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Old 08-22-2005, 09:21 PM   #1
trademac
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Best distro for older PC


Hi guys,

I was just wondering if anyone could give me some advice regarding the best distro for my needs.

I am a newbie to linux so would quite like a distro that is easy to use and install.

I am installing linux on an older PC so this needs to be taken into account.

Specs:

PII 450mhz
128 mb Ram
16 mb graphics card

I would be using the computer mainly for word processing, web surfing and watching dvds.

Any help would be appreciated.

Cheers.
 
Old 08-22-2005, 09:24 PM   #2
bosewicht
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lol...thats not really a older PC per se. I'm running debian on a 100mhz laptop with 16 megs of ram. Most distros will work fine for you, but for speeds sake use a lite desktop like XFCE. There are some tables out there that show the memory usage for diff DE and gnome or kde will work for you, but will lag and with 16 megs of video, you would be better off with xfce, flux, icewm, any of the lighter DE. Otherwise you shouldn't have much of a prob.

Personally I would stay away from mandriva, fedora, the heavy distros, and look more at the leaners ones, debian, slack, etc. They are speedy on "older" hardware.

Last edited by bosewicht; 08-22-2005 at 09:27 PM.
 
Old 08-22-2005, 09:34 PM   #3
trademac
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Cheers,

I am a bit worried about stuffing up the install though. Are the suggested distros easy enough to install?
 
Old 08-22-2005, 09:46 PM   #4
SlackerLX
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Exactly as bosewicht pointed it doesn't matter what distro. What mostly matters is Desktop Environment. Try choosing smth lightweight as Fluxbox which both light and beautiful.
 
Old 08-22-2005, 10:12 PM   #5
IsaacKuo
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Normally, I recommend Mepis for a newbie. However, Mepis is too much of a memory hog, and will not run efficiently with only 128megs of RAM.

I suggest trying out Knoppix at first. It's a LiveCD as well as a hard drive install CD, and it has excellent hardware detection capabilities. Unfortunately, it is not entirely compatible with Debian, so IMO you'll eventually want to switch to true Debian.

Knoppix is nice because it comes with a lot of useful software preconfigured and also comes with a choice of many desktop environments/window managers. This makes it easy for you to try out a big variety of what Linux has to offer.

Both Knoppix and Debian will run fine with 128megs of RAM, even running the heavyweight GNOME and KDE desktop environments with sufficient efficiency.

You can boost speed with KDE very significantly by turning off anti-aliased fonts and other eye candy. KDE comes with a friendly "initial setup wizard" (that you can run any time), which gives you a simple slider control ranging from "minimum eye candy" to "maximum eye candy". This makes it easy for even a newbie to quickly "optimize" KDE for slower systems.
 
Old 08-22-2005, 11:44 PM   #6
Hosiah
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Um, I wouldn't recommend Debian for a newbie install...and I'd hesitate to recommend Slackware, though I found it easy. Slackware is indeed light on your resources, and is my fave distro. But the text-mode installer seems to scare people for some reason...

You should also look at what desktop you use from the distro. KDE and Gnome hog memory, Blackbox and Fluxbox and IceWM run light as a feather, Window Maker and XFCE are somewhere in between. And there's always TWM, the lightest GUI of all, but that's a bad joke!

Damn Small Linux and Puppy Linux are two viable options, at least for web browsing and word processing. Now, watching DVDs (on old hardware?), I think DSL comes with a movie player, and I'm not so sure about Puppy. You might have to install it special. Damn Small installs in just 50 MB, Puppy takes about 60 MB. Both boot, power-on to GUI desktop, in a minute flat. And Peanut Linux has been making some noise lately, but I haven't checked it out personally.

You can go to Distro-watch http://distrowatch.com/ , click "search" in the middle top menu box to get the distro-search, and then in the search boxes, select "Old Computers" under "Distribution Category" and click "refresh" . Voila!
 
Old 08-22-2005, 11:59 PM   #7
IsaacKuo
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Debian earned a reputation for being difficult to install which was deserved back when it was still Woody (version 3.0). But since version 3.1 has been released (Sarge), the old reputation is no longer deserved.

I don't think either DSL or Puppy are the best choices. With 128megs of RAM and a 450mhz processor, there's no reason for him to limit himself so much. Both of the major heavyweight desktop environments will run just fine on that.
 
Old 08-23-2005, 12:00 AM   #8
aysiu
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Quote:
Originally posted by SlackerLX
Exactly as bosewicht pointed it doesn't matter what distro. What mostly matters is Desktop Environment. Try choosing smth lightweight as Fluxbox which both light and beautiful.
I agree. Pick whatever distro's easiest to install. Then, just use XFCE, IceWM, Fluxbox, or some lightweight desktop/window manager.
 
Old 08-23-2005, 04:08 AM   #9
trademac
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Thanks guys, all comments really appreciated. I'm leaning towards Debian at the moment. I presume it is relatively easy to choose which desktop/window manager to utilise. Is it an option during the install?
 
Old 08-23-2005, 04:56 AM   #10
theYinYeti
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Quote:
Originally posted by IsaacKuo Debian earned a reputation for being difficult to install which was deserved back when it was still Woody (version 3.0). But since version 3.1 has been released (Sarge), the old reputation is no longer deserved.
Are you sure? ...

My knowledge is centered on Mandrake/Mandriva, and I'm a newbie when it comes to Debian. Last week I tried installing latest Debian CD on a laptop that does not boot from CD.
In Mandriva, it's just a matter of writing a single boot floppy, and normal CD thereafter starts as usual with easy steps.
In Debian, after trying the "single floppy" method (I used cd-drivers.img... it seemed logical), I quickly saw it did not work, and then used 2 floppies (and then I had to make an educated guess to know that the floppy images to use were boot.img and root.img, as the documentation says nothing about that), but I saw I would get nowhere, because whatever I did, I ended having to choose between FTP and HTTP. So I started again with 3 floppies (boot, root, and cd-drivers). Then something happened: I saw the installer loading many usefull modules, and then... freeze... dead

So no, installing Debian seems not to be as easy as installing other major distributions can be. I'm not saying it is a bad distribution, and I actually want to use it, but it is harder than Mandriva, Ubuntu...

Yves.

bosewicht, I'd be gratefull if you could give me tips on how you installed Debian on your laptop, which is surely even older than mine My email is gablin -at- fr.fm
 
Old 08-23-2005, 05:25 AM   #11
floppywhopper
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we have a pentium II 450 running Mandrake 10.0
with 256 meg ram but only a 4 meg vid card
and Mandrake 10 is dead easy to install

no real problems except KDE is a bit slow
use fluxbox or similar

if you find it still running slow
just turn off any unnecessary services

you might have a few problems trying to watch DVDs
on a system with those specs though

floppy
 
Old 08-23-2005, 05:33 AM   #12
mjjzf
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Without hesitation, I would recommend VectorLinux; but I would also recommend having a slightly experienced Linux user looking over your shoulder when you install it!
It is a bit tricky with installation, but easy to use. And very fast. Still, it is a little easier than installing Slackware, which is the best choice for wringing performance out of older hardware. VL is based on Slackware, though.
 
Old 08-23-2005, 05:39 AM   #13
theYinYeti
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On topic now...

I now have a newer PC for watching DVDs, but when I did not, I used to watch DVDs on my PII350 PC with 192MB RAM and a rage128-based graphics-card with 16MB-RAM.
However, I had to create a different boot-level (easy actually), in which only the strict minimum (sound, usb, X) was started, and Xine was auto-launched in fullscreen without a window manager.
It was not perfect but actually usable

I still have this PC, and I run Mandriva on it. It's still my main PC, and my wife and I usually both use it at the same time (the fore-mentioned laptop is used as an X terminal).

Yves.
 
Old 08-23-2005, 06:33 AM   #14
Hosiah
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Quote:
So no, installing Debian seems not to be as easy as installing other major distributions can be. I'm not saying it is a bad distribution, and I actually want to use it, but it is harder than Mandriva, Ubuntu...
I had a similar horror story, which prompted my comment. Perhaps there is some totem we could post, offering we could burn, or public self-flaggellation we could symbolically undergo when we make these kinds of comments, so Debian fans do not take it personally when we suggest their distribution is a hair short of the alabaster pinacle of divine perfection. We *know* Debian really is superior in every single other way, but yeah, even the new Debian Sarge installer might be a bit much to go through for somebody who just mostly wants to do three things with their machine. Damn Small Linux, Debian-based, installs in about five seconds with about five questions to answer, and has the same apt-get so you can happily download away whatever else you need, hence my recommend. It is only my two cents worth, which devalues to .0001 cents worth because I'm functionally impaired because I don't use Debian. We all knew to take this into account, right?

As another poster pointed out, Vector Linux also has a good name in the "running on second-hand machines" category, though it be beneath Debian. Vector is based on Slackware, my favorite distro, though it be beneath Debian.
 
Old 08-23-2005, 06:36 AM   #15
tomj88
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I would recommend debian, but before I was trying to get an OS on a pretty old IBM thinkpad (pentium 150mhz proccessor, don't know any other specs) and all I could get on it was openBSD which I ran without X, but this isn't really ideal for watching DVD's. I hear slackware is great for older hardware, and I didn't mind the installation, so maybe try that (and use xfce4)
 
  


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