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Old 06-24-2006, 01:54 AM   #1
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Registered: Jul 2005
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Linux distro for a n00b with a Pentium 3

Hello - I could not find any recent threads on this topic.

I am curreently using Windows XP and it is running REALLY slow, and I'd like to give Linux a whirl.

I tried Mepis one time, (installed on hard drive), but it ran quite slowly too...I suspect the KDE graphics is overpowering for my PC

Here are my specs:
900mhz processor
256mb RAM
integrated graphics (up to 1024x768), sound

I use my PC to browse the net, instant messaging and listening to music. Also, I need to connect to a Windows XP computer on the LAN to use this possible with many distros??

Thanks for your recommendations!!!!!
Old 06-24-2006, 05:09 AM   #2
Registered: May 2006
Distribution: Debian
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You have not said how big your Hard Drive is.

With 256RAM most distros will work. What you should do is look at several Live-CDs to see what you like. Live-CDs will boot entirely from the CD-Rom and leave the Hard Drive absolutely untouched. For a list of Live-CDs look at

What people use is largely a matter of personal taste. Many distros can be switched from KDE to Gnome or XFace etc.

I use Kubuntu which is the KDE version of Ubuntu. Having got one of the "*buntus" I can get the components and run the others.

If you feel that KDE is too heavy look at Xubuntu. This lighter version is Xface and does not have KDE or Gnome full graphics. I quite like Zenwalk which is Xface too, but based on Slackware.

The Ubuntu Forum is a very lively and helpful place.
Old 06-24-2006, 05:18 AM   #3
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Well, on this crappy Toshiba Satpro 4600 (PIII, 666 MHz, 256 Meg, 20 Gig drive) latest Ubuntu (6.06 {Dapper} with Gnome) lives quite happily with Win2k.
Wireless (old Cisco 350 11b) fired up first time - no input from me.

Old 06-24-2006, 07:46 AM   #4
Registered: Apr 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Distribution: Slackware, Debian
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Smile try ubuntu

try ubuntu, it comes on a CD gnome's nice for windows users new to linux, and ubuntu is easy to administor, and it doesn't usually eat up too much memory
Old 06-24-2006, 08:22 AM   #5
Registered: Jun 2006
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I can't really offer good advice as which distro you should pick since I'm pretty new to Linux myself, but I can tell you what I ended up doing and how it's worked out so far.

First off, my system is a PII 300Mhz, w/ 128MB DRAM, Matrox Mystique 220, Some Linksys NIC, and a Diamond Monster Sound PCI. As far as storage goes, I have 6.4 GB HD, and 2 other HDs around 1 GB (can't remember off hand). The 6.4 GB HD is my Primary master, the second largest drive is Primary slave, and the smallest capacity one is Secondary Master. I have my swap partition on this secondary master drive.

The distro I went with was Debian 3.1 Sarge. I installed it through the internet since I'm so poor. I had installed an older Debian distro on this system ages ago that I long since wiped out along with Win98 (I had decided that after the computer had sat in the closet for so long I'd rather just wipe the whole thing and start from scratch so keep in mind that when I install Sarge it was from a completely blank system with the exception of Window NT 4.0 that I initially installed just to be able to get internet access up quickly to be able to get what was needed to get a Debian installation going. This is a moot point in your case since it sounds like you already have an O/S installed).

How difficult it is to install Debian 3.1 is really a matter of how one's general PC hardware knowledge is. I suspect this probably true of most distros though. It would be a good idea to have a good understanding of things like hard drive partitions (but, there is of course ways to make things simpler depending upon how intricate you want to get about how you plan to set up your filesystem).

Personally, I thought the installation of Debian 3.1 was pretty intuitive for the most part. There are some parts in it that things are a bit ambiguous if it's your first time installing. It's probably a good idea to read through the Debian Installation Howto or at least print it out for handy reference. I skimmed it before hand looking for particular information.

If you're poor like me, the nice thing about Debian is you can install through their online repository for free. To do so involved making 2 boot disks (their standard boot image and root image disks). Then from there it went directly into the installer. If connecting to your ISP utilizes DHCP then it really makes things easy. All you pretty much have to do in this case is just boot off boot image floppy then insert the root floppy when it prompts. From there is takes you a text based GUI that you pretty much just have to answer questions. At some point it goes through setting up your network. Then from there, there are more question about how to set up hardware and what packages you want to install etc.

As to how it's been working out so far:
I'm loving it. I've had a few headaches trying to get some things working properly post-installation, but I'm sure that's probably how it goes in most cases. The initial installation went real smooth and I was up and running with X without a hitch. From there I've been reading tons and tons over the web and figuring out how to fix the minor issues.

My system spec are alot worse than yours and I find the performance to be acceptable IMHO. I do notice that KDE and gnome is pretty resource hungry and can sometimes be a bit sluggish, but sounds like they're known for being pretty demanding. The nice thing is that you can always change all of that if you want once you get up and running.

If you're one of the fortunate people that money isn't an issue then you may want to explore different distros . If you're tight on money then Debian is a great way to go especially if you want to just see what Linux is like first before making an investment. Though, even then, most distros seem to be very nicely priced from what I've seen.
Old 06-24-2006, 10:22 AM   #6
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Distribution: freebsd 6.1, suse 10.1, Centos 4.3, PCLOS Super Gamer
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i have pIII 800mhz, 256mb of ram and a 20gb hard drive. All distros i tried ran at decent speed, not blistering but ok. My fav current linux distro is suse 10.1.Very easy to install, use and configure -understating the ease. The installations sluggish but then again it is graphical and on a low spec pc. Suse 10.1, to be honest is not the fastest but not too slow. At first it is slow. However, once you stop some of the system services it does tend to speed. Secondly, you want LAN, i think i recall setting that up with redhat 7. And btw redhat 7 is an old distro now. The current free red hat is red hat 9 which was released somewhere around 03,so even thats old. I haven't used lan recently (I didn't really use lan much with redhat 7) but i assume most distros will have support it now. I know fedora core supports lan, have not tried it myself. However, it is supposed to be n00b friendly and an all round good distro.

BTW, have you considered overclocking your processor? It wont become lightnening fast but it might make a bit of difference.
Old 06-24-2006, 03:37 PM   #7
Registered: Oct 2004
Location: detroit
Distribution: Mint, Mepis, Sabayon, PCLOS, Sidux, UltimateEdition, Suse
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I'm running xubuntu on a P-2 with a 266 processor and 128 mb memory and it works fine. Hooked to router via a switch with no problems. Install the system from the 'alternate' cd.

Also have Puppy and DSL running on two other older machines with success.

Don't give up to easily.

Best regards,

Old 06-25-2006, 10:18 AM   #8
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Registered: Jun 2006
Location: Berkeley
Distribution: Puppy Linux
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Thumbs up I've found Puppy Linux to be great w/ similar hardware

I suggest checking out Puppy Linux. I recently decided to give linux another shot. First time, and only other, was around 96-7 when I tried redhat off CD. Some 2-3 days later my old box from college was a linux box, but with no apps and no support for my modem so no way to acquire any. It was interesting and educational but ultimately futile. About a month ago I realized that it must have gotten much much easier to do it right by now, so I started looking for distributions to try. I quickly found puppy, simply because my wolfhound was getting very sick of how long it was taking to find one, so when I saw the name I clicked. So glad I did! So far it has been perfect for me, as a beginner.

It installed extremely easily and quickly in a very non-invasive manner in the same partition as windows, working great with my eMachines 1000b: pentium III 1000MHz, 256 ram, integrated graphics card up to 1024x768, integrated sound card as well. Sounds a lot like your system.

Some of the benefits:
fast, super easy to set up or try, small (fits on USB pen drive if you like) great community - you can almost always get help right away on the freenode #puppylinux irc channel or within hours on the main forum: [I can't post urls since I'm new to the forum] www dot, with a wiki and others as well. It includes a good bunch of apps to do common computer work like internet, multimedia, office work, etc and is very easy to add to. Not a huge community yet, but growing and surprisingly friendly, even for linux, cause people seem to fall in love.

To read step by step instructions for this hardware, which is similar to what you have, go to www dot

As for networking with XP, I have not tried it, but I have seen the package to do so on the optional package list. Look for Samba, if I recall. The packages are basically click-to-install.

I hope this helps.
Best of luck!
Fitzhugh - a bit biased from my very positive experiences with Puppy

Last edited by fitzhugh; 06-25-2006 at 10:49 AM.
Old 06-25-2006, 10:39 AM   #9
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Distribution: Fedora 25 86_64
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I run Fedora Core 5 on a socket 370 and all works great
Old 06-27-2006, 04:53 AM   #10
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Registered: Jul 2005
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thanks for all your suggestions, sounds like ubuntu and some its variations are worth a shot.

Just a quick unrelated question - I know there are bittorrent clients galore for linux, but is there a linux equivalent of Limewire???


edit: yeah, i can't overclock my CPU cos my motherboard doesnt allow it and it's not really worth it buying another one, when I could get a whole new PC for not much more

Last edited by icic; 06-27-2006 at 04:55 AM.
Old 06-27-2006, 05:41 AM   #11
Registered: Oct 2005
Location: Pakistan
Distribution: Debian,Pclinuxos
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I HONESTLY SUGGEST PCLINUX its live installer cd (u can use it without installing it and if u love it u can install it with the same cd ) ... THE BEST PART IS that its loaded with a helll lot of programmes can play cds, dvds audio, scan , print , office tools , i love it and prefer it over
Old 06-27-2006, 05:54 AM   #12
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Limewire has a Linux version....

There's an RPM or source

Last edited by ethics; 06-27-2006 at 05:56 AM.


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