Checking Computer Specs With No Operating System

After my previous post about checking computer specs in Linux somebody asked an interesting question: how do you check your computer’s specifications if you don’t actually have any operating system to check them with?

In my opinion the easiest way to do this would be to download a disk image of a live CD for a lightweight Linux distribution, such as my favourite: ArchLinux. Once you’ve burned it to a disc you can put it in your computer and boot directly from the disc. ArchLinux is light and fast and will allow you to log in as root with command line access, where you will be able to run the commands I talked about in my other post to find your computer specs even for a computer with no OS or in other cases, for example where you don’t have permission to check with the current OS. If you’re not familiar with Linux don’t worry, follow the on-screen instructions and just type the commands I described. When you’re done checking you can turn off the computer and take out the CD and things will be just as they were before.

Checking Computer Specs in Linux

❗ Note: automated script downloadable at the bottom of this post!

Something you always want to do on a computer, even if only once, is to check its hardware specifications, that is:

  • how much RAM do I have?
  • how much hard disk space do I have?
  • how “fast” is my CPU?
  • how much RAM does my graphics card have?

Of course most modern GNU/Linux desktop environments like Ubuntu usually come with some kind of graphical tool to find this information. GNOME’s System Monitor program should provide at least some of what you’re looking for. The information here is more for when you’re staring at a blinking cursor on a black screen trying to remember what the command was to show information about the CPU, RAM or Graphics Card.

This is the third time I’ve had to go on an internet search quest to remind myself how to do this in a Linux terminal. To save myself the trouble in the future, I’m writing down the commands here and if anyone else finds it useful then that’s great, and a second bird is figuratively killed!
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