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Old 02-02-2012, 04:35 PM   #1
topaz-2012
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Need help choosing: distro to use with gnome (former Mac user) on old cheap thinkpad


I've used mac since 1997 at least. Have used windows now and then, but really am not comfortable with it. Being that I am not working due to health, every penny counts. My old mac computers are failing and the money I could spend on a mac replacement still wouldn't run modern software. So, I'm going to make the jump to Linux. I need your help though, as the more I learn the more baffled I become.

Okay - first of all - I will be using a laptop for mostly writing. Occasionally I will use it for light graphic design - but only my own stuff - no longer working for clients due to health. My ancient Adobe CS suite will have to retire since it is for mac, but I hope open source stuff might meet my modest needs for alternatives to photoshop, illustrator and indesign for very limited work. Need internet capability. A USB port would be quite helpful. Ability to still "talk" to my old HP 6MP laser printer would be fantastic (I have a usb converter cable on it now).

I read that Thinkpads have wonderful keyboards for those who type a lot. I read that they're built solidly and can be worked on fairly easily - so I've decided that might be the smart thing to buy. BUT - I need to buy something for less than $100 - so it won't be a new model. I'm getting baffled reading specs on old models - as I'm not familiar with PC processors. Some seem to have usb ports while others don't. I just don't know which machine will fit the bill. I read that to use Gnome one should have at least a 1ghz processor and 768 mb of ram - but which processor would be required?

Coming from a mac background, when I saw what Gnome looks like I said, "that's the one for me." Then I read that it is just an interface, but I need a Linux distro underneath it. :-\ Baffling to me, but I think I understand. Then I read some people saying that MintLinux is great with Gnome - but it runs super hot on laptops.(EDIT: Being that I have an old Pismo g3 powerbook that runs so hot you could cook eggs on it, I am sensitive to the idea of NOT getting another laptop to cook with.) I looked at Puppy Linux which is touted for laptops, but it isn't mac enough for me. Which distro will run Gnome well on an old laptop?

The above basically boils down to the following questions:

Which thinkpad or other laptop should I be shopping eBay for? (Under $100 if possible please. The cheaper the better. I can buy additional ram and other stuff later as I save up a bit more money.)
Which distro will run on an old laptop without overheating and can handle Gnome?
Can any Linux laptop hook up to a mobile broadband g3 or g4 service? None of the providers mention Linux in their sales material. I have a travel situation coming up this year, and will need a mobile connection during that time. Right now I use DSL.

Lastly - I read in Puppy Linux that one can not save folder names with spaces. Is this true of all Linux distros?

Phew! Lots of info. Hope I provided all the necessary details so that you can guide me on my quest.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by topaz-2012; 02-02-2012 at 04:42 PM.
 
Old 02-02-2012, 04:55 PM   #2
TroN-0074
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In the past I used Ubuntu 10.04 that version comes with Gnome installed but you will need to install a graphical interface called Macbuntu, It does looks like OS X
I used it on a ThinkPad T41 (If you find a newer one will be better DualCore perhaps).

So I would suggest you to try that.

you can save folders with spaces on their names but it will be tricky to get to them from the command line but from the GUI you can have full access to your files.

Good luck to you.
 
Old 02-02-2012, 05:11 PM   #3
snowpine
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All Linux distros list their minimum hardware requirments, and many publish a list of certified hardware. For example if you are interested in Ubuntu (or Ubuntu-based distros like Mint):

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/In...emRequirements
http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/

ps Use "\ " (without the quotes) for folder/file names with spaces.

For example if the folder is called "My Folder":

Code:
cd My\ Folder
 
Old 02-03-2012, 12:23 AM   #4
topaz-2012
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Thank you, snowpine and TroN-0074. I appreciate your help.

That hardware certification list is really interesting. I wish they also listed the very old laptops too.

Could you help me understand the requirements they show on that linked page? They name desktops, servers, netbooks, etc. But they never list laptops/notebooks. Can I use the desktop specs for the laptop? Will there be issues with overheating as I've read other users mention in a few posts?
 
Old 02-03-2012, 07:17 AM   #5
TroN-0074
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Go to www.ubuntu.com and download Ubuntu 10.04 LTS that for sure will work on a 6 years old think pad. I know because I have used it in a T41. The download is free and they have instructions there how to burn it on a CD.

Good luck to you.

Last edited by TroN-0074; 02-03-2012 at 01:11 PM.
 
Old 02-03-2012, 12:21 PM   #6
topaz-2012
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Thank you TroN-0074
 
Old 02-03-2012, 12:38 PM   #7
snowpine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topaz-2012 View Post
Could you help me understand the requirements they show on that linked page? They name desktops, servers, netbooks, etc. But they never list laptops/notebooks. Can I use the desktop specs for the laptop? Will there be issues with overheating as I've read other users mention in a few posts?
I recommend the minimum "desktop" specs (1ghz processor, 1gb ram, 15gb hard drive) for a laptop, too.

Overheating is a problem on some laptops, according to testimonials I have read at ubuntuforums.org. But there are lots of powersaving tweaks/tools you can implement. (I like a utility called Jupiter, personally.)
 
Old 02-03-2012, 01:00 PM   #8
DavidMcCann
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As far as memory requirements are concerned,
1GB runs anything: consider Suse or any of the following
512MB: Mepis, Mint are good
256MB: Saline, Vector, Lubuntu, Salix
128MB: Vector Light, antiX

I have a Thinkpad X31: IBM (not Lenovo) and made in Japan (not China) from 2003. The previous owner added extra memory, but underclocked it to save the battery, so its Pentium M chugs along at 600MHz. Mint is too slow on it, but Salix runs fine.

You can find out more about Linux on Thinkpads at
http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/ThinkWiki
 
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Old 02-04-2012, 04:27 PM   #9
topaz-2012
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Thank you, Snowpine and David.

David - that info is especially good to read. I've decided to approach this differently. Instead of looking for something "mac like" - I've realized it would be best to just look for a version that seems relatively appealing that will run on the older systems - and I will get used to it and probably love it after some time. I remember hating moving from OS8.6 to OSX in Mac - but then got used to it. I'll do the same with whatever Linux flavor I choose.

And I've narrowed down my Thinkpad choices to the ones with Pentium M processors. I like how they run so efficiently. They'll be lightyears faster than anything I've owned previously and I'm happy with that.

One last question? Am I correct that it doesn't matter which distro I choose, that they all will be able to run any Linux software I happen to want to install? So if I choose, say PuppyLinux or Ubuntu or Lubunto or any other - they ALL can run the exact same software programs?

I am new at this - sorry for all the questions - I feel like I know nothing even though I've used computers for decades!
 
Old 02-04-2012, 04:34 PM   #10
topaz-2012
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PS: I just looked at screenshots of Salix - pretty spiffy looking.

http://linux.softpedia.com/progScree...hot-50932.html
 
Old 02-04-2012, 04:57 PM   #11
topaz-2012
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I'm back again - I'm more smitten with Salix now that I've looked at their site with all their own screenshots. I really like it with the Xfce.

Could I smoothly run the full installation of Salix with Xfce on a Pentium M T40 Thinkpad - with at least a 60gb HD, 1.2 or 1.5 GHZ processor, 2mb level 2 cache I think?

EDIT: 1gb or 1.5 gb of RAM

This will be mostly for writing, editing, net surfing.
Sporadically watching a few youtube videos.
Rarely for graphic design tasks.

Last edited by topaz-2012; 02-04-2012 at 05:03 PM.
 
Old 02-05-2012, 12:45 AM   #12
topaz-2012
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Another comment - I looked at more of the suggestions posted - and I find that Vector is another one that really appeals to me a lot. Nice to have choices that will work!
 
Old 02-05-2012, 12:54 AM   #13
Ion Silverbolt
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Good call with choosing Xfce. Right now, a lot of distros are focused on using Gnome 3 or Kde 4. Both of which are a lot more brutal on old hardware.

Xfce on the other hand uses a lot less resources. You can easily disable desktop compositing as well if you're having performance issues because of an old graphics card.

Xfce is also configurable enough to look just about any way you like. Mine kind of looks like Windows 2000. I have seen some that look very Mac-like as well though.
 
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:13 AM   #14
topaz-2012
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Thanks Ion! I'm happy to hear that. I feel like things are finally making sense to me about this whole quest. I'm going to mark this topic as solved.

Thank you all very much. I wouldn't have found these things if you hadn't helped.
 
Old 02-05-2012, 03:22 AM   #15
ukiuki
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Hi there welcome to LQ

Linux can be w/e your hardware can handle and your imagination can dream with. You can pick any distro and change it the way you like, GNU/LInux is modular. Personally i like Debian because i can do a minimal install just the base system and build from there. It is possible to chose any GUI and have more than one, the lighter the software you pick faster your machine will run, is is easier to do that way than strip down the default install that most dristros bring.
Build it your way, just respect that old hardware.

There are DE and WM , if you want experiment(you might end enjoying it) try some Window Managers they are very lightweight and fast. I recommend BlackBox cos its simplicity. The less you ask to your hardware to load the faster it will run.

About writing have a look at Vi or Vim text editor it is powerful thou it doesn't looks like it is.
Emacs/XEmacs is also one you can't miss.

Regards
 
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