Old NEC laptop
My name's Todd and I have a question about what distro you might recommend using for a very old laptop. I have an old NEC Versa 4200 (133 MHz) with a 4 GB hard disk and 16 MB of RAM.
I am looking for a distro (preferably with a low-end GUI) that I can put on it. I don't know if DSL will work but I'm just wondering what you might recommend.
How much experience do you have with Linux? I'd personally put Debian 4.0 on it, but it takes a lot of effort and some knowledge/experimentation to get things running with a GUI under 16megs of RAM.
In contrast, DSL may work out-of-box, albeit it has limitations of its own. I'd suggest trying DSL first.
16megs of RAM is REALLY hard to work with (using a GUI). For comparison, the least powerful machine I regularly use is a Toshiba Libretto 70CT, 120mhz with 32megs of RAM. Using Debian 4.0 and IceWM, I still have over 16megs of RAM left for running other programs--but not much more. So, I know that it'll be really tight if there's only 16megs of RAM to begin with.
I have 2 years of experience with Linux but I just wondered if there was something like GNOME that might run under at speed. KDE would be bogging at that speed.
My first idea was to use Debian or Ubuntu but it could slow it down since they use GNOME. I wasn't sure if there was a distro out there with something like FVWM95 or just a simple GUI front-end.
Speed is not really the biggest problem. 120mhz is sufficient for my Debian machine running IceWM.
RAM is your biggest problem. With 16megs of RAM, I do not think the Debian installer will even function. You'll have to transplant the hard drive to another laptop (or desktop if you have a 2.5"->3.5" IDE adapter). Do the install on the other computer, then transplant the hard drive back to the original machine.
I'd start by trying Damn Small Linux; it will either just plain work out-of-box, or it won't.
Note that while Debian's default desktop install uses GNOME, you don't have to use GNOME. I use Debian 4.0 on almost all of my computers. I use GNOME on none of them. I prefer IceWM over GNOME in all respects, and it also happens to be much faster and lighter. I used to use KDE on all of my Debian machines with 128+ megs of RAM. I never used GNOME very much.
I know that the CLI will run just fine but graphics will slow it down. I wasn't sure if 16 MB was sufficient or not. I'd add more but it's the generation of laptops where RAM was flash memory cards.
I might see what I can pull off or maybe find a small distro then build the GUI on there.
Thanks for the advice! :)