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Old 01-19-2010, 07:36 PM   #1
JMW4th
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Best Distro for Old, Crappy Laptop? (HP Pavilion zt1130)


OK, so I got a laptop for free. It's an old POS, but it was free, and it basically works for pretty much what I am going to use it for. Web Browsing, Cloud Computing type stuff.

NOTE: I am an extreme Google Whore. To paraphrase Jay-Z: Google Mail, Google Docs, all Google Everything. lol. when considering my question, please keep this in mind.

anyhow, this is what I am working with:

HP Pavilion zt1130
Windows XP SP3
Intel Celeron Processor 1133MHz
684MB RAM
S3 Graphics Twister 16MB
20GB Hard Drive
DirectX 9.0c
Linksys Wireless-G Network Adapter

as I mentioned above, I use Google Stuff for my primary computing Needs. GMail, Google Docs for Office stuff, Reader for RSS, etc. with Google Gears to make these apps usable offline. I also use LastFM, Twitter, etc. My preferred browser is Chrome, but I can settle for Firefox if necessary.

I am trying to figure out if getting off of Windows XP, and switching to Linux might help with boosting the performance of this old, crappy machine(does the OS even matter in regards to this?), and maybe push it more towards being more of a Cloud Computing machine. and which Distro would probably be best for me and my computer.

I know absolutely nothing about Linux beyond common, basic stuff. So anything that requires some complex set up is not what I am looking for. I'd also need a decently easy to use GUI. But I am unsure about hardware compatibility and things like that. I don't wanna wipe my HD, and break the computer trying to install Linux, you know?

Any advice here is very welcome.
 
Old 01-19-2010, 07:59 PM   #2
onebuck
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Hi,

Welcome to LQ!

First, tone the language down. Read the LQ rules. You will get more aid when you present the queries in an intelligent form to the forum.

Not that slow of a laptop. I would try a LiveCD from 'The LiveCD List', to see how the machine handles. Be aware running from the LiveCD can seem slow. Some allow you to load to RAM.

I prefer Slackware and find it to be very stable and reliable.

Just a few links to aid you;

Linux Documentation Project
Rute Tutorial & Exposition
Linux Command Guide
Utimate Linux Newbie Guide
LinuxSelfHelp
Getting Started with Linux
Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide
Linux Home Networking


The above links and others can be found at 'Slackware-Links'. More than just SlackwareŽ links!
 
Old 01-19-2010, 08:03 PM   #3
JMW4th
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Thanks for the response.

I've been told to try distributions called "DSL", "PuppyLinux" or "gOS". of the three I've looked at, gOS looks most interesting to me. Is it still actively supported?
 
Old 01-19-2010, 08:17 PM   #4
onebuck
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Hi,

Your laptop would work fine with puppy or DSL.

More power on that laptop than you think. That's why I suggest that you try some 'LiveCD' distributions to see how things feel. Plus you can ID the hardware along with drivers.

 
Old 01-19-2010, 08:26 PM   #5
lwasserm
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Until about 1.5 years ago my everyday computer was a Pentium 3 650Mhz Laptop with 512MB memory. I ran the normal ubuntu gnome distribution version 8.04. It won't do some of the graphics special effects because of hardware limitations, but otherwise performance was very acceptable. So acceptable that I wouldn't even bother trying to run something like DSL or puppy on a similar or better system. (Of course YMMV) IMHO DSL and the other "small" distros are more geared to something like a Pentium II with 256MB.

If I could make a suggestion, for $40 or so you can get a 40GB or larger laptop drive from an ebay vendor, or for maybe $60 or so get a 60 or 80GB from Newegg. You can remove the original drive and keep the XP installation intact, install the new drive, and try different distributions. Repartitioning the original drive and dual booting is an option too, but the larger drive will give you more flexibility, especially if you keep a lot of music or other media/large data files on the laptop.

Last edited by lwasserm; 01-19-2010 at 08:29 PM.
 
Old 01-19-2010, 08:57 PM   #6
linus72
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with those specs I would go with up to date, lots of available software distros like Debian, Ubuntu, or Slack

DSL, and Puppy have quirks
DSL is dead anyway...

I'd go with debian dude
 
Old 01-19-2010, 09:05 PM   #7
cantab
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LOL, that laptop's hardly old and c----y. Mine's lower specced.

684 Megabytes of RAM seems an odd figure though, are you sure that's correct?

The hard drive is on the small side. It'll hold an operating system with plenty of applications no problem, but if you want to start putting movies or music on it the space will go pretty quickly. Then again, since you say you live in the web, that may not be an issue for you.

You should have no problem running a 'standard' distro on it, just disable the fancy graphics effects. If you do want something lightweight, I'm a fan of Vector Linux Light; it's a truly lightweight environment capable of running on a low-specced machine, yet it's a full distro with proper installation and automatic updates (unlike say DSL or Puppy, which are primarily designed as LiveCDs), and the repos are large and diverse (again, unlike say Puppy).
 
Old 01-19-2010, 11:22 PM   #8
JMW4th
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I see. so my laptop isn't as bad as I thought eh?

anyone know anything about gOS? seems to be a cloud-ish version of Ubuntu as far as I can tell.

is it still actively supported?
 
Old 01-20-2010, 01:12 AM   #9
lupusarcanus
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Its a bad laptop when it comes to a horrendous OS

Its a decent machine for Linux. Lucky! I want one for free! Send it over here! I'll take it!

That can run most modern distributions fairly well and some of the more minmal distrbutions like a Dream.

Try Zenwalk, Sidux, Xubuntu. Those three will run fast. If you are proficient with computers there is Debian, Arch and Slackware.

You can run many others...you don't need to confine yourself too much.

For that lappy, its easier to list what it can't run than what it can run.

Avoid Kubuntu, Fedora, Sabayon, and openSUSE.

There are a few distros out there meant for Windows refugees...Mandriva and PCLinuxOS.

Have Fun!

Last edited by lupusarcanus; 01-20-2010 at 01:13 AM.
 
Old 01-20-2010, 02:51 AM   #10
JMW4th
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thanks everyone!

going to look into Xubuntu as well. I'm reading that it is designed for older computers.

just want to make sure that my wireless card (Linksys WPC54g v 3.1 Wireless-G Network Card) will work without having to have a ridiculous amount of technical knowledge before i make the switch. i don't have ethernet in my house, I depend heavily on being able to connect to wireless networks at hotspots and the library and such.
 
Old 01-20-2010, 03:08 AM   #11
cantab
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMW4th View Post
just want to make sure that my wireless card (Linksys WPC54g v 3.1 Wireless-G Network Card) will work without having to have a ridiculous amount of technical knowledge before i make the switch.
Check with a LiveCD. You might want to use one of the less demanding ones like DSL or Puppy; the LiveCDs of full distros tend to run very slowly on middle-aged hardware.
 
Old 01-20-2010, 03:25 AM   #12
JMW4th
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i used UNetbootin to try gOS, and it did not work.

just need to find some clear directions on how to make the xp drivers work. don't think there are linux drivers for it.
 
Old 01-20-2010, 06:01 PM   #13
jefro
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gOS is kind of neat, I like it. Last was 3.1 not that long ago. Worked slow on QEMU but should be OK on that laptop.

I still like DSL.

You might want to look at Puppy.

See also Vector and many of the popular distros listed at distro watch that have a version with a lighter window manager like xbuntu and such.

Install them all and see what you like best.

If you want to load on usb then see pendrivelinux.com

I prefer liveusbcreator.

Last edited by jefro; 01-20-2010 at 06:46 PM.
 
Old 01-20-2010, 06:14 PM   #14
snowpine
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Puppy is cool because you can run it entirely from CD without altering your existing Windows install. This will give you time to experiment with Linux without making a permanent commitment. My advice is, spend some time experimenting with different distributions, find the one that feels like "home" to you. Your computer specs are not that bad, you should be able to run just about anything (though not necessarily at blazing fast speed).
 
Old 01-24-2010, 11:09 PM   #15
JMW4th
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Figure I'd give a little update on my status here.

I've settled on Puppy Linux. I like it a lot. it's small, but still packs a lot. It has great hardware compatibility (pretty much everything I have worked right off the bat, without any difficult set-up, even my wireless card). I'm running Google Chrome, but Gears apparently does not work in Linux, so I will have to wait some more for Offline compatibility. I'm cool with that.

besides Chrome, I'm basically running on defaults for now. Abiword, Gnumeric. not sure if I actually want to install OpenOffice, seeing that I use Google Docs for most stuff. If I am offline, I'll use Abiword for now. I really don't do much that requires a really heavy Office Suite.

Got WINE, haven't bothered to play with it yet though. I will eventually. Having a little bit of trouble getting JavaRuntime properly installed. got Flash already.

Gotta say, I really like the Virtual Desktops. that's a pretty neat feature.

after trying several different Window Managers, I've settled (for now) on OpenBox+FBPanel and WBar.

thanks everyone for the kind responses here.
 
  


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