions based on it, like Mint, to be happilly compatible with my hardware. But, then I don't game or watch Netflix. Some printers, especially HP, do require a proprietary driver that is often not installed by default, although they're usually available in the distro's repositories. That's annoying, admittedly.

    Distributions vary in the strictness of their adherence to FOSS ideology, which does affect their ability to use certain hardware "out of the box". Debian, more or less as a matter of belief, doesn't include proprietary drivers. Ubuntu is considerably more relaxed, for a variety of reasons, and is more likely to "just work".

    When you have issues with hardware in Ubuntu, post questions, with specifics, here and I'm sure people will be happy to help. Note that there is a separate "Hardware" forum, too.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2012
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    Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    I run Lubuntu on a machine with 16GB of RAM and an Intel i7, and even though I usually just spend my time browsing the interwebs and playing Minecraft, I sometimes render stuff.

    Rendering uses a lot of CPU, and usually lots of RAM too.
    And when I'm not rendering, I like to have some spare resources so I can multitask, or just leaving stuff open in the background for later use.
    And as you mentioned yourself, GIMP can use some resources too if you're working on some big project.

  4. #4
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    Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    Gimp, Blender, Lightworks, ... all of those are resource hungry when you are doing some big project.
    Playing HD videos or doing 3D stuff, is also much smoother with a "monster" card then without. Just examples..

  5. #5
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    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    Well, if you want to run stock Ubuntu just the interface is going to eat up quite a lot of resources. Unity is pretty heavy and will not run unless your graphics are 3D capable (so no netbooks, etc.). I am using Mint XFCE at the moment, because it is light enough to run well on all my computers (well, the ones I use every day, anyway) and is polished and capable OOTB.

  6. #6
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    Ubuntu Development Release

    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    In three months time the latest version of Ubuntu will be released (13.10). I am already running it on my computer that was put together in 2007 from hardware that was being reduced in price because it was no longer the latest. So, I disagree with your assertion that Linux requires the latest hardware. You must be thinking of Microsoft or Apple products, in which new OS = new machine with even more powerful CPUs and larger amounts of RAM.

    There are two reasons why you do not complain about things not working out the box when it comes to Microsoft or Apple operating systems.

    1) The operating systems are part of the box. All the necessary drivers have been installed by the vendor, who has also done certain optimisations to improve user experience.

    2) Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) have to provide drivers with their products otherwise they cannnot claim that the product has been accredited by Microsoft to work on its OS. And people would not buy it.

    The Linux user relies on the Linux developers to provide the drivers. These developers are more likely than not to be volunteers and they rarely get cooperation from OEMs to assist them in writing drivers.

    The point was reached years ago when the hardware was more than enough for the needs of ordinary users but with every increase in power the Microsoft OS would take it all up and demand more. And now we have mobile phones that are as powerful, if not more so, than desktop hardware. And even now Ubuntu is being ported to such phones. And it is not a stripped down phone Ubuntu but a Ubuntu that will run as a PC when the phone is plugged into a monitor.

    That is enough light for today, I think.
    Last edited by grahammechanical; August 15th, 2013 at 01:04 PM.
    It is a machine. It is more stupid than we are. It will not stop us from doing stupid things.
    Ubuntu user #33,200. Linux user #530,530


  7. #7
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    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    Its not really a need.Everyone just has certain hardware requirements.
    Me I wanted the most bang for my buck and what I got is a pretty powerful setup with my Hex core processor and 1TB hard drive.
    The only thing I want to do is up my memory up to 8 from 4 but that is entirely optional as is getting a new graphics card.
    As for trying linux again its a good time to do so, with steam you can get some games and you can see if the netflix work around will work for you.
    But if you are trying to replace windows where that is where your issue lays.
    Linux should compliment windows for people like you who want to get some things done that cant be done in linux.
    This way if something goes wrong in your windows you can have something to fall back on.

  8. #8
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    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    We shouldn't pay much attention to "heavy" versus "light" claims unless those assertions are accompanied by actual test results derived in a controlled environment. You can measure how much memory software takes and you can measure how long software takes to accomplish something. Yet, we seldom see any actual numbers.

    Software expands as hardware capacity expands. You can make the code do more. Developers, commercial and FOSS, add new capabilities to software because it's a competitive discipline and because it's what they do: develop. Some users like the new features. Other's don't, and call it bloat.

  9. #9
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    Jun 2011
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    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    My optics simulations will some times use 100's of gigs of ram and many many cores apart from that not many applications require more than a desktop.

  10. #10
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    Kubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: What does (any flavor) Linux need powerful components for?

    The everyday Linux user doesnt need a monster machine. But for some things, its nice. Ill use myself as an example. I have two machines, on opposite ends of the hardware spectrum.

    My first machine is a 10 year old Sony laptop with 256 mb of RAM, a Pentium III 900 MHz processor, and 16 GB of hard disk space. I have Crunchbang installed on it and for ordinary every day use its actually ok. I can surf the web, use lightweight office programs, and watch videos. I can play small games on it, but there is a lot of lag at times. Also, using more than one program at a time cripples the system.

    My second machine is a desktop I built myself a couple years ago. Its not top of the line, but its a fairly good system. I have 8 GB of RAM, an Intel i5 3.10GHz processor, close to 3 TB of disk space, and a dedicated graphics card. I have Kubuntu on this system with all sorts of eye candy. I can use pretty much any program out there without it lagging my system at all. I can play games without issue, watch HD videos, and have a dozen programs going at once. On this system, Im pretty much free to do what I want which is worth all the money I paid to build it.

    So, do you need a heavy weight machine to do everyday stuff in Linux? No. However, if you want to run modern programs (Gimp, Steam, even LibreOffice is kind of resource heavy), want to play anything but simple indie games, and want a modern good looking DE youll need a bit more computing power. Somewhere in the middle would be ideal for an ordinary user.

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