At the Blackpool LUG / Maker space last Saturday we decided install Ubuntu 14.04 on different specification hardware, the recommended minimum specification can be found here: http://aq.be/047dcb
As expected with the minimum specification the unity desktop would not install but more surprisingly neither would the the Lubuntu re-spin which is recommended for older hardware. Also a system with the minimum recommended to run Unity installed it ran dog slow but in hindsight this was probably due to the graphics card not being up to specification to run the more resource heavy DTE.
On a Dual core laptop the install was flawless and so was the user experience after install (if you like the Unity DTE that is, I'm not a fan but that is personal preference). One niggle was that despite ticking the box to download updates during the install and being connected to the internet this was not done, and updates were required post install.
Having done this at the LUG I decided to see what 14.04 would feel like on my old ACER Aspire ONE net-book circa 2008 Specification:
CPU, Atom 1.6Gig single core with hyper threding
HDD, 8Gig SSD
Graphics - Intel GMA 950
The instillation went OK and took about 35 minutes to complete I then took out the swap partition, on such a small SSD this was eating up much needed space and also older SSD's are less robust with write cycles and constant writing on the swap can lead to problems with the drive.
Again the system said it needed to install updates despite my ticking the said box on install (minor niggle) on first booting up the system is using about 206mb RAM and about 9% of CPU capacity, it opened a new LibreOffice document in 5 seconds which while not lightning fast is very workable.
I then opened Fire Fox and navigated to UTube to test a video. as you would expect running at higher resolutions were problematic due to the limited Graphics of the Net-Book but I was able to run a music video at 144p in full screen which while not fantastic was viewable so no problem there.
Other things online such as e-mail and documents are a little slow but I put that down to the hardware and not Ubuntu. Would I recommend 14.04 to users, I suppose if you are already using previous versions of Ubuntu with or without unity then you'll have no problems with 14.04 and if you're installing it on hardware less than 5 years old with a 1.5Gig processor or better, 2Gig of RAM and fairly decent graphics then your not going to have any issues and you'll have a modern OS supported for the next 5 years.
For a new user who has been running windows XP and needs to move to a new OS but is reluctant to pay for a windows Upgrade then I would recommend installing Mint 17 LTS Mate, when it comes out at the end of the month. It will be a more familiar Desktop feel for windows users and as Mate is less resource intensive it will probably work better on older hardware. One point for new users of Linux while there is loads of support on the internet you can't beat having someone who's been there and done that as a new user themselves. My advice is look up your local Linux User Group (LUG) and get some face to face support.
I'll install Mint 17 on the Net-book when it comes out and do a write up to compare the experience.