Well I don't know about startup programs taking up that much memory, but yes of course you should have at least 1gb of ram now a days.
i wouldn't quite agree with that. if there are no performance problems caused in the laptop then i see no need to spend the money. in fact 256mb of memory is most likely more than adequate for what i would call the average
user, although that would have to be configured correctly and 512mb is definitely enough. 1gb is only needed if you are a gamer or use "powerful" software such as video editors and photoshop