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Hello, I'm a college student and I'm not at the house to often anymore so I cannot always help my dad with the desktop computer. It's an HP Pavilion 753n with 512mb ram pentium 4 processor and an aftermarked ATI Radeon 9600 series AGP graphics card with 128mb of memory. Anyhow the computer is starting to show it's age, going on 7yo, and is begining to lag a bit with Windows XP, and I'm over compulsive about computer maintenence so it's not an issue of configuration.
I tied Opensuse 11 on the desktop and for a while it ran fine but even that began to lag a bit over time.
My father is not knowlegable on computer use other than what he needs to do in Windows XP so I need a distro that will be very similar to XP but runs much smoother and faster. It doesn't need any real extras as far as software, any suggestions would be great.
Kubuntu will be very similar; you can even configure KDE to behave more like winduhs (need to double-click rather than single-click icons, use similar window decorations, etc). You may need to download some bits and pieces from the web to fiddle with the look of things.
Some things will be different no matter what; for example, no c: drive. You also get a "home" directory - the equivalent for the MS NT series is the Documents And Settings\Username directories. Other problems may come up when you plug in removable storage devices from cameras to USB sticks to video discs - some more deliberate tweaking may be required to get just everything to work as a MS user might expect.
"Linspire" strives to look like MSWin, but *nix users everywhere say it also strives to be just as defective (poor default settings which are a security risk).
I'd suspect anything with KDE would be a good start; the control panel even allows you to change quite a few settings without using a text editor on the configuration files.
If a system is starting to lag then have a look at what is chewing up RAM/CPU/Disk and fix the problem.
To make a system fast just remove/disable anything that's running that you don't need.
To make it look like windows just skin your preferred desktop.
Better to learn to make the system do what you want rather than switching distributions until you happen to find one that does what you want for now, though starting with something that is barking up the same tree does make life easier.
Linux is about you taking control, you will have to learn a little but it is completely modular by design and will not fight you once you step up to the plate.
Your choice of distro will then come down to that which you feel best facilitates the way you like to run things.