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Old 07-19-2013, 10:02 PM   #1
stevefoobar
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Best Linux Distro for an Old Acer Aspire 3000 Laptop


I’m considering a Linux version for an old laptop because it is starting to limp along under the weight of Windows XP SP3 and the constant updates. I haven’t even looked at Linux since some of the very first versions were made available, so I would greatly appreciate some advice and help getting up to date. I presume things have changed a lot and indeed have gotten much easier and more “mainstream”.

I’m very technically proficient with software/hardware/networking under Windows. I’m a former UNIX guy from a long, long time ago but remember very little, even though I was quite proficient at the time. We’re talking pre-windows days here!

This particular laptop is an Acer 3000 originally designed for Windows XP SP2. It has an AMD Sempron 2800+ (1.6 GHz) processor with 2 GB of RAM and a 38 GB drive currently formatted as FAT32.

The remaining hardware is as follows:
Audio: Realtek AC'97
Video: SiS M760GX
Network: SiS 900-Based PCI Fast Ethernet
Wireless: Broadcom 802.11g

I would prefer to be able to run Wine so that I could use Windows apps—for starters MS Access 2003 and MS Office 2007 Suite (although I would consider OpenOffice if it’s compatible enough) as well as Firefox. I would also need for the Linux OS to be able to see the shared folders on my local networked Windows machines (both Windows XP SP3 and Windows 7 machines) and the Windows machines to see the Linux shared folders.

If so, what is the “best” (whatever that really means) version of Linux you would recommend for this purpose and hardware? I really don’t want to fiddle around constantly with the OS or have to compile my own executables, find my own drivers, etc.

Thanks a lot!
 
Old 07-19-2013, 10:40 PM   #2
yancek
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You will likely find that the 'best' is generally whatever the person recommending is using. Most full distributions recommend a minimum of 1GB of memory so you are alright there. The processor is a little dated but should not really be a problem and I would expect for the purposes you indicate most any Linux would work. You can use whatever web search engine you use to search 'linux chooser' and get some sites where you input a little info and they make a recommendation. The choices are pretty limited. You could also go to the 'distrowatch' site which has a listing of numerous Linux distributions and a page ranking section listing the top 100 distributions, links to the home page of all.

Sharing folders you would need to set up sharing on windows and install Samba on your Linux machine. Lots of info and tutorials on that here at LQ and on the internet.

The most commonly used distributions are Ubuntu and its many derivatives including Linux Mint. Something like Lubuntu would probably be better as it is lighter. PCLinux is good and you can get it with xfce Desktop which is lighter (yes, what I use). Another option that I think is really good if you really want to learn Linux is Slackware, the oldest Linux distribution still being used. Learning curve here, somewhat like going from the auto with the automatic transmission, power windows, etc. to driving an 18 wheeler. The distrowatch site and googling 'Linux on older computers' should give you a lot of info.
 
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Old 07-19-2013, 10:50 PM   #3
MCMLXXIII
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Distrowatch has a nice primer that might help you. Click on the following link. ---> Major Distributions
 
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Old 07-19-2013, 10:53 PM   #4
snowpine
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Welcome! Here is a nice comparison of the top 10 distros: http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major

Just pick one that fits your personality, and choose lightweight software (such as Xfce or LXDE desktop environment).
 
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Old 07-19-2013, 11:00 PM   #5
k3lt01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yancek View Post
You will likely find that the 'best' is generally whatever the person recommending is using.
+1

The problem with asking "best" questions is that "best" is personal choice. The next problem is you get fanboys will automatically tell you the distro they use is the "best" thing since sliced bread.

What you want is something that will work with your hardware, will do what you want, be functional, and lastly be aesthetically pleasing to you.

So talking about hardware; it may have problems running Gnome Shell infact it may not run Gnome Shell at all but revert to fallback mode. Apart from that the only real thing I see holding it back is the size of the hard drive but with a 10 GB /, a 2 GB swap, you still have 20 somethign GB for personal files etc.
 
Old 07-19-2013, 11:05 PM   #6
TroN-0074
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I think you should try Linux Mint, Mate edition or Xfce edition. These two versions are made to go easy in the hardware of your computer so pick one of them and download it.
Here is the link to their site http://www.linuxmint.com/

Make sure you get the one with the codecs already include, if you however download the version without codecs make sure you learn how to install them. Without codecs you wont be able to play videos encoded in propietory formats, nor MP3s nor youtube videos and stuff.

I will discorage you to download and isntall Ubuntu. I mean Ubuntu is a good distro but requires lots of resources in your computer so if you have a farenew computer with i3 processor and good video card and about 3 or 4 GB of ram then I would say go with Ubuntu but no for now.

Unless you want to try Xubuntu or Lubuntu these two you should check them out.
http://xubuntu.org/
http://lubuntu.net/

If you decided to install either of them make sure you install 3rd party software during installation time. That will take care of the codecs and flashplayer

For your shared folders in your file server any file browser will be able to browse files on your network, these are either built in or plugins for your file manager in your desktop environment not problem.

Anyway install whichever you want and if you have questions later on you should stop by again and let us know
Good luck to you
 
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:13 PM   #7
stevefoobar
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OK, thanks guys. I'm about to give Linux Mint with Xfce desktop a shot because it appears to have a very small footprint. I have no idea if it comes bundled with Wine or not but I guess I'll find out soon enough. I hope it supports Wine since I need to run a MS Windows Access app (not MS Access itself but an exe app designed with MS Access). I think I may also try LibreOffice and see if I can avoid Office 2007 entirely. Hopefully I'll get lucky with the hardware and network folder sharing access.
 
Old 07-20-2013, 07:46 PM   #8
joe_2000
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It does not have wine out of the box I think, but you can easily install it from the repositories.
 
Old 07-20-2013, 07:48 PM   #9
joe_2000
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By the way when picking your Mint iso I'd recommend to go for the LTS version, which stands for long term support. It will get software (especially security) updates for a much longer time than the latest stable.

Last edited by joe_2000; 07-20-2013 at 07:49 PM. Reason: spelling
 
Old 07-20-2013, 10:23 PM   #10
msxenix
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Linux Mint with XFCE would be best.

If you want to run Microsoft Office, install playonlinux. It handles all the pain in the ass wine configuration, and even installs the right wine system for the application. It's basically a wrapper that creates seperate wine containers per program. It's really good.
 
Old 07-20-2013, 10:28 PM   #11
stevefoobar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_2000 View Post
By the way when picking your Mint iso I'd recommend to go for the LTS version, which stands for long term support. It will get software (especially security) updates for a much longer time than the latest stable.
Actually this gives me an opportunity to ask more questions and I suppose make some statements. One of the "problems" with Linux when I first tried it many. many years ago was there were too many versions available and it was too "techie" for the average end user and even some not so average end-users. I now see this problem has compounded by an approximate factor of 10! How does one have any idea not only what distribution of all the choices, but even subtle variations within each major distribution? For example, just in Linux Mint alone there is Mint 15, Mint Debian, Mint with KDE, Mint with Xfce, Mint with Cinnomon, Mint with MATE, etc. Then to make matters even more confusing, there are apparently versions like this gentleman is referring to (LTS) and "semi-rolling distribution" which I have no idea what the meaning of is.

It's really unfortunate that the Linux developers and proponents haven't resolved this issue which I've always believed is one of the major factors that Linux still has only 10% of the desktop market.

Are there any general conventions and rules that one can learn and follow that apply to all distros so I know what the heck I'm looking at on all these sites?

Thanks.
 
Old 07-20-2013, 10:33 PM   #12
stevefoobar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msxenix View Post
Linux Mint with XFCE would be best.

If you want to run Microsoft Office, install playonlinux. It handles all the pain in the ass wine configuration, and even installs the right wine system for the application. It's basically a wrapper that creates seperate wine containers per program. It's really good.
Thanks!
 
Old 07-20-2013, 11:21 PM   #13
snowpine
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The official Linux Mint site has descriptions and screenshots of each "flavor" to help you choose:

http://www.linuxmint.com/

Think of it like pizza with different toppings. It is all Mint, but with subtle variations to fit different personalities and use cases. Choice is a feature, not a bug. These different flavors exist because there is a demand for them.

Last edited by snowpine; 07-20-2013 at 11:27 PM.
 
Old 07-20-2013, 11:51 PM   #14
TroN-0074
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Actually lots of users like the fact that Linux let you choose between many choices so you pick the one that suit you best. There is nothing wrong in trying as many distros as you want and pick one that run best in your computer. They are free after all other than the cost of your blank CD or Flash drive.
Keep in mind though a small donation toward the developer is always appreciated

Anyway just think about it, if we were limited to only one choice, lots of pentium 4, core two duo, PowerPCs and lots of other computer that are still perfectly fine to run a linux flavor would be at this time in a trash can for no reason. So it is up to us to educate ourself to solve the needs that we have.

Back to your previous comments the suggestion on post #9 is for you to download LinuxMint version 14 which is base on a LTS release (By LTS what is means is Long Term Supported). Which will be supported for I think is four years opposed to the regular release (Version 15) that will be supported I think only for 6 months. So pick your poison man, and embrase the fact that in Open Source will always be vast sea of options.

Good luck to you. If you have more questions dont hesitate in asking

Last edited by TroN-0074; 07-20-2013 at 11:53 PM.
 
Old 07-21-2013, 12:33 AM   #15
stevefoobar
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Thanks guys. I had a moment of frustration and exasperation.

So then help me understand why I care if a version is supported for 6 months, 4 years, or is one of these so-called "rolling" versions.

I presume it has something to do with the hassle of making updates, right?

Of course, I'm used to Windows which does automatic updates even without you paying attention. I run all my computers 24 x 7 and even automate backups daily in the early morning hours.

Thanks!
 
  


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