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Best OS for an old laptop

I have recently come into possession of an IBM Thinkpad R40 Notebook which has the following specifications:
  • Intel Pentium 4 1.8 GHz
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 80 GB HDD

It has Windows XP installed but it runs very slow. I tried optimising (tweaking) the system to make it perform better but I'm still not satisfied. I even went ahead and did a clean install (after formatting the hard drive) but I feel it still hogs. There are no additional slots for a RAM upgrade too.

I turned, next, to Ubuntu but the recent version of this OS has a lot of eye-candy and the system still suffers from low performance. What OS would be the best for the notebook, I want blazing fast performance for:
  • Word Processing, Spreadsheets, etc (Office Suite)
  • Surfing the internet with latest browser (and its plugins enabled)
  • Playing music

I wouldn't mind any Linux distribution but would refrain from installing a very old OS like Windows 98 kinda stuffs. Please advise!
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  1. Best answer
    Which Ubuntu distro did you use? You could go further back to something like 12.04 LTS.

    Another option is Linux Mint: http://www.linuxmint.com/index.php

    lubuntu is designed specifically to be lightweight and should work as well: http://lubuntu.net/
  2. IMO it's worthless - you won't be able to do anything meaningful with that amount of RAM

    you could probably remove the mainboard and install a Raspberry Pi that will perform better!
  3. gbryan101 said:
    Which Ubuntu distro did you use?

    I tried Ubuntu 9.04

    You could go further back to something like 12.04 LTS.

    Another option is Linux Mint: http://www.linuxmint.com/index.php

    lubuntu is designed specifically to be lightweight and should work as well: http://lubuntu.net

    I'm looking at LUbuntu now, thanks for the suggestion.

  4. dingo07 said:
    IMO it's worthless - you won't be able to do anything meaningful with that amount of RAM

    Well, it used to be a beast of a machine. We don't get notebooks like these anymore, and I'd like to retain it.

    you could probably remove the mainboard and install a Raspberry Pi that will perform better!
  5. xibalban said:
    dingo07 said:
    IMO it's worthless - you won't be able to do anything meaningful with that amount of RAM

    Well, it used to be a beast of a machine. We don't get notebooks like these anymore, and I'd like to retain it.

    you could probably remove the mainboard and install a Raspberry Pi that will perform better!




    I definitely know where you're coming from on this. I have an old Gateway from 1998 or so, and it's built like a brick. I actually went ahead and reinstalled Windows 98 and used it as a field ballistics calculator. Sort of got replaced by my phone, but was useful for the time before that.
  6. gbryan101 said:

    I definitely know where you're coming from on this. I have an old Gateway from 1998 or so, and it's built like a brick. I actually went ahead and reinstalled Windows 98 and used it as a field ballistics calculator. Sort of got replaced by my phone, but was useful for the time before that.

    Well, I would say mine is made of steel that way. Got it at $200 (USD) in 2001.
  7. +1 to Lubuntu, or equally Xubuntu. I'd recommend version 12.04 LTS for either.
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