Balsa Hardware Requirements

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The question, "What hardware does Balsa require?" has not been investigated thoroughly. However, Balsa has run a variety of hardware platforms and we can give some tentative answers to that question.

Rough Guidelines

Here are some rough guidelines for minimal requirements of a Balsa system.

  • SD card: 4 Gigabytes
  • RAM: 512 Megabytes
  • CPU: Intel processor at 700Mhz -- this is a rough estimate
  • Screen Size: 800x480 (AdaptIt requires 800x600)
  • Host hard drive: At least 1 Gigabyte available space.

More detail for each of these follows.

SD Card

Balsa now requires a 4 Gigabyte SD card. The current Lucid build takes about 3.2 Gigabytes, so it is probably near capacity.

The Balsa configuration and data files are not stored on the SD card. In future this will probably change. We plan to change Balsa that so that the SD card will also contain a copy of the user's data. When this happens, a larger card would be necessary.

On the other hand, the Balsa build contains software, fonts and documentation that could be removed. This would reduce the required size, mitigating the need for a larger card.

Some applications, for example, Audacity with large sound files or Firefox with large downloads, may create large temporary files. With the current Balsa configuration, these would be put on the SD card, and it could run out of room.


The Xubuntu operating system that Balsa is based on has modest requirements, something like 256M of memory.

Individual applications inside Balsa will require more. Editing a huge file in Audacity can chew up a large amount of memory.

I have loaded Balsa and run Bibledit on a Asus netbook with a only 512M of memory. I haven't tried, but would not want to try to edit a 1 hour sound file in Audacity on that computer.


Balsa must run on an Intel/AMD processor.

With regard to processor speed, this will frequently be a matter of taste. Some people can live with slow systems. Anything slower than 600 to 700Mhz would probably be too slow.

Screen Size

Balsa itself has been run on screens as small as that of the Asus Eeepc 701 (800x480).

AdaptIt needs a screen at least 600 pixels high. Other programs, particularly those with multiple windows may need a larger screen for ease of use reasons if not as a requirement of the software.

Balsa can run on an external display if the internal display is too small.

Hard Disk Space

Running on a Windows host system, Balsa creates a file that contains the users data and configuration files. The default size for this is 1 Gigabyte.

On a Linux host system, the user files take only as much space as needed for the files themselves.

The comments about large files in the section about the Balsa SD card apply here as well.