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With 512MB of RAM I recommend a more lightweight system, Gnome2/MATE, LXDE or XFCE would be fine on that system. Assuming that the Centrino 1.8GHz is actually a Pentium M you will need a distribution that comes with a kernel that does not have PAE enabled. I would give Fuduntu a try, or Debian.
Hi Nabeel, I'm running debian 6.0.7 on a compaq n600c 1.2ghz proc 512mb ram, 30gb hdd and it runs smooth. other than not being able to use compiz i have no complaints. i would agree with TobiSGD and check out xfce and lxde as they are lightweight.
well I was running Lubuntu on it. It does run fine BUT the nvidia graphics chip is one hell of a Pain in the *back. Its an old Geforce 4400 chip and sadly the opensource drivers don't work that well with it.
I've tried PClinuxOs 2009 and that too wasn't helping with display either. My major problem is the dropping support of older nvidia cards by nvidia (96xx driver). I had this card running preety good with 9.10 , 10.04. but from 10.10 the problem begun. The proper driver for 10.10 was released in mid 2011. And since canonical has dropped support for the 10.04 i can't continue with that. I am running lubuntu 12.04 on it but the open nvidia driver isn't doing a good job. The videos run fine, I can browse the web on it but that's about it. the mouse pointer is distorted, the ltitle bars of windows are clutered. The pages in abiword are cluttered. so It preety much functions but not in the way it was with 10.04 installed.
Ubuntu seems to be better with modern computers, even if the GUI is changed.
For just 512MB, you could look at Fuduntu, Salix, or Vector.
As far as video support goes, I don't have practical experience (this computer only has motherboard video) but NVIDIA seems to have legacy drivers available and your chip is listed http://www.nvidia.com/object/IO_32667.html
Alternatively, since you're not going to use this machine for gaming, couldn't you just use a VESA driver?