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I'm looking for a distribution that can work on a relatively low-end computer (P4 500 MHz / ~350 MB RAM). I really want to soak in the environment, so a shell-based distro would be nice, but not one that's too complicated. I'm not much into GNOME, so KDE would be nice, but not absolutely necessary. Also, I won't be connected to the internet (at least, not that often).
500MHz is plenty, there are people on here running their desktops on less. If you want something minimal on there I'd say Arch, Slackware or maybe Debian. If you wanted to go source-based (compile everything, fast end result slow to get there) I'd say Gentoo, Crux or a BSD.
I would say debian also. You should not have too much trouble running kde on those specs, you will have to turn off the thrills provided with it but it should not run too ba d. Alternativly you could try xfce instead of kde. Ubuntu have a release named Xubuntu that uses xfce as its desktop.