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Old 12-15-2004, 05:11 PM   #1
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Registered: Dec 2004
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PII 400MHz, 64MB RAM

Hey. I just bought a cheap, slow computer so that I could experiment with Linux or other operating systems on (and not worry about screwing up my main computer). My question, though, is: which distribution is best optimized for that kind of setup?

It's a Compaq Deskpro with a Pentium II 400MHz, 64MB RAM, 6.0GB HDD, etc. With the monitor, keyboard, and mouse, I paid $75 for it. It has Windows 2000 Pro on it (because it was a business' computer) and I'm definately going to get rid of that because it takes about 5-6 minutes just to boot up.

Oh, I was looking around a little bit, and I saw some people/forums that recommended just loading an old Windows OS (one that didn't have IE on it). They thought that that would be the most stable (they weren't referring specifically to my computer, but they were talking about a different slow computer). I think that they were suggesting NT.

Thanks guys.

Old 12-15-2004, 05:37 PM   #2
Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Scotland
Distribution: Anything that'll install...
Posts: 305

Rep: Reputation: 30
If you want maximum optimization, then Gentoo is your only choice. It's *NOT* recommended for newbies though. Really, any recent distro will do. If you've got a spare box purely for experimenting on, I suggest you do precisely that. Start with a distro which has a large and helpful user community - that would help. Go to and read a lot. Oh, and another 64megs of RAM would help a lot...
Old 12-15-2004, 05:42 PM   #3
Registered: Feb 2004
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Can
Distribution: Slackware, ubuntu
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Originally posted by mugstar
If you want maximum optimization, then Gentoo is your only choice.
Ok settle down fanboy...

If you are wanting to use linux just to expirement and learn it, not as a workstation, (ie setting up time and ease of installation is irrelevent) slackware would be a good choice, and it runs excellent on old and slow hardware.

The advantage of this over an old windows os is that you can run a cutting edge up to the date linux distro with all the newest security patches etc.., whereas if you chose to run a windows os you'll be using software that has been put out to pasture and hasn't been maintained in years.

Last edited by sh1ft; 12-15-2004 at 05:44 PM.
Old 12-15-2004, 05:51 PM   #4
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Registered: Dec 2003
Location: Paris
Distribution: Slackware forever.
Posts: 2,397

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Slackware have simple installation graphics, and you install fast. Then if you make mistakes , you waste less time rerunning the install. And simplicity reduce probability of bugs. If you go for it, I suggest you read the beginning of the Book:
And the install help:
in parallel of your "experiments" .
If you have questions, remember that this site got answers to most of them. Search & find.
Enjoy .
Old 12-15-2004, 06:13 PM   #5
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Registered: May 2004
Location: Australia
Distribution: Gentoo
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Any distro will run fine on a computer like that, it's all about what you have running that uses your resources. Just like windows except unlike windows, the base of linux doesn't use much resources at all. Instead of a fully blown desktop environment like KDE or GNOME, try a window manager like IceWM, fluxbox or something smaller. Fluxbox is really cool, never actually tried icewm but they'll keep your system running much faster than if you used KDE which runs a bunch of daemons that you'll probably live with out
Old 12-15-2004, 06:22 PM   #6
Registered: Nov 2004
Location: NYC
Distribution: Slackware 10.0
Posts: 33

Rep: Reputation: 15
Since your goal is Linux learning/experimentation, I'd suggest going with Slackware 10. Not too difficult, but you will learn and be able to customize everything.


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