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Old 08-22-2014, 04:03 AM   #1
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Linux on Dell CPx

I have an old Dell laptop CPx machine that is running a Mobile Pentium III running at 650 Hz (screamer, I know).

Currently installed on the computer is DSL version 4.2.1
I would like to change this to Fedora 20 or Unbuntu.

Should I do this or just leave it as it?
Can it be done easily?
If this machine can not handle either of those, what should I look for in a used laptop?

Be gentle, this is my first time even looking at Linux, so everything is brand new to me.
Old 08-22-2014, 04:07 AM   #2
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I think hte big question here is RAM. How much do you have? You should then check that against the minimum recommended for whatever distribution you wish to try. You'll likely be able to run both Fedora and Ubuntu but probably not with their default desktops (Gnome3 and Unity respectively).


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Old 08-22-2014, 04:42 AM   #3
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The Maximum that this particular computer is 512MB, currently using 128MB. Guess this is going to be a challenge....

Last edited by EskaAmin; 08-22-2014 at 04:43 AM.
Old 08-22-2014, 04:54 PM   #4
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Yep, you need to get way more ram for some of the modern lightweight distro's or managers. Otherwise you'll have to continue with specialty distro's. Slitaz, dsl, puppy, tinycore, antix and a number of others may be your only choice.

Starting off with a swap partition may help.
Old 08-22-2014, 05:44 PM   #5
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I used to have that exact computer, except with 256mb ram. It ran Slitaz, CrunchBang, and AntiX no problem.

The biggest bottleneck on old hardware for the average user is web surfing. Going to a multimedia-rich website is going to bring old hardware to a crawl (no matter which operating system). I've found that using browser plugins like adblock, noscript, and flashblock can greatly boost the perceived speed of older hardware.

I recyled my Dell CPx 3 or 4 years ago because I found a much better computer in the trash. My smartphone has better hardware specs and was free with 2 year activation.

Here is a post I made a long time ago on UbuntuForums, and my advice "choose an appropriate distro" is even more relevant today, because Fedora and Ubuntu have become more bloated over the past several years:

November 19th, 2008
Re: Old DELL P3 Latitude CPx

Hi Dristan,
My first Linux computer was a Dell Latitude Cpx, just like yours! So hopefully I can help you out.

The first thing you need to do is upgrade your ram. Very few Linux distros will run well with only 128mb. The Cpx maxes out at 512mb; that would be my recommendation.

Next, you need to choose an appropriate distro for older hardware. Ubuntu/Xubuntu will install with 512mb of ram, but is one of the slower options. The best performance I've found on my Cpx is SliTaz linux; very highly recommended! I've also had pretty good luck with Debian Etch and Sidux Xfce. The only Ubuntu-based distro I've tried that ran well on the Cpx is Crunchbang. It is slow to boot (about 2 1/2 minutes) but runs well once it gets going.

Rehabilitating old hardware is lots of fun, but there can be a lot of trial and error. Please ask me if you have any questions, maybe I can save you some time.


Last edited by snowpine; 08-22-2014 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 08-22-2014, 11:40 PM   #6
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I have a Dell CSx which is very similar. I was able to run linux on it. I think I installed Knoppix with LDXE, and it ran all right. The problem with that computer, and the reason I do not use it any more, is that it has very limited connectivity: only one USB port which is USB1.1 (too slow for mass storage), and no built-in ethernet or wireless. On the bright side, it has a dual PCMCIA (PC Card) socket, so perhaps I could plug in a network interface and a USB2.0 interface, ... but instead I chose to get an inexpensive used laptop with gigabit Ethernet, wireless, and lots of USB2.0 ports.


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