ok, so my dad has a P4 1.8 ghz, 512 mb laptop that he uses for basically internet, word, and excel. Win XP doesn't run to fast on it and i was wondering if switching to Linux could improve performance. He doesn't care much for appearance but stability will help him out a lot. Also, any help on which Linux version would be better is appreciated.
I dont see that you would have much of a problem with any of the main stream distros. 512Mb is enough for KDE or Gnome based systems so your options are all open. As for faster performing possibly a little. More stable.. Oh yes
Ubuntu is a popular choice (I run it myself) and it has good support for a range of laptop hardware out of the box. The nice thing is that it boots as a live CD that you can try it out before you install it. Certainly worth a look.
Part of the problem I had moving to linux was deciding which flavour to choose. There are just so many distros nowdays each with its own strenghts and weaknesses.
I'll be interested to see what anybody elese suggests..
The great part about Linux as a system is the ability to choose the Desktop Environment. A great, lightweight manager that is easy to configure is XFCE4. The really nice thing is that there is a livecd version of Ubuntu that uses XFCE4 called Xubuntu.
Good suggestion. I've had a brief play with that myself and was quite impressed. Like you say its one of the nice thing that you can choose something to fit. However sometimes I think we confuse quality of choice with quantity.
P4 1.8 and 512mb ram is pretty decent for a laptop. I am running kubuntu edgy on an old toshiba laptop with a celeron 1.3 and a gig of ram. Runs really nice unless I enable xgl (vista-like 3d features) in the desktop.
I have also run fedora core 3 through 6 on this laptop with good results as well....Oh yeh, Susu 9.3 Pro and 10.1 open suse.
Suse Pro works well, Open Suse not so well.
I like Ubuntu/Kubuntu because of the hardware support and the live cd....Easy to try before you install...You can check the hardware support without messing around with your current os.
It's a fine choice, lots of good community support. Some of the stuff could be made easier for users new to Linux (i.e. adding new repository locations to get some packages) but the great documentation makes up for it.
I hadn't use Ubuntu until a project I was working on (an embedded board with an ARM processor that requires a crosscompile toolchain) required deb packages and since I'd already done the Debian thing (still my fave for a stripped-down install that needs to be up quickly) I gave it a go.