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I have an old laptop and want to install linux on it. It's a Toshiba Satellite A-15 S1292. I upgraded it several times. Currently, it has a Intel Celeron 2.4 GHz single-core, 1 GB RAM, 110 GB hard drive, Intel (GMA) 852GM 32 MB shared video.
A laptop of that spec should run pretty much any mainstream distro. You may however, want to run something with a lighter desktop environment like LXDE or XFCE. You can install these desktops on any mainstream linux.
If you're new to linux, you may want to download a Live CD version and just boot it up and see what works on your hardware out of the box. Most of the main distros have live CD's.
There are family groupings of linux distributions. Fedora is one, but there is Debian/Ubuntu/Mint, openSUSE, and PCLinuxOS, each somewhat different in how they configure linus. If you have trouble with Fedora, try a live-cd of some of the others. Fedora is known to require some hand work to install on some systems.
The Intel graphics chip on your laptop may require a little tweaking before you get it to perform to your satisfaction. Google should help you if you search with Intel(GMA) 852GM and a particular distribution.
Well, is Fedora the best distro for a beginner? A few of you guys suggested Ubuntu, any reason?
There is no "best distro for a beginner" any more than there is a "best car for learning how to drive." Ubuntu and Fedora are probably the two most popular.
I'd suggest burning some Live CDs and taking a few distros for a test drive. It really is not much different than test driving a car; your goal is to find one that is reliable, handles well, and feels comfortable for you.
The Fedora 14 Desktop Edition requires at least 512 MB memory (RAM), 1 GB recommended for best performance. Will there be performance issues when I install additional software?
Also, what info about the monitor do I need to have with me during the setup? It's a laptop screen and I don't want to fry!
Fedora release notes states:
Processor and memory requirements for x86 Architectures
The following CPU specifications are stated in terms of Intel processors. Other processors, such as those from AMD, Cyrix, and VIA that are compatible with and equivalent to the following Intel processors, may also be used with Fedora. Fedora 13 requires an Intel Pentium Pro or better processor, and is optimized for i686 and later processors.
Recommended for text-mode: 200 MHz Pentium Pro or better
Recommended for graphical: 400 MHz Pentium Pro or better
Minimum RAM for text-mode: 256 MiB
Minimum RAM for graphical: 384 MiB
Recommended RAM for graphical: 512 MiB
These suggestions some are giving you on your "old" hardware are a load
of nonsense. I have an "old" and I mean 11 year old H-P desktop Pentium 3, 550 MHz processor with 784 MB of RAM that has run every Fedora release from Fedora Core 1 to the recent Fedora 14 with Gnome desktops.
But as others have mentioned you can try out the Live releases whether Fedora or some other distro to see which suits your taste. If your laptop can boot from a usb device create a liveusb and save yourself from burning a disc.
I wouldn't say they're nonsense. It's no secret that Gnome is very bloated so to say that he's better of using XFCE is not that far fetched. Obviously bloat, speed, and performance are all relative terms and it's up to the user to decide what's in his comfort and priority level. Everybody's just giving him a heads up on their past experiences and trying to be helpful IMO.