What do I need?
- A computer that meets a distro’s recommended minimum system requirements. The system requirements for successfully installing Linux are surprisingly low. Even a computer built over 10 years ago will happily run many distros.
For Ubuntu 21.04 the recommended minimum is: 2 GHz dual core processor, 4GB RAM (system memory), 25GB hard-drive space, and graphics capable of 1024×768 resolution.
There are distros designed to run with lower requirements that are fully capable of reviving older hardware.
If you want a dedicated machine for Linux (rather than dual booting) but don’t have one spare, there are quite a few options. One option is to purchase a refurbished (mini) PC. Pictured is a refurbished Lenovo M93 Ultra Small PC. This machine’s hardware far exceeds Ubuntu’s recommended minimum system requirements and is available for around £200 / $200. Obviously, the better specified the system you use, the better experience will be.
- USB stick or DVD disc
- There’s the option of running a distro directly from either a USB stick (pictured) or a DVD. It offers a quick and easy way to experience Linux and how it works with your hardware. It doesn’t affect your computer’s configuration.
- But if you’ve decided that Linux is for you, install the distro onto a computer via USB or DVD. We prefer USB installation. If you don’t have a spare USB key available, they are extremely cheap to buy. Don’t buy a USB stick with a distro pre-installed as they are almost always extremely poor value for money. Most distros need a 4GB or larger USB stick/key. Part 3 of this guide shows you how to create a bootable Ubuntu USB stick.
- DVD installation requires a blank DVD-R disc, and you’ll need a machine that has a DVD Writer so that you can burn the distro’s image to the disc.
- Internet Connection
An internet connection is not essential to install a distro although some require internet access to download things like restricted extras. In any event, an internet connection is essential to make sure your computer stays up to date with the latest updates and patches. You’ll miss out on so much of the goodness that Linux bestows without internet connectivity.
In the next article we help you choose a distro.
All articles in this series:
Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.