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Good distro for an OLD laptop?


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#1 Capn Easy

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 05:54 PM

I took my daughter to the Trenton Computer Fest -- a mere shadow of its former self, but that's a different topic.

Anyway, she got a great deal on a working ~1999 vintage laptop. It has a Pentium Celeron processor, 128 MB of RAM, and a 6 GB hard Disk. The hard disk was reformatted and left blank. It came with the original disks for Windows ME, but she's hoping to install a Linux distro.

Now, we only need to know the best candidates for a distro.

It has a DVD/CD drive, but no internet access, and we don't plan on connecting it. I can download anything to my computer and put together a disc for her.

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#2 computerxpds

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Posted 24 April 2010 - 06:25 PM

well there are a lit of options one being an ubuntu distro or a mint thats right mint distro as well or you could go for puppy linux but the GUI is awful.
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#3 the_patriot11

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 12:08 AM

Something with a small footprint most likely-ubuntu or linux mint being the most obvious choices. if you want a more powerful system, ive had some luck with OpenSuSe on older systems.

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Primary system: Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, Processor: AMD Phenom II x4 945, Memory: 16 gigs of Patriot G2 DDR3 1600, Video: AMD Sapphire Nitro R9 380, Storage: 1 WD 500 gig HD, 1 Hitachi 500 gig HD, and Power supply: Coolermaster 750 watt, OS: Windows 10 64 bit. 

Media Center: Motherboard: Gigabyte mp61p-S3, Processor: AMD Athlon 64 x2 6000+, Memory: 6 gigs Patriot DDR2 800, Video: Gigabyte GeForce GT730, Storage: 500 gig Hitachi, PSU: Seasonic M1211 620W full modular, OS: Windows 10.

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#4 cryptodan

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 12:52 PM

Try any of these Live CD's before you install

#5 Capn Easy

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 06:38 PM

Thanks, guys.

I had considered Mint myself, but I'm afraid the bottleneck is that the laptop (a Compaq Pressario 1200 from 1999) has 128 MB RAM, and that looks like the limit.

Thanks for the list of Live CDs, cryptodan. We tried the Mint Live CD and after a few tries got it to run. It was choppy, but it looks like we've got 1/3 the RAM the specs call "minimum." We've got DSL and Mitrax ready to try, and a few others waiting in the wings.

Still, when Mint came up and she called up the text editor and typed in some lines, she was beaming!

#6 BlackSpyder

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 07:07 PM

Try DSL with KDE as the GUI that should give you a lightweight stable backend with a fairly modern looking GUI.

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#7 MWisBest

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 04:15 PM

You should try AntiX or perhaps SliTaz.

I suggest to stay away from DSL as it hasn't had an update in years, and one of the developers apparently left and made Tiny Core instead, a 6(?)MB Linux.

EDIT: Ubuntu? LOL Good luck with that.

Edited by MWisBest, 27 April 2010 - 04:16 PM.


#8 cryptodan

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 04:20 PM

EDIT: Ubuntu? LOL Good luck with that.


Ubuntu is a pretty nice and stable distro of linux. I use it and have no issues with it with any of my computers.

#9 computerxpds

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 04:25 PM

I second cryptodan I use ubuntu and now I'm using the new 10.04 LTS (Beta) which by far is the best version.

Edited by computerxpds, 27 April 2010 - 04:25 PM.

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#10 Capn Easy

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 10:28 PM

We have booted up the SliTaz Live CD and it looked interesting. It looks like AntiX is on the Mepis site, and the protection module of MBAM doesn't like that IP address -- it'll have to wait for a while.

DSL looked interesting, but the Live version doesn't like the Compaq Presario's touchpad. There's a fix for it, after it's installed.

To a teenager Mitrax has a significant "wow factor" -- a feminine voice announces when the system is booting up and shutting down. (I didn't have the heart to tell her that my old Amiga 3000 was doing that years before she was born. :flowers: )


Anyway, the front runner so far is Mint. The Live CD "requires" almost 400 MB to run, so when we finally got it to run on 128 MB it was choppy. I'm satisfied that it will run more smoothly if/when we install it and run it off the hard disk.

We haven't tried Ubuntu/Xubuntu/Kubuntu yet. The Live versions have the same problem that Mint has -- they need too much RAM. I have used Google to track down some reports of people running Ubuntu on the identical model as my daughter's, and it seems that it will run slowly, but well enough. That'll be the next round -- we'll skip the Live CD and install it. If she doesn't like it we can always wipe it and try something else.


This continues to be a great learning experience for her, and a lot of fun as well! :thumbsup:

Edited by Capn Easy, 28 April 2010 - 12:50 AM.


#11 the_patriot11

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 01:05 AM

that is the curse of live versions is that they eat ram like a kid eats candy (still not as bad as vista does installed though) once you get them actually installed they should run smoother.

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Primary system: Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3, Processor: AMD Phenom II x4 945, Memory: 16 gigs of Patriot G2 DDR3 1600, Video: AMD Sapphire Nitro R9 380, Storage: 1 WD 500 gig HD, 1 Hitachi 500 gig HD, and Power supply: Coolermaster 750 watt, OS: Windows 10 64 bit. 

Media Center: Motherboard: Gigabyte mp61p-S3, Processor: AMD Athlon 64 x2 6000+, Memory: 6 gigs Patriot DDR2 800, Video: Gigabyte GeForce GT730, Storage: 500 gig Hitachi, PSU: Seasonic M1211 620W full modular, OS: Windows 10.

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#12 Capn Easy

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 08:59 PM

We spent another day flipping through Live CDs, and I think the search is officially over.

My daughter is running wattOS. We had one glitch loading it. The Live CD worked fine, but when we tried to load the final release version we "lost" the keyboard -- like the OS was looking somewhere else for stdin. I went to the wattOS forum and discovered that a few other people had reported a similar problem. I was able to download the last beta and we installed that -- bingo!

For running in 128 MB off a 6 GB drive on a laptop that proudly announces it was "engineered for Windows ME," it was very impressive, and downright zippy. The word processor came up, the spreadsheet came up, it read and wrote to a flash drive in its USB (1.1) port, etc. This is all my daughter hoped for, and it worked great.

Then, just for fun, I plugged an IOGear wireless adapter in a USB port. And, bingo all over again! She was on the internet, posting to Facebook. Firefox lags noticeably compared to the desktop PC on the FiOS router, but it was very usable.


Well, there was a little frustration, which we chalked up to education, and a lot of fun, and she has a fully functional laptop that's all hers. It was a good time! :thumbsup:

Edited by Capn Easy, 22 May 2010 - 09:01 PM.





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