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I don't know specs but it has XP on it and is relatively slow. As this PC will mainly be used for word processing and possible internet (via wifi USB)..what ...
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  1. #1
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    Old Computer


    I don't know specs but it has XP on it and is relatively slow. As this PC will mainly be used for word processing and possible internet (via wifi USB)..what distro should I use?

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    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
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    Depends what you mean by 'slow'. My newest computers are atom-based desktops, and they're fine running winxp and Fedora 17 - in terms of cpu ooomph, they're slower than my 5 year old dual-core Athlon-based computer.

    The biggest limit will be the amount of disk space you have available, and what tools and services you want. If it's more than a hundred gigs or so, you'd probably be absolutely fine running any of the current distributions, especially if you're not relying on graphics-based tasks (OpenGL games and the like).
    Linux user #126863 - see http://linuxcounter.net/

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    Onboard GPU and assuming a pentinum CPU.

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    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    My IBM M41 Tower that came with Windows 2000 originally, multiboots and runs Macpup 529,AntiX12,Semplice Linux, and Vector Linux 7 STD Gold OK with a single pentium cpu and onboard gpu.

    I have a 40gig and 60 gig dual drive ide hardrives in the tower also. Ram specs on your rig would give members here a better idea of what you are running.

    Example; I already mentioned my hardrives. I have 1 gig of sd ram and a P4 processor in that IBM tower. Mine is just a test box and streams music also.
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    I actually have no clue. Its a hand me down from work. Everything is also in Chinese. Its basically assumed a piece of junk. HDD is prob like 60gb or something.

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    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    Well, Just for starters and if you have some spare good cd's. Burn a

    Distribution Release: Puppy Linux 4.3.1 (DistroWatch.com News)

    This release (puppy 4.31) pretty much has been a good staple of mine for booting up on all kinds of gear and posting info on any computer I get while running a live session.

    You can then gather ram info and such and post specs in a forum thread with it. Like I said. I keep it just for situations like you have.

    Edit: I suggested this because I have booted this succesfully on as little as 256MB of ram. Which is usually the minimum to run XP.
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    K/Ubuntu should work fine on it unless it's RAM challenged, in which case Xubuntu will probably suit you. If the processor is a P3 it won't handle the latest flash player but there's a work around (I'd give specifics but it'd take me several minutes to track them down). Mepis is a very nice distro as well though it's not touted as often or loudly as *buntu. If you're a hands-on sort of fellow but don't want to get too terribly deep, go with Debian. I enjoy spending an hour or so every so often on Distrowatch checking out what's new. distrowatch dot com

    For a fun live media distro, take a look at Slax and you should play with Slitaz at least once just to see how much distro can be fitted into 30 MB and you'll be impressed with how fast it is, even on older hardware.

    On truly old hardware (P2, P3, Celeron or AMD stuff that's around 500 MHz) AntiX is nice, Slitaz is nicer (if it'll run on the hardware) but sometimes a Debian bizcard install, which lets you pick a minimal set of software via the command line, is best of all.

    Of course if you're just experimenting then pull a "Big Frog" and distro-hop like crazy for a few weeks and you'll soon know which distros you prefer.

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    Distro-hopping is the only real way to find the right distro. I've done lot's of it, and my go-to distros for old hardware are the following

    For deb-based, I go with Antix (nice easy set up too).
    For rpm-based, I go with TineMe

    If you know linux well enough, Arch will fly on any system, but requires some time and patience to set up.

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    I agree that distro hopping is THE WAY to go to truly find what works best for you. However, like the writer who I am quoting, I find antiX works well on any system I have. I installed it, for instance, on two older Dell models: a Dimension 3000 desktop with 512 MB of memory and not a very big disk (don't have it with me right now, but probably either a 40, 60, or 80 GB unit. CPU might be a Pentium IV, but if so, a very early vintage one, but might even be Pentium III). antiX works GREAT with it. Also have antiX on a similar vintage Dell Latitude D610; I have used antiX on D600 and D620 models in the past as well and it works there well.

    I currently have five year old Gateway 2000 and Lenovo 3000 series portable (Gateway) and laptop (Lenovo) systems; both of them also have antiX installed, and they are faster, and work superbly.

    Another writer, who suggests Puppy, has another good idea: I generally have good success with that as well. Puppy 4.3.1 was a good release, but unless there is a problem with it, I'd recommend using the newer Puppy, either 5.2.8 or 5.3.3, depending on which packaging style Ubuntu or Slackware) you prefer.

    Debian-based systems (of which antiX is one) can be either built up or chopped down as needed to make a very usable system in many form factors, sizes, and ages.
    Slackware derivatives are also good to do the same: great example - Absolute Linux 14.0.

    I am not quite as high on RPM-based alternatives, but there are a few that may work on "older" hardware, provided you choose a "light" infrastructure - a desktop environment, such as Xfce or LXDE, that consumes fewer system resources, or an even lighter window manager. PCLinuxOS, which comes equipped with KDE, may be slightly "heavy" for some older equipment, but if you want to try it anyway, start with the Mini Me versions. But if you use it with LXDE, or even the IceWM window manager, it may work just fine. The same may be true if you choose openSUSE, Mandriva, Mageia, or Fedora, all of which are also RPM-based distributions.

    Arch is flexible; if you can handle working with it, you can certainly get it to be light enough to do whatever you want; it's been somewhat less stable over the past year than it has been in the past. Manjaro, a recent derivative of Arch that does indeed derive from Arch, but takes the time to test out Arch packages, then provides the stable packages in its own repo, may be an easier way to go if you are not well versed in the intricacies of Arch Linux.

    Even deeper (and more fundamental) than Arch, if you go with a Gentoo-based distribution, you may also be able to configure a lighter setup. I've had better success over the past year or so in building a Sabayon Linux system with the Xfce desktop; that may provide a workable environment for older hardware.

    Out of these, which would I personally choose? I find antiX to be flexible and light, easy to install, and it has worked on at least a half dozen different hardware platforms, so based on my own personal experiences, that is the one that I would recommend the most of the alternatives that I have discussed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacopag View Post
    Distro-hopping is the only real way to find the right distro. I've done lot's of it, and my go-to distros for old hardware are the following

    For deb-based, I go with Antix (nice easy set up too).
    For rpm-based, I go with TineMe

    If you know linux well enough, Arch will fly on any system, but requires some time and patience to set up.
    Brian Masinick
    masinick AT yahoo DOT com

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    Yep. Antix is my favorite lightweight works-out-of-the-box distro, hands down, and it is suitable for ANY system including a brand new 3rd-gen i7 yadi yada (it'll fly). I do wish it had a 64-bit flavour though. And something else about Antix that rocks is it's community. It's a small community, but it's also one of the friendliest and most helpful ones out there.

    Lubuntu is also a very nice out-of-the-box lightweight distro, and shouldn't be overlooked. Probably the best place to start for most people in the OPs situation who don't want to mess around too much.

    Puppy IS good, but I just feel like a wimp using it. It needs a cooler name. I can't go around telling people that I use "Puppy" linux. I just can't. Feel free to take your shots at me.

    Edit: Just tried pasting link to antix forums, but it's easy to find by googling "antix forums"
    Last edited by Pacopag; 10-19-2012 at 03:12 AM.

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