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Linux What OS for old laptop?

Discussion in 'Software' started by Squallers, 9 Dec 2008.

  1. Squallers

    Squallers Meat Puppet

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    I recently resurected an compaq evo laptop to play about with thinking that linux might be fun. The hdd was knackered so it was replaced and today i installed ubuntu because i'd heard it was the easiest to use. I must say i do agree it was easy but its a bit sluggish. I had XP installed before and it ran fine but the linux goes pretty slow, especially if im asking it to do more than one thing at a time.
    The most likely explaination for the drop in peformance is that the 5400rpm drive was replaced with a 4200rpm drive (canabalised out of an old creative mp3 player) but what im wandering is are there any spectacularly easy to ru flavours of linux or anything i can do to the ubuntu install to make it a bit snappier.

    SPECS:

    850mhz Pentium 3 (apparently this was a powerful machine when my dad got it)
    256mb RAM (cant remember what type but im guessing slow)
    40GB 4200rpm HDD

    I'm aware of the distinct possibility that this may just be too slow but i only really want it for mesing about on, doing a bit of uni work, maybe watching the occasional video in the bath so im not looking for anything too fancy just somthing functional and responsive.

    Any suggestions welcome
     
  2. Matticus

    Matticus ...

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    xubuntu would be reasonably quick, anything that doesnt use gnome or KDE will run ok on it.

    Damn small, puppy or gentoo should be good too. I say xubuntu purely because it is easy as pie to use and if you have no real interest in "learning" linux and just want to make an old laptop have some use then it would be good.

    Someone else who is l33t3r than I at all things open source may give you a more informed recommendation though.
     
  3. Singularity

    Singularity ******* Operator from Hell

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    Well, you might look into Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux. Both are lightweight distributions and have lower requirements than the usual Ubuntu/Fedora/SuSE and other "big distributions"

    Edit: yeah, beaten to the point by Matticus :)
     
    Last edited: 9 Dec 2008
  4. Matticus

    Matticus ...

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  5. crazybob

    crazybob Voice of Reason

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    TinyMe looks interesting, and I'm going to have to test that out. However, TinyMe, Puppy Linux, and Damn Small Linux are all quite a bit more lightweight than you really need. Xubuntu will run very happily on that hardware, and will give you full functionality and ease of use (something DSL in particular isn't good at).
     
  6. steveo_mcg

    steveo_mcg New Member

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    xubuntu or Debian with fluxbox installed. DSL is an excellent tool but its limited (for good reasons) its not a full distro.
    Debian with fluxbox is nearly equivalent. DSL is Debian based but with some fairly major tweeks for size. Xubuntu uses xfce as a UI (window manager) which is much heavier than fluxbox but is also much lighter than Gnome or KDE which are full featured but memory hoggs.
     
  7. ozstrike

    ozstrike yip yip yip yip

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    I have a very similar spec laptop, and I run Debian with fluxbox. It works quite well.
     
  8. Squallers

    Squallers Meat Puppet

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    Right had a look at debian and fluxbox and to be honest it looked a little more complicated than i can be bothered with as Matticus said i dont really have a desire to "learn" linux at the moment im just looking to make some use of an old laptop. I'm downloading xbuntu at the moment to give that a try.
    One question that i cant seem to find an answer too is do i need antivirus and/or a firewall or is it like mac OSX and pretty safe? Im not planning on using it to visit the deapest darkest corners of the internet there may be some light torrenting but thats all
     
  9. steveo_mcg

    steveo_mcg New Member

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    Firewall is always a good idea. Linux uses iptables, its built into the kernel so there isn't a performance issue you'll probably want a gui front end for it though, there might be one in ubunutu any way.

    I don't even bother with a av on windows but thats just me. Linux is thus far virus free.
     
  10. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    My main laptop is a PIII 500MHz with 256MB of RAM and a 20GB harddrive, running Ubuntu without any problems. It's totally usable, even when multi-tasking between OpenOffice.org, The Gimp, and Firefox.
     
  11. Shielder

    Shielder Live long & prosper!

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    I've got an old Dell CPx laptop, which I think uses an 800MHz P3 with 256MB ram. So the specs are pretty similar to yours. I use CentOS 4 on this system, mainly because we use Red Hat at work and if I need to bork a system, I'd prefer to do it on my laptop (its been reinstalled so many times I've lost count) rather than the servers at work. It does everything I ask of it, even to the point of running Gnome or KDE, Firefox, Openoffice and nedit all at once.

    I may have to replace it soon though, the keyboard has gone wonky and some of the letters don't work. :(

    Hope that helps.

    Andy
     
  12. Glider

    Glider /dev/null

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    I'd go for Debian + lightweight WM... Or Gentoo if you have the time to set it up ;)
     
  13. Herbicide

    Herbicide Lurktacular

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    I've got a Toshiba Tecra (PII 400MHz, 256MB RAM) running slackware and blackbox that handles FF3, usenet, last.fm, GIMP and what-have-you fine.

    It doesn't like youtube though...
     
  14. yodasarmpit

    yodasarmpit No longer the other Brett.

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    Just chuck XP on it and live a happy stress free life :)
     
  15. Fophillips

    Fophillips New Member

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    Heh, XP has given me nothing but stress.

    If you want easy to use you should try an Ubuntu derivative (either Fluxbuntu or Xubuntu would be your best bet), if you are feeling more adventurous try Arch or even Gentoo. You could even try something other than GNU/Linux like FreeBSD or OpenSolaris
     
  16. Krikkit

    Krikkit All glory to the hypnotoad! Super Moderator

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    I've enjoyed a few happy hours with Xubuntu, even if it is a bit limited. Runs well on EeePc's, which aren't exactly powerhouses.
     
  17. notatoad

    notatoad pretty fing wonderful

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    i've used puppy, DSL, and xubuntu on a laptop with similar specs. xubuntu is adequate, and you'll be perfectly happy with it, but i find all the *buntus to be a little bloated for my liking. DSL and puppy are so small you can load them into a virtual ramdisk and then they really fly. i found puppy to be a lot more user-friendly and full-featured than DSL, it is my livecd of choice right now.
     
  18. Squallers

    Squallers Meat Puppet

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    So i installed xbuntu and it seems a little nippier. Not sure how long its going to last though. The HDD is making a very worrying clicking noise but to be fair it is properly old, the mp3 player i scavenged it from was at least 5 years old. but barring that all seems good.
     
  19. UncertainGod

    UncertainGod Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that most of the pre-built distro's that started out quite light weight and fast on older hardware but they quickly get bloated and bogged down.

    If you want a fast, responsive OS on older hardware use a build it yourself distro, the one I use is Arch linux, it rocks if you are prepared for the setting up although there is a frankly superb beginners guide to get you through it.
     
  20. rito

    rito New Member

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    Ubuntu server edition with fvwm-crystal installed.
     

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