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Best linux for Old computer?

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November 7, 2008 8:58:59 PM

I'm looking for a decent linux distro for a very old computer. I have used Ubuntu and Ubuntu Studio a good amount, along with PenDriveLinux a fair amount, so I know my way around linux pretty well. Here is the criteria:

I have 20GB of space on the master hard drive, with lots of space on a whole bunch of other hard drives.
Here are the specs of my old computer:

Athlon 800 Mhz (can't remember)
640MB PC133
8MB Vanta graphics (sucks, I know)

Are there any distros that:
1. Will run very quickly on this machine?
2. Supports all that good stuff such as Firefox, Thunderbird, Mplayer, etc, etc. (including a few old games)
3. Ideally has a few games.
4. Ideally GNOME or KDE.
Thanks.

More about : linux computer

a b 5 Linux
November 8, 2008 1:18:09 AM

I recommend... Ubuntu 7.04. does well in benchies on phoronix.

I wouldn't say fast, but a decent workable speed...

Better than those distros which are really light but have major useability problems...

It's that or you go and customise your own.
a b 5 Linux
November 8, 2008 1:35:23 AM

Your RAM and VGA are going to slow you way down.

Upgrade them both if you can.

You can find some pretty cheap parts on newegg or ebay.

Good luck :) 
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November 8, 2008 3:19:24 AM

A motherboard with 3 RAM slots for PC133 does not have many upgrade options. 32 bucks for 512MB of ancient RAM isn't that great (that's the cheapest on newegg). I stumbled across this on ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/1GB-2-X-512MB-PC133-SDRAM-133MHz-DE...|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1308 and seems too good to be true. When I go into work again, I'll check to see if the motherboard accepts this stuff.

However, I did find a decent 64MB geforce2 card. That should be a significant improvement over an 8MB vanta. Now I can use that in my K6-2 300Mhz rig with 128MB. That one I think I'll put a copy of DSL on... the hard drive I have for that is 1GB 3200RPM, with a 120MB slave drive (lol).

Why ubuntu 7.04? I have a 7.10 and 8.04 LiveCD already, and don't really feel like making a whole new one. But why will Ubuntu 7.04 perform better then the new 8.10?
a b 5 Linux
November 8, 2008 9:11:33 AM

Complexity. 7.04 has been shown to bench faster than the newer versions of Ubuntu although it never personally felt that great a difference when I was upgrading through the versions. You should be able to run 8.10 but might want to look into running a lighter window manager such as XFCE to take some of the overhead away. Also keep an eye on what processed you include and just strip it back a little.
a b 5 Linux
November 8, 2008 7:11:28 PM

eeeUbuntu might help :) 

It's designed for netbooks with very low specs.

Good luck :) 
a b 5 Linux
November 8, 2008 10:29:15 PM

^ That's out now?

Oh thanks Linux_0.

audiovoodo you might not notice a tiny bit of performance on something of yours which is alot faster than his k-6.

a b 5 Linux
November 11, 2008 1:05:19 AM

In my experience with systems around that "weight class" and a few that were even "lighter", I think trying to run KDE or GNOME is seriously going to hamper the experience and generally run like a dog. If you're after those types, I second audiovoodoo's suggestion at trying a lighter manager such as XFCE4 (it even runs pretty well on my 400MHz, 128MB phone) or, if you're a bit more adventurous (read: not afraid to do some reading in terms of how to use a new UI), Fluxbox (or one of the other *boxes) or Enlightenment (I'd suggest E16, E17 is still undergoing heavy dev, especially with compiz work and such)
November 11, 2008 10:33:35 PM

Athlon 800, actually... but still quite a bit slower than modern processors. The K6-2 is going to inherit his old Vanta vid card.
a b 5 Linux
November 12, 2008 12:39:59 AM

I ran gnome on a 300MHz CPU before, it was slow but it worked. :) 

The amount of RAM is key.

XFCE should do a lot better.

Semper Fi. :) 
a b 5 Linux
November 12, 2008 8:34:41 AM

@AMD Girl

I only got the new build this summer, up to then I was running on an Athlon XP with a 32Mb graphics card. I also used to run it on an old Duron for Seti duty. Prior to that I had only played with Fedora on a K6 400.

@Linux_0

The eeeUbuntu builds really are geared for the eee hardware. I could not get it running on my own PC when I had a bit of a play with it. I did get it working on my brothers Eee and on the whole he is happy with it.
a b 5 Linux
November 12, 2008 6:41:58 PM

Maybe Xubuntu would do the trick :) 
a b 5 Linux
November 17, 2008 1:51:13 PM

That's the one... I get confused now with all these branches!
a b 5 Linux
November 17, 2008 5:43:16 PM

Try *buntu, *dora and *BSD I hear they're all good :) 

;) 
January 21, 2009 10:09:12 AM

Debian is very memory efficient from the start. Way better than Ubuntu, in my opinion. I'm running Debian Lenny myself on a laptop which is a model which was produced 10 years ago. Works very good! It's an Powerbook "Lombard".
February 2, 2009 9:48:50 AM

Not the most popular distro but PCLnuxOS 2007 runs very well on low spec equipment that you dont want to update.
February 28, 2009 7:38:49 AM

Try Arch Linux (archlinux.org) along with LXDE. LXDE is quite nice and the File Manager is very fast. Or try it with XFCE 4.6. XFCE 4.6 just released yesterday and is almost fast gnome though the version suitable for your processor (i686) is yet to release. Install it when the i686 version is available. Of course you can always try KDE or Gnome. Arch is a great rolling release - i.e there are no new versions like ubuntu 8.04 or ubuntu 8.10 when you have to upgrade the whole thing and a new linux kernel is available. Everything is updateable, including the great and fast package manager PACMAN itself. If you have a fast connection, you can install Arch with XFCE in very less time and it takes very little space. You can go here if you want to know how to install : http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners_Guide

Arch is very fast, much faster than buntu. Of course if you want something speedier and have more time you can always try Gentoo ( gentoo.org ) which is also a great rolling release. It will be much faster than Arch though your packages will be compiled. It will take you a day to install Gentoo with XFCE 4.6 over a fast connection. An additional day for KDE or openoffice etc though.
March 4, 2009 12:01:59 AM

I recommend Fedora Core 4, 5, 6, maybe even 8 or 9. Be careful with KDE though--Fedora 7 up has "newer" KDEs, so that means it will be a little slow.

A way while ago, I ran Fedora Core 4 on a Pentium III 450Mhz with 320MB RAM on a spare machine--it wasn't a speed queen, but it ran like a top and performed quite well for tasks anywhere from music listening, Internet to GIMP graphic design and CD burning.

I miss that machine a little bit...
March 17, 2009 9:54:34 PM

Either arch linux with LXDE or Openbox
If you know your way around Ubuntu then Crunchbang may be a good choice for you, it's ubuntu with openbox as default. Had a go with it for a while and wasn't often i used over 100mb of ram
February 27, 2010 4:44:10 PM

Puppy Linux or Vector Linux can run under any circumtances
a b 5 Linux
February 28, 2010 11:54:08 AM

demoka said:
Puppy Linux or Vector Linux can run under any circumtances


:sarcastic: 

They both still have their minimum requirements. Both still need USB or CD ROM boot support. We frequently get people down here trying to reuse old HW and sweeping generalisations are not going to help any of them.
March 25, 2010 2:08:36 PM

audiovoodoo said:
:sarcastic: 

They both still have their minimum requirements. Both still need USB or CD ROM boot support. We frequently get people down here trying to reuse old HW and sweeping generalisations are not going to help any of them.



Puppy can use a floppy to point to the cd or usb. I would suggest SalixOS, Puppy, Tiny Core, Wolvix Cub, Austrumi, AntiX, or SliTaz. I have found Vector to be a mixed bag. Blue Flops could be an option if you are really desperate. It fits on two floppies and uses Links as the browser(I think that's what it's called).
a b 5 Linux
March 25, 2010 6:29:41 PM

Thanks for the info, now that you have qualified the comment it makes far more sense.
March 26, 2010 8:40:14 AM

If a GUI is needed then go buntu earlier version around 7.10
a b 5 Linux
March 26, 2010 5:37:07 PM

7.10 would still be WAAAAaaay to much for the PC in question, even a server install would fail.
a b 5 Linux
March 26, 2010 6:33:51 PM

Grr.. Edit not working.


Ignore my last post, I got confused with some other specs we have been talking recently. It would run, slowly. The bigger issue with going back to 7.10 is that you would be missing an awful lot of patches and security updates.
December 20, 2012 8:09:31 PM

If you want to go really old, you might be interested in reading this or skimming it over:
http://jponline.hubpages.com/hub/Best-Linux-For-Old-Com...

I tested out various different light weight linux distro's to see which one's would perform the best on computers that were old and had very low RAM and hardware. I tested them out on a few computers that were only running on 64mb of RAM, 128mb of RAM, and 256mb of RAM.

Even if I have a computer that has 1GB or more, I still prefer to run the lightest weight distro's. Obviously, if you run very light weight distro's that only require a small amount of RAM (and you got the bit extra to spare) then your computers going to perform pretty well and speedy. But that's just me.

I know a lot of people like Ubuntu, but to me it's a little too bloated when compared to some other linux distro's, and it's not a good choice at all for old computers running on very limited specs.
a b 5 Linux
December 21, 2012 9:14:05 AM

thecodergeek said:
If you want to go really old, you might be interested in reading this or skimming it over:
http://jponline.hubpages.com/hub/Best-Linux-For-Old-Com...

I tested out various different light weight linux distro's to see which one's would perform the best on computers that were old and had very low RAM and hardware. I tested them out on a few computers that were only running on 64mb of RAM, 128mb of RAM, and 256mb of RAM.

Even if I have a computer that has 1GB or more, I still prefer to run the lightest weight distro's. Obviously, if you run very light weight distro's that only require a small amount of RAM (and you got the bit extra to spare) then your computers going to perform pretty well and speedy. But that's just me.

I know a lot of people like Ubuntu, but to me it's a little too bloated when compared to some other linux distro's, and it's not a good choice at all for old computers running on very limited specs.


I use Ubuntu with LXDE when working on a low RAM computer. I keep a remastersys copy on a flash for repairing windows and installing Ubuntu because here old is the norm. With my LXDE I can transfer Combo fix and the rest of my arsenal to an infected computer where viruses erase flashes and disable the safe mode. Not to mention erase lost passwords and a myriad of other problems.
a b 5 Linux
December 21, 2012 10:15:52 AM

What part of posted question in 2008 don't you understand?
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