I don't think which distro has a helluvalot to do with it, personally. It will behoove you, however, to go with a minimal or base install of a distro that has has either no DE or a light one up to XFCE as the heaviest.
I would lean towards a Debian-based but a Slackware-based distro like Salix
xfce would work fine if you do not mind trading a little work for customizability; debian, on the othe hand has huge reposoitories from which to choose apps. I'd look at antiX-M11 (download base install here
) because it is snappy on almost any old PC or laptop and has a great support team (as does salix).