This is Home Basic edition, but 512 is still inadequate. I guess ram cost more here. 512 is not common on desktops now, but in laptops are very usual here, but you know, we are always a few steps down compared with the big countries, both in availability of hi-end stuff and prices (both are related, of course). The cause of this is polemic and deserves a deep study.
I understood that it was Home Basic. When Vista first came out, there were computers here for sale from the big retailers with Home Basic and 512 megs. For Home Premium therer were many with 1 gig. I guess customers were complaining and also, I hear the price of RAM has fallen rather steeply, at least to the big computer makers. So Home Basic doesn't show up much on sales from large retailers and if it does, it tends to come with a gig of RAM. There are more entry level desktop computers with 2 gigs of RAM for Home Premium, but many still have 1 gig. I wouldn't buy a Home Premium computer with less than 2 gigs. I also don't think 1 gig is so good even for Home Basic. I've turned off the Aero stuff, so even though I'm using Home Premium on the laptop, it's running as if it were Home Basic. I feel 2 gigs are needed.
Because I'm running VectorLinux in a virtual machine almost all the time I have the computer turned on and have allocated 512 megs for VL in the virtual machine, this is making significant demands on my RAM. Task Manager Performance shows that over 1 gig of physical RAM is in use when the VM is running--and that's with nothing much else running. Virtual machines are great, but they really do suck up computer resources.
I imagine that for light use (Web browsing, e-mail, viewing photos, writing letters) 1 gig would be okay whether it's Vista Home Basic or Home Premium.
Needless to say, VectorLinux would fly on even the lowliest Vista laptop as long as the hardware could be made to work. On mine I can't get wireless and sound to work, despite having tried VL 5.8 Standard installed on its own partition plus 8 distros on LiveCDs. All failed to get wireless going except for PCLinuxOS and Mandriva, but they kept losing the wireless connection, so weren't satisfactory, either. And no distro has been able to produce sound from the speakers. Fortunately, networking and sound work fine in the Linux guest in the VM on the Vista host.