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I am interested in turning my Dell Dimension 2350 desktop into a Linux machine and was wondering what would be the fastest and easiest to use version of Linux, given the firepower that the 2350 has? Below are the specs.
Any 32 bit flavor of Linux will run on it. A lighter windows manager like fluxbox, openbox, etc. will give you better performance. KDE 4 with plasma will drag on it.
Some videos will play on it depending on the video hardware. 1080p videos won't.
I still use P4 box's with FreeBSD and Arch Linux on them.
The more RAM the better, a good nvidea graphics card like the 5400 that was used back then will do better than the integrated chips.
That has a PATA interface so you can use up to a 250GB hard drive.
Movies will encode to H264 at about 30 or so fps.
It will be usable, not for a media center, but for internet, mail, 480p videos etc.
Lubuntu might be a pretty good choice for less experienced users. I have lubuntu (lxde desktop) on an Asus eee 900, that one has 1G memory, no better processor and a quite small screen (9"). Boots fast and works well.
But I agree with teckk that pretty much anything will do, given you choose a light-weigth desktop and do not run too much memory-hungry stuff on it. If you pick a lightweight distro, you get the advantage of faster boot times and lower memory footprint as full distros tend to load a whole lot of stuff, just in case.
All of the above choices are good suggestions. I'd have to ask, what do you want to do with this system? That may be most important after ram amount. Some of the faster distro's may not have all the application choices. For example Slitaz is a good distro for very low resource systems and comes with a lot of apps but not all can be run. Lubuntu and the lightweight copies of the larger distro's may bog down your system if you want to add in all the extra stuff.
For a p4 I'd say any mainstream distro with a lightweight window manager would be good. Max out the RAM though.
You might run into problems with video if it has an i845 video chipset, which was pretty common in Dells at that time; some of the issues have been fixed in newer kernels/xorg versions, so a rolling release like Arch might end up performing better than a more stable release like Debian in this case. You'd just have to test it out and see.