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Old 04-03-2011, 03:02 AM   #1
justinp526
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Distro recommendation for a low power desktop?


I need a light weight distro to run on an older eMachine desktop. It is model T1742, runs on a 1.6GHz socket 478 P4 with 256k L2 and 400MHz FSB (NO HT). Mobo does NOT allow for anything faster (I've read about owners who have upgraded and had the mobo short out, catch fire). Currently has 512MB DDR.. only 2 DIMMs and both are filled.. setup is 2x 256MB, 1 stick is DDR333 and the other is DDR266. It seems to like running DDR266 at best. Using all DDR333 or DDR400 the system either won't boot, or will boot to error screen/BSOD. I may be able to swap out the DDR333 stick of 256MB for a stick of 512MB to get total up to 768MB, but not sure right now (can report back later about that).

System is currently running on stock installed WinXP Home with SP3. The problem is that there may be a virus or spyware, something that has caused harm. I'm unable to get into most system properties and settings (specifically, msconfig which gives and error that Windows can not find it). I'm unable to repair as there is no recovery partition and I do not have the Windows XP disc.

Figure I'll just switch it over to Linux (which, is a much smarter choice anyways) and probably get much better use of this system. I've been suggested Slitaz by some Linux users at another forum, but I have no experience with that one. Should I give it a try? Or does someone have another suggestion?

As a side note, this is just a temporary solution until I get a new computer. So most likely about a month at most. My higher power machine (listed in signature) is dying, it has a failing south bridge. Killed off a brand new PCI wireless card and SATA HDD on me.
 
Old 04-03-2011, 03:07 AM   #2
repo
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Puppy, tiny linux, debian, slackware, vector linux, lubuntu...
As long as you use a lightweight windowmanager like XFCE, fluxbox....

Kind regards

Last edited by repo; 04-03-2011 at 03:16 AM.
 
Old 04-03-2011, 03:39 AM   #3
justinp526
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Thanks a bunch!
I'll look into those and see which may work best.
 
Old 04-03-2011, 05:04 AM   #4
cascade9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justinp526 View Post
I need a light weight distro to run on an older eMachine desktop. It is model T1742, runs on a 1.6GHz socket 478 P4 with 256k L2 and 400MHz FSB (NO HT). Mobo does NOT allow for anything faster (I've read about owners who have upgraded and had the mobo short out, catch fire). Currently has 512MB DDR.. only 2 DIMMs and both are filled.. setup is 2x 256MB, 1 stick is DDR333 and the other is DDR266. It seems to like running DDR266 at best. Using all DDR333 or DDR400 the system either won't boot, or will boot to error screen/BSOD. I may be able to swap out the DDR333 stick of 256MB for a stick of 512MB to get total up to 768MB, but not sure right now (can report back later about that).
I've never seen an emachine system in the metal, but from what I've seen online they are fairly low spec budget machines. Typically the low spec achines have low wattage power supplies, poor voltage controls, etc. So while I'm a little surprised that upgrading the CPU would blow the mobo, its more than possible.

Moving to 768MB? Sure, if you have some DDR hanging around you can swap in/out to see if it works. I wouldnt spend anything on a system you are planning on replacing soon though.

Siltaz would work, but from my limited use f slitaz its a bit different to the more 'major' distros. If you have the bandwidth (and time!) to spare, and are only planning on running linux on that machine, sure, why not? If you are planning on 'geting into' linux I'd go for a more major distro. Siltaz is made for low-RAM, low-spec machines, and you wont notice much, if any, difference in speed between siltaz and other distros on a faster machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by repo View Post
Puppy, tiny linux, debian, slackware, vector linux, lubuntu...
As long as you use a lightweight windowmanager like XFCE, fluxbox....

Kind regards
+1, in general. I will add though-

Puppy is very basic, and harder to get nonstandard programs going than other distros.

Slackware is great, but its a harder install than a lot of other distros. Great if you want to get into linux more, not great if its just something to run till you get a new machine and OS.

Lubuntu (and the newer *buntus in general) has been known to have problems with i845 chipsets/video. How much of that is due to user error, I dont know for sure, I havent run a newer *buntu variant on a i845 machine for years now. I'd guess that your machine would be running i845 chipset at least, and possibly video as well, but a quick search for emachines T1742 didnt give me detailed spec sheet.

Also, not all distros uisng a 'light' DEs (like lxde, or xfce) run well on older systems. I ran PClinuxOS Xfce on a very similar system (P4 1.7, 768MB, GF4 Ti) and is was horrible. Really slow.

I'd probably go for debian 6.0 Xfce myself. Debian 6.0 Lxde would work as well, but I dont like Lxde much. I'll admit my bias, I mostly use debain. That opinion could change if you are using a wifi adapter that has poor linux support, from what I've seen its harder to get wifi cards/dongles with poor support going with debain than some other distros (tiny core and puppy would be just as hard to get going with wifi with poor support as well)

Last edited by cascade9; 04-03-2011 at 05:07 AM.
 
Old 04-03-2011, 09:22 AM   #5
MTK358
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Quote:
Originally Posted by repo View Post
Puppy, tiny linux, debian, slackware, vector linux, lubuntu...
Arch is also fast with a lightweight desktop. But it requires more Linux experience to install.
 
Old 04-03-2011, 09:25 AM   #6
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#! (Crunchbang) and AntiX may suit your needs.
 
Old 04-03-2011, 09:29 AM   #7
linus72
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I have ArchBang running on my old 160mb RAM 266mhz pentiumII Toshiba portege 7000CT and it runs great
http://archbang.org/

SalixOS is a GUI livecd/installcd based on Slackware 13.1
supposedly a tad easier to install/use then Slackware, maybe
http://www.salixos.org/wiki/index.php/Home
 
Old 04-03-2011, 10:34 AM   #8
bluebox
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I would tend to some flavour of Ubuntu or Debian, too.

"Linux" runs well on 1,6 GHz Atom CPUs and 600 MHz Arm CPUs, so "Linux" is not the problem.

The Desktop is the problem. Ubuntu comes with some desktop flavours and Debian has a bunch of desktops included and you can install all of them and see which one works best for you.

You don't want the most lightweight Linux distribution to run as fast as possible on your machine ... you want a comfortable distribution with a broad software repository you can choose from, and easy installation, if I got you right.

512 MB should be enough for some surfing and average desktop use, so go with it before you invest more money. You will want a 32-Bit distribution.

Be prepared that your hard disk might be failing. That could be the reason for your erratic Windows behaviour.

Be aware of the "Trinity" project. It will give you good old KDE 3 for Ubuntu, and with some tweaks, for Debian.
 
Old 04-03-2011, 12:16 PM   #9
DavidMcCann
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There a several distros that will run on 256MB. The easiest are CrunchBang, Mepis, and Xubuntu. Salix would be my choice, but it's a little less aimed at the beginner.
 
Old 04-03-2011, 12:58 PM   #10
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SliTaz is a great choice, highly recommended! Also try Puppy, CrunchBang, AntiX, etc.

At the end of the day, more resources are consumed by applications (browser, office, multimedia, games, etc) than by the operating system itself. So long as you don't open a dozen applications at the same time, your computer specs should be good enough for a wide variety of distros.
 
Old 04-04-2011, 02:55 PM   #11
justinp526
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Well I had a spare stick of 512MB DDR333 that wasn't being used, swapped it in exchange for one of the 2 sticks of 256MB. Its showing 768MB in BIOS so looks good.

Got lubuntu 10.10 installed and running now, so far seems to be a great improvement over Windows XP. But of course I will have to keep an eye on it to be sure all is well.

bluebox, thanks for pointing out that failing hdd could be culprit to problems! I usually over look that possibility and end up with a dead drive. In lubuntu disk utility it is showing SMART status is good. I will of course still download and run the tools from hdd manufacture (Seagate in this one).

No way would I spend any money on such an old system. For the cost to upgrade this one even a little bit, I could use the same amount of money to just build a new one.
 
  


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