Thursday, June 07, 2012

Rethinking Ubuntu's ISO image size

With Ubuntu 12.04, we've officially broken the 700MB CD size limit. Ubuntu used to be guaranteed to come in a single CD. Now, we're required to use a USB key or burn onto a DVD instead.

It's inevitable seeing how things tend to grow in size over time. We can't expect to stay with a 700MB limit forever. It was fun while it lasted.

But it does make life a tad less convenient. USB keys can have their contents corrupted. DVDs seem like such a waste of 4GB of space.

And here we have a blueprint to reduce the number of desktop images (to just 1, if possible). Yet, the proposed limit is a strange 800MB. And to drop the DVD image. Why not just make 4GB the new limit while we're at it?

4GB is FAT32's filesize limit and it fits a DVD with still plenty of room to spare. USB keys larger than 4GB are plenty and inexpensive nowadays, too. It seems the next reasonable size limit after 700MB.

If the point is to reduce the total number of images then 4GB should give more room for fitting packages for various architectures together (amd64, i386, maybe ARM?).

Well, we'll see when October comes and Ubuntu 12.10 is finally available for the masses.


  1. I think they will add some mb every half year. This makes sense for me because if you don't have a dvddrive then you can use 12.04 and with the extra mbs every iteration of ubuntu we are at 1.1 (or more gb) when 14.04 arrives. That is enough space to put everything in it and is absolutely okay (many more people will have dvd drives in 2014 and the speed of the internet in nonindustrycountries may be better. And if you dont have it: Use 12.04 and uprgade o stay with it for the next 5 years. Fits on a 700mb cd and is supported til 2017. Neat.

  2. No, it isn't.

    1. To specify: Of course it is around 730 mb. But a 700 mb Compact Disc can be filled up with more than 700 mb (which is caused by physics)

      A CD can be filles with 703 Mib (Mebibyte) which is arround 737 Mb (Megabyte).

      A Mebibyte is 1x1024 Byte. A Megabyte is 1x1000 Byte which causes the confusion.

      You can see a table in the German Wikipedia. Unfortunately the Englisch Wikipedia doesn't contain this table.

    2. Thanks for pointing it out Marco. I didn't realise Nautilus changed the way it showed file sizes. If they had used MiB instead of maintaining MB I'd have realised sooner :)

      Thanks for pointing out my mistake.