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Computer Requirements and Recommendations

The UC San Diego Bookstore works closely with ResNet to find great deals for students on computers and network equipment.

You will need an up-to-date computer to make full use of your ResNet connection. See below for our current requirements and recommendations for each computer operatating system.

Alert!

Windows XP will be reaching end of life on April 8th, 2014. Because the machines will no longer be kept up to date, they will no longer be allowed on the UCSD network. Please update to a more current operating system if you are currently running Windows XP.
  1. Windows
  2. Apple
  3. Linux/Unix

Minimum Windows Computer Requirements 2013-2014

Below are the minimum required specifications for any Windows computer to be used on the network. It is not recommended to use a computer on campus under these specifications.

NOTE: Computers that do not meet the minimum requirements will receive limited support.

  • Intel Pentium Dual Core or AMD A4
  • 1 GB RAM (2 GB recommended)
  • Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 or newer, fully updated
  • 10/100 Fast Ethernet adapter
  • 40 GB hard drive with at least 15% free space
  • Current firewall program
  • Current anti-virus software package
  • Current Internet web browser
    * Devices using wireless standard 802.11b are incompatible with the wireless network.

Recommended Computer Specifications 2013-2014

Recommendations for students who intend to keep a computer for four years without a major upgrade:

Desktop Computer Laptop Computer
Monitor 24 inch LCD Personal Preference
Operating System Windows 7/8, 64-bit, Home Premium or higher, fully updated with firewall enabled Windows 7/8, 64-bit, Home Premium or higher, fully updated with firewall enabled
Processor/CPU Current generation Intel Core i5 (2.66 GHz, Quad Core) or AMD APU 8-3500M Current generation Intel Core i5 (2.4 Ghz, Dual Core) or AMD APU 8-3500M
Graphics/GPU AMD Radeon HD 6870 or Nvidia GTX 560 or higher Integrated graphics
RAM 8 GB 8 GB
Hard Drive 1 TB, or 256 GB solid state drive (SSD) with external hard drive 750 GB Traditional Hard Drive or 180 GB Solid State Drive* w/ External Hard Drive
Networking Hardware 10/100/1000 Ethernet adapter 10/100/1000 Ethernet, 802.11 G/N
Software Current Microsoft Office Suite and current Anti-virus Software Package Current Microsoft Office Suite and current Anti-virus Software Package

*A solid state drive is a hard drive that does not use "traditional" hard drive technology of recording data on magnetic disks, meaning it has no moving parts. This makes them more reliable, faster, and less prone to data loss from dropping / carrying a laptop around. The downside is solid state technology is still more expensive than "traditional" hard drive technology, and space is still a limiting factor. If a solid state drive is purchased, we recommend also purchasing an external hard drive for data storage. 

Windows Service Packs

What is a Service Pack?

Microsoft Windows Service Pack is the latest collection of critical operating system updates and security patches for your computer. It can include new security features such as the Windows Firewall upgrades, increasing the stability or removing vulnerabilities in the operating system. A complete list of new features is available on their website for each Service Pack

Why should I install it?

If you are running Windows operating system on your computer, Service Packs are required to be installed.The ResNet Acceptable Use Policy requires that you keep your operating system updated. Service Packs enhances your computer's security by patching a number of security vulnerabilities in the operating system. There are also numerous improvements to the operating system itself, including wireless support, Internet Explorer download monitoring and privacy features.

What should I do before I install a Service Pack?

  1. Make sure your anti-virus software is updated, and scan and clean your computer of any viruses.
  2. Use Malwarebytes (make sure it is updated) and Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) to clean your computer of any spyware.
  3. Make sure all the software on your computer has the latest updates.
  4. Check your computer manufacturer's website for information about the Service Pack.
  5. Make sure your computer hardware has all the latest drivers. For more information on drivers, check here.

Contact ResNet if you have questions or need help.

Where can I get the Service Packs?

You can download it from Microsoft Windows Update, or you can come by the ResNet office during our phone support hours to pick up a CD. Bring a Photo ID (student ID, driver's license) to check out a copy.

Minimum Mac Requirements 2013-2014

Below are the minimum required specifications for any Macintosh computer to be used on the network. It is not recommended to use a computer on campus under these specifications.

NOTE: Computers that do not meet the minimum requirements will receive limited support.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 1 GB (2 GB Recommended)
  • 40 GB hard drive with at least 15% free space
  • OS 10.6 or higher with the latest software updates
  • Ethernet adapter (we strongly recommend purchasing an Ethernet adapter if you have a MacBook Air/MacBook Pro with Retina Display; wireless is not guaranteed to work in your individual dorm room)
  • Current firewall program
  • Current anti-virus software package
  • Current Internet Web browser 
    * Devices using wireless standard 802.11b are incompatible with the wireless network.

Recommended Mac Computers 2013-2014

For students who intend to keep a computer for four years without a major upgrade:

Desktop Computer Laptop Computer
Computer 21.5" iMac with 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 processor MacBook Pro 13",15" (Personal preference)
Operating System OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), fully updated with firewall enabled OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), fully updated with firewall enabled
RAM 8 GB  8 GB 
Hard Drive 1 TB 750 GB
Networking Hardware 10/100/1000 Ethernet adapter 10/100/1000, 802.11 G/N
Software Current Microsoft Office Suite and anti-virus software package Current Microsoft Office Suite and anti-virus software package

MacBook Pro (with Retina Display) Information

Apple also offers the MacBook Pro with its high-resolution technology called “Retina.” This increases its native resolution to 2560 x 1600 on the 13-inch and 2880 x 1800 on the 15-inch. This can be compared to the native resolutions for the regular MacBook Pro which is 1280 x 800 on the 13-inch and 1440 x 900 on the 15-inch.

*NOTE*: For users who purchase the Macbook Pro with Retina display - please keep in mind that the RAM is NOT upgradeable in the future. We recommend maximizing the amout of memory offered by Apple upon purchase. 

If you choose to install a Linux/Unix based operating system, you should be aware of the risks and benefits.

Important Considerations

  • Beyond the information on this page, ResNet only offers limited support for these systems.
  • Intrusion into multi-user operating systems is common and may result in your computer violating our Acceptable Use Policy. You will be held responsible if this occurs, even if you had no knowledge of the intrusion.
  • Because it will not be accessible from off-campus locations, hosting a web page or other service on your computer will not be possible.
  • You are responsible for not violating the Acceptable Use Policy if you provide services on your computer.

Minimum Hardware Requirements

There are no minimum hardware requirements for running Linux / Unix. If you can get it to run, congratulations!

Minimum Software Requirements

You must ensure that the operating system and all software is kept up to date. Security updates come out for most Linux distributions daily. It is your responsibility to stay on top of these updates to ensure conformance with the Acceptable Use Policy and, more importantly, to keep your machine from getting broken into.

Some of the most common pitfalls of Linux machines are configurations that have been overlooked. A few things to watch out for are:

  • SMTP server running on port 25 (ex. Postfix, Exim, Sendmail)
  • SSH allowing version 1 connections (only version 2 should be allowed)
  • FTP (port 21) or Telnet (port 23) services running

Additionally, you must configure your firewall (IPTables) to prevent unwanted connections.

Linux Recommendations

Linux is available in many different "flavors" known as "distros". A few of the most popular ones are:

Ubuntu Linux
Ubuntu has been hailed eWeek as the most popular Linux distros today. It is the easiest to install and use for first-time Linux users, but versatile enough for pro-users as well. Recommended for beginner to advanced Linux users.

Linux Mint

A build of Ubuntu making use of a clean user interface, Linux Mint is the 4th most-widely used operating system behind Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu. Mint makes use of a more traditional user interface that PC switchers may find useful.

Gentoo Linux
Gentoo throws you head first into Linux knowledge by having you build your system from the ground up. Recommended for intermediate to advanced Linux users that want to learn a lot and run a very customized operating system.

Debian Linux
One of the longest running distributions, Debian is still under active development, but releases more slowly than other Linux distros. It tends to be used for servers, rather than desktops.

SUSE Enterprise Linux
The commercial version of Linux from Novell. You have to pay for it, but unlike many others it comes with support.

openSUSE
The open source (and free) version of SUSE from Novell.

Mandriva Linux
Another commercial Linux distribution that comes with support. Recommended for Linux beginners.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux
The commercial version of Linux from Red Hat. You have to pay for it, but it comes with support.

Fedora Project
A Red Hat-Sponsored Community Project.

Unix Recommendations

The most common Unix variant (aside from Linux) is BSD, developed at UC Berkeley. The most popular open source distributions of BSD are: