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I have a bunch of old computers ... mainly early dual core machines from 2006 and 2007 (like AMD 64x2 4200+, 3800+, Intel 5200 Dual Core, etc).
My question is: am I taking a chance if I install a rolling release distro like PCLinuxOS on them?
My concern is that I'd be continually updating the OS on older computers for which the developers may not have tested their new stuff on. Versus, if I go with standard-release distros, I can always roll back a release upgrade if it goes bad.
What do you think? Is a rolling release distro riskier for older equipment.
Rolling Release Distro for any computer can lead to update breakage. Why not a stable Long term system there is a lot less admin work. As for older equipment running generic drivers I really do not see a problem. problem I have is why roll out a release when it just a cycle. And we all know what it is like when a bad cycle happens.
Roll the dice.
I use older computers: this desktop I built in 2005 and my laptop dates from 2002, and I seldom get problems with hardware when testing new distros: e.g. in the last couple of years I've only had video problems with Manjaro, Peppermint, OpenSUSE, ROSA, and Ubuntu.
The crucial thing is memory. If you want a rolling release, with 256MB you could run Arch – best installed with ArchBang or Bridge — and with 512, Semplice (based on Debian Unstable).
Arch will run fine on older machines than you have. I would not call those machines meager. I have Arch running with fluxbox on a P4 2.0Ghz machine with 512MB RAM. It doesn't swap, not with firefox and libre running. It needs to be at least a i686 for Arch, that would be a PII.
Read the Arch news before you blindly update. That will keep most problems from happening. Arch has a very good wiki, a forum with a knowledgeable userbase, one of the best package managers IMHO, a user build system (ABS), and a Arch User Repository (AUR). You will have to administer an Arch machine yourself.
My concern is that I'd be continually updating the OS on older computers for which the developers may not have tested their new stuff on
There are two types of packages, 64 bit and 32 bit.
Some of the problems you are most likely to see on a rolling release is, kernel-nvidia-mesa type problems. Browse through the Arch forums. You will have to keep an Arch machine fairly up to date.
Ah yes, I'd forgotten AntiX. It set's itself up to use Debian Stable, but you can easily switch to Testing or Unstable by just altering the repository.
Personally, if you have 1GB, then I'd say your original idea of PCLinuxOS is best. The Mate version will run in 512 and is a good implementation. Arch and Debian Tsting/Unstable are, to my mind, hobbyist distros, but PCLinuxOS is intended for the average home user and so tries to be rolling-release without being bleeding-edge.
Thanks, everyone for your responses and advice. I probably should have mentioned that even though my machines are older, all have plenty of memory (either 1 or 2 G each), so memory is not an issue. I'm mainly concerned about stability and not getting messed up by a release upgrade. It sounds like with these goals avoiding a rolling release is probably appropriate. Thanks.
I run Fedora Rawhide as the primary distro on my AMD 64x2 5400+. Not really a rolling release, but it doesn't break too often. I have to admit, I do keep an older, known-to-work distro on that machine just in case...