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2. eMachines T5216 - Pentium D 805 / 2.66 GHz, RAM maxed to 2GB, 160GB HDD
Each machine is connected via VGA to an HDTV (32" and 42"). Current use is strictly for viewing online web content: CNET, online TV network, amazon streaming, Netflix (I'm aware there are issues), YouTube, etc. I use remote keyboard w/touchpad for input. Virtually no productivity except occasional checking web email. Both systems have internal DVD drives which it would be a plus if I could watch DVD's.
Pick whatever distro you want with that hardware. My best is 2GHz and 1GB ram. And most of my linux installs are on < 30GB partitions. You may want to add a beefy video card for more pep, but what you have will suffice for most purposes.
Ubuntu and Mint are common for new to linux types. With many live disks options these days. I boot linux off of a USB stick (although the excessively slow read/write speeds are annoying). And that's mostly for traveling to relatives and computer shopping. No need to take a computer with me when I can boot my linux installs on their hardware. Or swing by goodwill and pick up a computer for $50.
In Linux terms, those are pretty powerful: anything will run, although the Ubuntu disk may be difficult with the Dell. I'd go for whichever user interface you like:
Mint (regular releases) or Fuduntu (rolling release) with Mate / Cinnamon / Gnome
OpenSUSE (better for the Pentium D than the P4) or PCLinuxOS with KDE
For commercial DVDs there's a problem in the USA that legally only Microsoft and Apple are allowed to supply the codec to play them, and the public are only supposed to have it from those suppliers. That means that some Linux distros (all produced in the USA) lack libdvdcss, but it's always available from somewhere.
Distribution: Debian for server, CrunchBang for everything that's not a server
I would recommend taking a look at the CrunchBang Linux distributiojn. Although it is not specifically 'beginner-oriented' like Mint, they have the friendliest community behind them that I've seen in a long time.
CrunchBang is essentially Debian, but optimized for use with the Openbox window manager. Oh, and unlike Debian, it pretty much 'just works' out of the box. I'm running Waldorf (The CrunchBang version basd on Debian Wheezy) on my primary system - a laptop - and the only adjustment I needed to make out of the box was to install a particular proprietary driver to get my wireless working properly (see this thread).
My Dell Dimension 4700, also maxed to 4 GB RAM, quite happily runs Debian. I'm confident it would run any linux I threw at it. I use it as my file server and regular stream media files from it to other computers.
I truly appreciate everyone's suggestions, and please keep them coming. I've tried a few of the ones mentioned, and some have worked better to worse, some have not worked at all. Some of the suggestions mentioned I've not heard of, so I'll keep trying different ones and see which works best with each system, and to my liking.
Particularly, Precise Puppy has worked pretty well on the eMachines system, connected to the 42" HDTV. I've been unable to install it permanently to the internal HDD (rather than booting from the CD I made), but I'm sure it's just me not following the directions properly. Lubuntu worked pretty well on the eMachines as well. However, the images were stretched wide and I couldn't locate any drivers to fix that issue (and it just BUGS ME!). I tried to install xbmcbubtu, damn small Linux and a few others on the eMachines system, most of which I couldn't get to boot at all.
I've done less experimenting ont the Dell, currently I'm dual-booting 12.04 or 12.10 (can't remember which). It works pretty well, but the images are also stretched. I plan to wipe the drive eventually and install whatever I settle on to the drive without windows xp. However, I need to first create a system disk (and a back up image), as the Dell is one of those that doesn't come with a separate disk. I just haven't gotten around to it. I bought the Dell new in 2005. Once I do that I'll try all of the different versions I've downloaded on the Dell and see what works best.
Again, thank you everyone for your suggestions. It's overwhelming, the sheer number of options upon options.
Distribution: OpenSUSE 13.2 64bit-Gnome on ASUS U52F
Originally Posted by goumba
Why not give Mythbuntu a shot... it seems to be designed around this type of use.
I think you should give Mythbuntu a shot. I have never use it but it looks like I should try it sometime too.
I have OpenSuse in my laptop and I oftem connect that to my TV through HDMI connection, I recently installed xbmc thinking that it was going be a better choice for entertaining but it is not. so I am thinking on removing that and stick with plain vlc for video watching.
Good luck to you man. Please let us know how Mythbuntu works for you, so other people with similar questions can learn.