I'd say go with a lower kernel and work your way up.
Otherwise, it's about specializing the kernel for the computer.
Linux From Scratch seems like a really good idea.
MuLinux -> Damn Small Linux -> Puppy Linux -> Debian
I'm still hoping for a day when tons of programs will be created with ncurses, and that idea of an X server will seem silly. After using Linux for a while, I can see why people argue about the X server.
I'm sure most oldbies truly think all this graphical stuff is nonsense, and it could be simplified down somewhat.
In my view, the Xserver is only necessary for viewing pictures. I mean, if you remove the idea of graphic-intense games from your head. With that in mind, that's how I think of putting Linux on an old computer. The OS shouldn't bog the computer, and it should run decently fast. I'd say Damn Small Linux's programs do well in that department. DSL is limited, but serves its purpose.
I keep reading about web browsers that can be text-based, like lynx or w3m, and they use some kind of framebuffer if you need to look at an image. I guess the idea is saving on system resources and using them only when you really need to. Of course, the less system resources you use, the faster you can have the computer.
FrameBuffer UI - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A while back, I put DamnSmall on a PC that used to run Windoze 95 and it works like a charm!
I'm using Ubuntu 7.10 on an old Dell GS 100 tower with a 1GHz CPU and 265MB RAM. Admittedly, its a bit slower than may Acer 3050 laptop with a 1.7GHz CPU and 1GB RAM, but its still quite functional.
Registered Linux user 449064
Originally Posted by the0wl
Heh... My Freudian Slip is showing... 1GHz.
Originally Posted by ryokimball
I got Deli to install on a Toshiba Tecra 740CDT. 80MB RAM, 2GB HD, with a floppy and CD.
It uses a ports tree for updates, so you can compile pretty much anything you want after that.
I would generally vote for either Slackware or Debian, but after quite some testing I found DSL is really the best for older PCs. One of the things that I've noticed is that, in older computers, HD space can sometimes be a problem. With this in mind, there's not many distros except DSL or Puppy that can deal with that.
I've also used DeLiLinux a while back and liked it, specially since it's not a LiveCD (I don't really like them for everyday use). I'd recommend it with my eyes closed as well.
This page got pointed to by another thread so please don't think I'm trying to resurrect the dead. I think this thread still has a lot of advice to offer new users looking for minimal distros for older hardware. I'd also like to add that I've used DSL and Puppy both. My hat goes off to both of them for providing distros that work well with older slower hardware. I'd like to add into that mix, DelLi Linux which is a really good choice for similar computers. I understand BeatrIX is back on the move again. It's another worth considering.
I voted to Slackware, but It's better to start from scratch.
Build all that you need to fit your needs.
I think this poll is rather vague. You need to LIST the hardware before talking about distro for it. And old can often be a relative term - both a Pentium 4 HT 3.8GHz and a Celeron 1GHz can be called Old.
Anyway, on MY own rig, with 256MB DDR 400MHz RAM, 2.66GHz Pentium 4 Prescott without HT, Intel D915GLVG with onboard graphics and audio, and an 80GB Samsung SATA HDD, Arch is the perfect option, with IceWM and KDEmod. :D