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What linux version for old pentium 3 laptops

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June 10, 2011 11:36:35 AM

I have around 25 old laptops and am looking for a suitable version of linux to install the CPUs are Pentium 3 or Celeron from 500-1000MHz and RAM is between 128-512Mb. Some have DVD drives so I am looking for a version of Linux that will run well on these machines, recognise the hardware without complicated driver installation, have software that can play DVDs and have or support a browser that supports flash. Please let me know what you recommend.
a b D Laptop
a b 5 Linux
June 10, 2011 12:45:20 PM

have you tried Ubuntu 10.04? you could test it by using the LiveCD option on the installation CD.
June 10, 2011 12:57:55 PM

Yes thats the only one I have tried and they run to slowly and most hang during install. I am trying an old version of Redhat from 2003 at the moment and an old ubunto.
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a b 5 Linux
June 10, 2011 2:10:18 PM

simon12 said:
I have around 25 old laptops and am looking for a suitable version of linux to install the CPUs are Pentium 3 or Celeron from 500-1000MHz and RAM is between 128-512Mb. Some have DVD drives so I am looking for a version of Linux that will run well on these machines, recognise the hardware without complicated driver installation, have software that can play DVDs and have or support a browser that supports flash. Please let me know what you recommend.


The distribution doesn't matter so much as your configuration. You want to use a pretty basic desktop environment to make the most use of those machines' limited amounts of RAM. I'd pick LXDE or XFCE as they use a lot less RAM than Gnome or KDE. Most distributions come with Flash or you can add it after the fact pretty easily; the same is true for a DVD decoder. Hardware detection is generally pretty good but laptops and old laptops in particular tend to have some very odd hardware that wasn't even well-supported in Windows let alone Linux, so you might have problems like all of the buttons on a non-standard keyboard not working properly or suspend/hibernate not working properly.

If I had to recommend a specific distribution, Debian would be good. It's stable, doesn't use a lot of RAM by default, is fairly easy to install, and can be configured just about any way you would want to. You'd want to scroll down to the alternate desktop environments menu item at the CD boot menu to select something other than Gnome, use the graphical install option, and make sure to check the "use non-free software" box when asked that question during the install.

Ubuntu likely ran like a dog since it assumes you are running at least a somewhat modern computer and can use more RAM than some of those machines have. It would run okay on a machine with 512 MB of RAM and a 1 GHz PIII, but would run poorly on machines with less than 256 MB of RAM or ones with CPUs nearer the 500 MHz mark.
a b 5 Linux
June 11, 2011 4:13:40 PM

simon12 said:
I have around 25 old laptops and am looking for a suitable version of linux to install the CPUs are Pentium 3 or Celeron from 500-1000MHz and RAM is between 128-512Mb. Some have DVD drives so I am looking for a version of Linux that will run well on these machines, recognise the hardware without complicated driver installation, have software that can play DVDs and have or support a browser that supports flash. Please let me know what you recommend.


I had over 40 antiquated PCs donated to my NPO and made ten usable ones out of the bunch, of which were three PIII machines. I used either antiX or the newer, Debian-based, Statler version of CrunchBang (i486 ver.) on them, with success.

My experience has shown antiX to be a winner in these regard. Check it out yourself, however. The newest version, antiX-M11 is said to be even better than the M8.5 ver i am familiar with and have had on a friend's old Dell for over a year now, without fail.

University of Crete mirror is a real good source for downloading not only antiX and its "parent," MEPIS, but others, as well.

Best wishes!
June 4, 2012 3:10:54 PM

I had a similar situation, this old desktop has an Intel Celeron (1Ghz), and 512Mb RAM. Ubuntu 8 did not have the wifi-card support i needed, Ubuntu 11-12 did not have the old video card support i needed (actually i think Xorg didn't). Any ubuntu installation would hang right at the end with a "dconf" error. After 9 different flavors of linux, and 12 or so attempts, I finally got a Ubuntu 10.04 Alternative Install to work. The Ubuntu desktop ran very slowly, so I tryed xfce, lxde, and a few others. Again, I finally found what I needed in not just the lxde desktop, but the "lubuntu-desktop" package. The performance was much better, and going against what everyone says about these old machines ("Don't bother trying to upgrade an old machine, just buy a new one..") <-I've read this on ALOT of boards. I spent about $40 with shipping and handling, ordering a new "old" video card (Radeon 7000) to get the graphics processing OFF of the CPU, and onto a GPU of its own, plus 2 sticks of 512Mb RAM (giving me the 1Gb i was looking for). I am very happy with my setup now, I never wanted this computer to run a newer OS, I just wanted it to run. And Ubuntu 10.04 with Lubuntu's Desktop, plus the 2 cheap upgrades I did on my hardware, gave this old PC new life. It was donated to me by someone who thought it had died for good, on the first boot it barely ran the Windows XP that came with it (probably because of the abuse it received from the previous owner), but now I can do everything I want to do with it.
a b D Laptop
June 4, 2012 11:00:12 PM

DO NOT use an old distro like Ubuntu 8 or 10.04. instead use a modern lightweight distro like Lubuntu (min requirements Pentium II or Celeron system with 128 MB of RAM) or PuppyLinux (min requirements 128mb PC & a 500mhz processor)
a b 5 Linux
June 6, 2012 12:05:49 PM

He actually says he's using the Lubuntu desktop package on 10.04, that's only just out of LTS so hardly ancient.
June 7, 2012 1:14:55 AM

Nhasian beat me to it, but I'll add a vote for puppy. It's tiny, it's current and supported. I ran it for a couple of years on an old P3 until the mobo finally died last year, and resurrected a few older boxes with it. I've also heard good things about DSL but never worked with it much personally as puppy kept getting it done.
a b 5 Linux
June 7, 2012 6:21:03 PM

You may wish to take a gander at bodhizazens's blog regarding RAM usage -- he quantifies (such as this method is) what boils down to quality of usage on an old limited-resource PC of Linux; it's what I have been saying for years now -- antiX and #! first, followed closely by bodhi, then peppermint and lubuntu.

BTW, it really has more to do with Desktop Environment or lack thereof and which distro uses what. Devs have a say-so, as well.

Cheers!
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 16, 2012 3:11:01 PM

chamaecyparis said:
I had over 40 antiquated PCs donated to my NPO and made ten usable ones out of the bunch, of which were three PIII machines. I used either antiX or the newer, Debian-based, Statler version of CrunchBang (i486 ver.) on them, with success.

My experience has shown antiX to be a winner in these regard. Check it out yourself, however. The newest version, antiX-M11 is said to be even better than the M8.5 ver i am familiar with and have had on a friend's old Dell for over a year now, without fail.

University of Crete mirror is a real good source for downloading not only antiX and its "parent," MEPIS, but others, as well.

Best wishes!



can you install antix on pc or you must mount it every time from cd?
a b 5 Linux
August 17, 2012 3:22:56 PM

DEL double post, please.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 17, 2012 5:09:50 PM

sorry, with what program should I open it?
a b 5 Linux
August 19, 2012 12:12:38 AM

Quote:
sorry, with what program should I open it?

On boot, go into BIOS (hit Delete, usually)
Change Boot Order to boot the CD/ROM
Boot to Install Disk
August 19, 2012 11:04:01 AM

chamaecyparis said:
On boot, go into BIOS (hit Delete, usually)
Change Boot Order to boot the CD/ROM
Boot to Install Disk


hahahhahah I know how to set up boot, I DONT KNOW HOW TO INSTAL THIS VERSION OF Linux... there is no any install or something like that... there is only desktop blabla blabla client instal but it requerst some pass to log on to root...
September 4, 2012 12:15:19 AM

My first suggestion would be arch linux. I have arch installed on my computer running 200 mb at boot. This is with KDE installed. I imagine using xfce or another light weight manager would make this even lighter. Arch linux however will take time to setup. Once you get the initial setup down its pretty straight forward but will take time to learn. If a learning curve is sometime you want to avoid then this distro is no for you. Once again another good distro if you are willing to accept a learning curve is gentoo. I use gentoo for my ps3 server. This has in my opinion about the same learning curve as above. This distro is capable of optimizinf its software for your machines though. Ussually i wouldnt recommend this for newer machines but for older machines ( such as yours) the optimizations should help. One thing to note about gentoo is that everything is installed from source witch will take some time. But if you are willing to put up with this then the optimization could greatly help you. Once again usually gentoo doesnt help on modern machines due to hardware being way above where or software is; however, since you are using older hardware these optimizations could help you see performance increases.

Now i understand if you dont want to put the time into this project that the two distros above require. So ill list a few that come to minds that dont require to larg of a learning curve.

First off are these two: Lubuntu and Xubuntu.
This is simpily Ubuntu that uses light weight graphical interfaces. Ive run Xubuntu on a machine with a pentium III on it and it worked just fine.

Puppy linux. You can choose this. This was designed for older/weaker machines.

I have heard good things abot crunchbag although i have never used it.

Anything with fluxbox as your graphical interface will run just fine too.

a b 5 Linux
September 4, 2012 10:41:05 PM

paser90 said:
hahahhahah I know how to set up boot, I DONT KNOW HOW TO INSTAL THIS VERSION OF Linux... there is no any install or something like that... there is only desktop blabla blabla client instal but it requerst some pass to log on to root...


Sorry but I was gone for a couple weeks.

Which version are you installing, paser90?
September 9, 2012 5:02:14 AM

I would run puppy linux on a computer with these kind of specs its incredibly light weight, a full install is 100mb
!