Best Distro For Old Computers

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Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby TheLegit » 2019-08-06 02:12

Hello, I am currently a Windows user but I wanted to try out Linux. I have tried out some of the Linux OSes using Virtualbox on my newer computer. One of the problems that I am facing is that I have this old computer that currently has Windows 7 at the moment. The computer was good for awhile but then the performance started hindering. It has gotten so slow and crippled it cannot even open Google Chrome. Now it will not even boot into Windows 7 anymore. This lead me to start doing some research on the Internet about possible solutions to revive that old thing. Now of course obviously I knew that I had to upgrade the hardware on it. This laptop is a Dell Latitude D630 with the following specs:
2GB of RAM (DDR2)
Intel Core 2 Duo (2GHZ Dual Core Single Thread)
80GB Hard Drive
Possibly 64 Bit? I did some research and seems like it is at least 64 bit Capable
The upgrades are that I would like to upgrade to at least an SSD and 4 GB of RAM, and possibly the processor to a quad core but I don't know if I can do that. Now I have read the Dell Forums and according to that I would be able to upgrade it to 8 GB of RAM if the BIOS was upgraded. I also wanted to Dual Boot Windows 10 and Linux for compartmentalization and compatibility purposes. My question for that is, if the BIOS can be upgraded how do you do that?
So my question is, alongside Windows 10, what would be the best recommended Linux OS for this use case scenario? The reason why I am asking this is because I am kind of still new to Linux even though I have played around with it a little bit on VirtualBox already. There are a lot of choices of distros and it can be overwhelming for someone like me. I am looking for something stable but still with relatively new software so I have been looking around the Debian and Ubuntu LTS based Distributions. I am not really sure what the differences are between the two and I have been really struggling which one to go with. I have been leaning towards MX Linux and Linux Mint but also I have been looking at some Linux OSes like Peppermint, Ubuntu LTS, Trisquel (FSF Approved Ubuntu-Based Distro), Debian Buster, and Pop_! OS. Do you have any suggestions? Would something like MX Linux and/or Linux Mint run just fine on it and be good for a new user like me?
I apologize for the long post.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby vbrummond » 2019-08-06 02:47

Debian is good for old computers.

1) use 32 bit, it uses less memory.
2) simple file systems like ext4
3) look into compressed memory
4) use a light work space or window manager like Xfce/lxde
5) don’t install services you don’t need
6) 2gb of ram will be horrible on the modern web. You might have to make some tradeoffs
7) have minimal expectations :)
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Soul Singin' » 2019-08-06 03:05

vbrummond wrote:6) 2gb of ram will be horrible on the modern web. You might have to make some tradeoffs

Turn off JavaScript and the modern web is great! . :lol: . :cry:

Try the Javascript Toggle On and Off add-on for Firefox. I often use it on my machine with 8 GB of RAM. It makes the modern web run a lot faster. . :mrgreen:
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby peer » 2019-08-06 06:48

lots of possibilities:
- MX is a very good option to try first.
- Antix is also a good option. Try this if MX does not work properly/
- Debian LXDE, Debian XFCE or Debian Mate are also good for older pc's/laptops.
- and there are others of course.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2019-08-06 07:55

vbrummond wrote:use 32 bit, it uses less memory

I would disagree with this because the memory saving is minimal once the browser is running and 32-bit operating systems run slower than 64-bit and cannot take advantage of the NX bit, making them less secure.

Soul Singin' wrote:Turn off JavaScript and the modern web is great!

Code: Select all
# apt install webext-noscript

@OP: Debian buster running a lighter desktop such as XFCE is great for older computers but MX Linux might be a bit easier to manage if you're new to GNU/Linux. And if you do use XFCE then either switch from LightDM to GDM for the login screen or use a console login with automatic startx instead to run X under the normal user:

Free (as in speech) distributions like Trisquel are great but they won't support your wireless card and if proprietary software is a problem for you then use vrms to cleanse your system.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Dai_trying » 2019-08-06 09:08

My go to distro for low powered machines is Q4OS it is debian based with the Trinity Desktop, it can run on almost anything, I have it on laptops, desktops and a couple of Pi's (Pi 1 clone and a model 3B), and it is available for pine64 and arm devices. The devs are very active and updates/fixes are frequent, it also has a Plasma version and user can install most other desktops via it's desktop profiler.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Bulkley » 2019-08-07 01:05

With identical posts over here and here some of us might wonder what you are up to.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby NFT5 » 2019-08-07 04:43

+1 for MX.

Mint will run fine, but slower, as will Ubuntu. Mint forums for support are very good.
Debian will run the fastest but is much more difficult to set up and maintain.

MX will run almost as well as Debian and is newbie friendly, as are their forums.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Deb-fan » 2019-08-27 08:50

<Frothing @ mouth fanboi>

Which distro!? Which distro you say!?! Debian dammit, Debian!!!

</Frothing @ mouth fanboi>

Well honestly do believe the above. After someone gets the required know how and experience under their belt the awesomeness that is Debian can be made to meet pretty much any need. Though at this point know you're asking for plug n play. Haven't tried MX but it's getting a lot of good press and I like/respect Stevep, some others would be Bunsenlabs gnu/Linux and another would be AntiX. Haven't messed with it in a long time so popped over to the website to have a look. One thing which stood out was them saying systemd free. Would advocate going with something that uses systemd as init. Just cause it's the obvious way of the future for gnu/nix.

Also not trying to stir up debate, nor take anything away from nixers opting to stay with sysv etc. Only my thoughts on the matter. Also agree with whomever said go with 32bit and a helpful tweak, especially for low memory hardware, lower whatever gnu/nix os"s you go with swappiness to 10. Google vm.swappiness=10. You'll have a much smoother ride and would also start looking for a replacement, secondary hard drive for that 80gb deal, it's got to be older than dirt and likely to give out sooner rather than later.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Bloom » 2019-08-27 09:10

I have a Pentium IV from 1999 with 768 MiB RAM.
It runs... Debian! With a very limited XFCE desktop system. When that starts, it consumes 80 MiB RAM.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Deb-fan » 2019-08-27 09:30

Amen Bloom! :)

Looks like I somehow missed a good chunk of the OP. @Buckly, yep thought this looked familiar could swear I'd answered this exact thing in another forum! OP asking the same question hoping for better/more advice?

Try the cmd lscpu it'll tell you what opmode(s) the cpu supports 32/64bit. Forget all those radical upgrades, you'd be better off and it'd be cheaper just to buy a better speced used system on ebay. Just my opinion. Which you may be able to find the same system there for parts and scavenge some ram and hopefully a newer hdd-etc for cheap from it.

2 cents on Javascript, with Firefox = use the noscript extension, as someone already mentioned, derp! Other browsers should have similar but can't recommend anything. Finally install inxi and run "sudo inxi -m" it'll tell you how much memory your current mobo supports. Would forget about flashing bios. Blahblahblah. :)
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Fierelier » 2019-08-27 15:18

I'd like to argue that you will do absolutely fine with that 2GB of RAM, if you use Debian with an optimized desktop environment.

I personally use a laptop rocking only 1GB of RAM running Debian 64bit with Xfce, and I use Firefox, without disabling javascript. Though I have disabled e10s by setting browser.tabs.remote.autostart to false in about:config (soon to be deprecated, but oh well), I also use ublock origin to block ads. I often find myself with a few hundred megabytes of ram left-over, as long as I don't open too many tabs.

I recommend you use the User Agent Switcher and Manager addon in advanced mode to make stuff like Youtube and Gmail display their mobile version. They tend to be way less taxing, while still giving you most of the functionality. Though with 2GB of RAM, this might be unnecessary.

You'll do fine.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby stevepusser » 2019-08-27 18:56

I have to wonder if you ever reinstalled Windows 7, painful as it is. Windows is well known as being subject to slowdowns the more you use it, called "bitrot", and the Win gurus would recommend a reinstall or "reset to factory" every six months (ugh!) to prevent that. You could also restore from a backup from back when it was running well.
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby Bloom » 2019-08-28 04:27

I have known multiple cases for netbooks with "Windows 7 Starter editions" which were painfully slow, just about unusable. Most of these netbooks had a 64 bit processor, but just 1 GiB RAM. Some had 2 GiB, but not much.
Those netbooks could be revived by removing Win7Starter and installing Linux. Debian XFCE (a "building blocks system", where you pick and choose which packets to install) of course. Happy days!
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Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Postby pylkko » 2019-08-28 05:22

Yeah, it is one thing that this question has been asked in many places. However, another thing is, that it has also been asked here many many times before. how about search before you ask? And honestly, what kind of person expects to get any kind of definite or useful answer for a question like this?
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