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Work have issued us all laptops - which is great but it has Windows 7 installed on it with McAfee hard disk encryption for security/insurance reasons.

I use Ubuntu on my workstation although the IT department say that I cannot install Ubuntu as the primary OS on my laptop as they "don't support it".. which seems strange as I am using it on my desktop machine.

The laptop only has 4gb of memory, so running it as a virtual machine is not really a viable option. I allocated the VM 2gb of memory, yet unity seems quite heavy and when I have Chrome and few other programs open it just isn't enough memory to be practical.

I have also tried installing Ubuntu on another partition, but after installation McAfee won't then allow me to boot into it.

So, my questions are:

1) Is there a Linux distribution (Debain or Red Hat based) that would work well using only 2gb RAM.

2) Is there a way to partition and boot into another OS on a machine that has McAfee Endpoint Encryption installed on it?

3) Why do some IT teams forcefully insist that we use Windows when it is pretty much unusable for the job?

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closed as off topic by Sven, Jenny D, Dan, Dave M, Ward Apr 29 '13 at 13:47

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

1) You bet there are such distributions, people manage to run Linux on 8-bit microcomputers, so there is plenty of options. Usually the heavy load on user systems lies on desktop environment and/or window manager.

  • You wrote about unity, so I presume you are an Ubuntu person. There are some pretty lightweight GUIs out there so I'd recommend Lubuntu or Xubuntu. Don't know about Lubuntu, but Xubuntu runs on XFCE which is pretty neat and easily-configured.
  • I use Ubuntu on my workplace as well (hiya, stability!) but I prefer tiled window managers, like Awesome or DWM, they are not as easily configured but you may like the looks. Also, lightweight like a feather.
  • If you'd really like to try a lightweight Linux distro, try Puppy Linux, Arch or Crunchbang although you may need some skill to configure them correctly. Crunchbang is Debian-based though and works on OpenBox WM so it may be worth a try.

EDIT: Forgot about OpenBox and FluxBox window managers, they are very lightweight (and windows-like) but you'll have to configure everything by writing configs

2) I suppose you can configure the boot with GRUB in any situation, but I really have no idea how deep McAfee is sitting so I may be wrong

3) Because support. Actually that sounds strange if they support your Ubuntu desktops. Anyhow I don't think there would be any trouble if you use an OS of your choice it's just that you will have to take full responsibility if you fail to do your job because of the problems with the OS (that you'll have to fix yourself, naturally).

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  1. It depends from what do you want to do. (For text editing and surfing it seems be enough). Also you should take into account other parameters.
  2. I think no. You may decrypt it make all changes and then encrypt hdd.
  3. Maybe it's part of information policy in your company?
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