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I got an old laptop with win7 64 bit installed on it. It is really slow, even after all uninstallation of bloatware and tweeks. So I am thinking, this old machine could be given new life with a lightweight minimalist linux distro running from a flash drive? I'm not going to replace the Win7 OS, nor am I doing duel booting, I will stick to playing with live distros.
So, slow laptop, 2GB of ram, running the distro from a flash drive, it will be used almost exclusively for checking email, printing, and casual web surfing. Am I better off trying Puppy or Linux Lite? Or any other light weight distro I don't know about that you think would be better than either?
Im sure if it can handle Win 7 64 bit, you can use most Linux distros that are out now. May just want to stick with a light desktop environment like xfce, lxde, mate. Turn off any desktop effects. Regular Puppy should should fine.
Running a live distro is a bad idea (very slow).
Puppy loads from optical disk or USB and runs in RAM. Very fast.
ZorinOS is a good cross over distro and you should dual boot.
Be sure to fully run a check disk on your hard drive before resizing the partitions.
Do a full hard drive test, SMART to be sure your drive is not damaged or fading.
You can install many lite distros in 10G of space and then mount your windows partition (documents music, etc.)
If you don't want to install, then a distro designed to run from RAM is the thing to get: obviously accessing RAM is much faster than accessing the fastest of USB ports. There's Knoppix, Puppy, and Slax. Puppy is the easiest, in my experience. It will create a file in your Windows filing system called pup_save, in which it saves any configuration you do to the software, and any extra software you install.