Considering downloading Ubuntu 20.04 but need to know the system requirements? In this article, we'll go over the minimum recommended system requirements for running Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. Whether you want to install it on a PC or as a virtual machine, we'll help you make sure you have the required hardware.

Ubuntu is an inherently lightweight operating system, capable of running on some pretty outdated hardware. Canonical (the developers of Ubuntu) even claims that, generally, a machine that can run Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, or x86 OS X can run Ubuntu 20.04 perfectly fine. Let's take a closer look at the hardware requirements below.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • System requirements for Ubuntu 20.04 Desktop
  • System requirements for virtualized Ubuntu 20.04 Desktop
  • System requirements for Ubuntu 20.04 Server
  • Lightweight GUI alternatives to GNOME
Ubuntu 20.04 System Requirements
Ubuntu 20.04 System Requirements
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Ubuntu 20.04
Software N/A
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Ubuntu 20.04 system requirements


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Ubuntu Desktop Edition

Here's what Canonical lists as the recommended minimum system requirements for installing the desktop edition of Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa (source). Keep in mind that this pertains to physical installs. Virtualized installs can actually get by with less.

  • 2 GHz dual core processor
  • 4 GiB RAM (system memory)
  • 25 GB of hard drive space (or USB stick, memory card or external drive but see LiveCD for an alternative approach)
  • VGA capable of 1024x768 screen resolution
  • Either a CD/DVD drive or a USB port for the installer media
  • Internet access is helpful
System specs on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa
System specs on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa

Virtualized Ubuntu Desktop Edition

If you're installing Ubuntu 20.04 into a virtual environment, Canonical says that your system only needs 2 GiB RAM in order to run comfortably. Their page doesn't mention CPU or storage requirements, but here at Linuxconfig we work with virtualized Ubuntu on a daily basis and feel like these are good minimums for installing Ubuntu 20.04 (desktop edition) on a virtual machine:

  • 2 GHz single core processor
  • 2 GiB RAM (system memory)
  • 10 GB of hard drive space
WARNING
VirtualBox and other virtualization software often recommend 1 GiB of RAM for Ubuntu installs. Based on my own experience, I strongly advise that you use a minimum of 2 instead, as it leads to a far less frustrating experience.

Ubuntu Server Edition



The big difference between the server edition of Ubuntu and the desktop version is that the server edition doesn't come with a graphical interface and the installation process itself is a bit different.

Since everything on a Ubuntu 20.04 server is done by the command line, the lack of a GUI and its many dependencies means that the minimum system requirements are far lower. Canonical recommends the following for its server edition of Ubuntu (source):

  • 1 GHz CPU
  • 512 MB RAM (system memory)
  • 2.5 GB hard drive

Lightweight GUI alternatives

The default desktop environment in Ubuntu 20.04 is GNOME. It runs fine on the vast majority of hardware, but if you're working with a particularly low-spec computer or virtual environment, you can use a different desktop interface that has been optimized to use less system resources than GNOME does.

The recommendation is Xubuntu for a medium-lightweight desktop system, or the even more lightweight Lubuntu. Both of these desktop environments will use less system resources than GNOME. They also look a little different, and some users prefer them even if their system can run GNOME just fine.

Conclusion

Ubuntu's low system requirements means that nearly anyone can run it, as lack of hardware power is rarely an obstacle. And even for those with a staggeringly old PC or a deprived virtual environment, ditching the default Ubuntu deskop edition for the server edition or GUI alternatives should help you manage to get the operating system running smoothly.

In this article, we covered the minimum system requirements for both the desktop edition and server edition of Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. We also touched on the requirements for a virtualized Ubuntu 20.04, as well as some lightweight GUI alternatives for particularly low-spec systems.

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