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so i got an old laptop from a friend and thought linux would run a bit better on it than windows. its a toshiba 1800 with 800mhz cpu and 240megs of ram. i have no idea what version or type of linux would work best on this hardware, but i would like something that is similar to mac os x or windows. thanks
Quite frankly, you're right- Linux will work better than Windows on most any computer, and has far better support for older models. Personally, I'm using Kubuntu 6.06 on a PIII/733 MHz CPU with no problems at all.
Keep in mind, though, that Linux is not Mac or Windows. While you can mimic the appearance with any distro, Linux is better. But to be better, it has to be different.
Xubuntu might be good; it's desktop environment is good (as in outlooks and ease of use), but it's faster than Gnome or KDE desktops, while still more like OS X or Windows desktop compared to Fluxbox and some other lightweight window managers. The base system is the same as in Ubuntu and Kubuntu, the only "big" difference being the desktop (and perhaps package selection - which text editor, media player etc.)
Slackware + XFCE would do good too, but I assume you're more into Xubuntu-style operating system than Slackware, for now at least.
Wow thanks for the quick response. I'm downloading ubuntu and zenwalk now to try them out. but i think this laptop may have more problems, it has a dvd rom / cd rw drive, and it wont boot off of a cd rw
I've never heard of a DVD-CDRW drive that wouldn't boot off a CD-RW disc, but have you tried out a regular CD-R? If it makes any difference..also make sure that the disc you use to boot is really all right (either a bought installer disc, or if you burnt it yourself verify it's contents are what they should be), and that you either use the Boot Menu available in some BIOSes or then set the boot order from BIOS to be the optical drive before harddisk.
I like Damn Small Linux for older computers. Go to http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/ to check it out. It makes old PC's run fast and it can do most anything other operating systems can do. It is not like Windozes and I am glad it isn't. If you want a Windows like system try Ubuntu It won't run as fast as DSL but is a lot like Windozes.
I disagree with some of the replies suggesting that you use a "lightweight" distribution. With 240megs of RAM, you've got plenty to run a "heavyweight" distribution with all of the bells and whistles. I suggest you start off with "everything" and only try a lightweight distribution if a heavyweight is too slow.
Thus, instead of Xubuntu I'd suggest plain old Ubuntu. I have an out-of-box Ubuntu install on a 400mhz laptop on only 128megs of RAM. Honestly, with only 128megs of RAM it's not good for trying to simultaneously use Firefox and Open Office, but with 240megs of RAM and a much faster processor, your laptop will perform just fine.
If you want to try something more lightweight and faster, you can always install XFCE or icewm or fluxbox on the Ubuntu install. With linux, you aren't restricted to just one desktop environment. You can install as many different desktop environments as you want, and choose which one to use when you log in (you can log out and log in with a different desktop environment without turning off the computer).
That way, you can try out a lightweight desktop. But if you miss some features or don't feel like figuring out how to do something with the lightweight desktop, you can just log out/log in with the full GNOME desktop environment whenever you want/need.
BTW, I'm not a big GNOME fan. I personally prefer KDE, the other heavyweight desktop environment. GNOME is functional, but I think KDE is more "fun".