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Distribution: Debian Wheezy, Jessie, Sid/Experimental, playing with LFS.
Originally Posted by ajanyahya
it maybe defrag
It will be interesting to see how you suggest he defrags his Linux system. If he is using a journalling file system like ext4 which is the default on most distros it is extremely unlikely that defraging is required.
You say it has started being slow since an update, did that update include ureadahead by any chance? or anything to cause ureadahead to reprofile the start up sequence? When I was using Ubuntu and an update did this 99% of the time this was the cause and it crippled my low powered laptop. After about an hour of running reboot your machine and see how it goes.
A reboot can't hurt, especially if the system is doing a lot of swapping. Swapping can slow down responsiveness.
1GB RAM is not much for Ubuntu with the standard Ubuntu desktop, which is extremely resource hungry. For testing purposes, you could install a light-weight window manager (I'd suggest Fluxbox, as opposed to a desktop environment like XFCE or LMDE) and see whether you notice an improvement; it's in the repos.
You might also get something like GKrellM or Conky to be able to easily keep an eye on swap.
I have a computer with similar specs running Slackware Current; it's noticeably slower (but not unbearable) with KDE. It runs fine with Fluxbox or E17, but I notice that, even then, big apps, such as the GIMP and LibreOffice, take longer to start up than on my brawnier boxes.
(Note that Fluxbox is extremely plain out of the box, though it could be configured up to be quite pleasing, but I think it's a good tool for this test. Full disclosure: I'm a Fluxbox fanboy.)
I have pretty much an identical system. It has Ubuntu 12.04 with the XFCE and LXDE desktops. They both work well with 1GB, I wouldn't call them "slow" by any means.
I second that. In fact, I would strongly recommend doing a clean install of Lubuntu: http://lubuntu.net/
Doing a clean install would be the fastest and the easiest way to set up a fast and light system on a slow computer.
I currently have Lubuntu 12.10 running on an Acer 3680 laptop with a 1.6GHz Celeron and 1.5 GB memory and it runs quite well.
If you plan on using that system for a while longer, it would be beneficial to add another gig of memory, assuming that the system's BIOS can use it.