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Best free operating system that can be used on an old notebook?

Posted on 2010-08-21
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hi everyone,

  I'm trying to revive an old notebook that has Pentium III and 256 of ram. What os / linux os version should be most suitable in this case? TIA
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Question by:0nepiece
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athomsfere earned 250 total points
ID: 33492311
Damn Small Linux would be great, as well as Puppy Linux. Both are small, light distros meant for slower PCs or high performance.
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by:Jini Jose
ID: 33492332
here is the complete list of linux. you can choose from it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_distributions


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by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 33492364
I used to run Fedora 4* on a PIII 500 with 256MB RAM with no problem at all.
*Other distro's are available :)
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by:Bawer
ID: 33492408
I suggest run Ubuntu earlier versions, which is simply great...
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by:0nepiece
ID: 33492482
Which would be best to run Open Office latest version : http://www.openoffice.org/dev_docs/source/sys_reqs_30.html
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by:0nepiece
ID: 33492490
can anyone direct me to the download site of the stated version of all operating systems installer stated above? TIA
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by:Bawer
ID: 33492505
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by:madunix
ID: 33492615
My personal recommendation ubuntu
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by:arnold
arnold earned 100 total points
ID: 33492824
www.centos.org
www.ubuntu.net
www.debian.org
etc.

The item you've not included in your post is what the purpose: i.e. you have an old laptop and instead of throwing it away you want to learn/experiment with linux. Etc.
IMHO, since you are experimenting, pick one and see what it offers and hwo easy or difficult it is to use. Then try the next until you find one version with which you are comfortable.
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by:torimar
torimar earned 150 total points
ID: 33493027
Don't go for an old version of any Linux distro: that is pointless in my opinion. Try to find one that still works on this old hardware.

Most famous for old hardware support are the following distributions:
- Puppy Linux: http://www.puppylinux.com/  ...... works on down to i386 with 64 mb RAM
- Vector Linux: http://www.vectorlinux.com/ ....... works from Pentium III with 128 mb of RAM onwards; optimized for old hardware
(take the Standard or Light edition)

A tiny distribution with minimum requirements, like Damn Small Linux, is "Tiny Core": http://www.tinycorelinux.com/
But as minimal as its requirements is the comfort that it offers.

About 2 years ago I was in a similar situation as you are in now: there was this old AMD K3 450 with 300 mb of RAM that I wanted to equip with a new and up-to-date Linux. I was surprised to see how many of the small and lean distros refused to be installed because the processor architecture was no longer supported. Since I did not want Puppy at the time, I finally ended up installing either TinyMe or MiniMe, one of the small distros derived off PCLinuxOS (I can't tell you exactly which of these it was because the computer just exploded when I tried to switch it on).
Both distros seem to have fallen victim to the turbulences in the PCLinuxOS community, but at least TinyMe is still developed and offered for download: http://tinymelinux.com/doku.php/

Personally, I'd go for Puppy or Vector.
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by:Superdave
ID: 33493279
Whatever distribution you get, it would be worth your while to configure the kernel to not link in anything you don't need, and recompile it.
For GUI, don't install GNOME or KDE, but use a lighter-weight window manager like fvwm or xfce.
For a web browser, I use Opera 10.0 which runs fine on my Pentium-II 128MiB machine.  10.10 might be tolerable but newer versions are not designed for low-end hardware.  Firefox might also be tolerable.
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by:santoshmotwani
ID: 33493420
puppylinux
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by:Bawer
ID: 33494306
Ubuntu,,.. is great...
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by:onaas
ID: 33497184
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by:sgsm81
ID: 33514224
macpupfoxy, ubuntu, pclinuxos, dsl,
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by:uayneb
ID: 33517066
Ubuntu I think the recommended minimum is 256mb and it goes up from there.  It probably would run pretty slow on your laptop.  

If you just want to play around and learn linux, I'd actually recommend redhat 8 or redhat 9, free and a version of linux which came out years ago and has less memory requirement and memory usage then any newer version of linux.  I think the minimum for redhat 9 is like 64mb with recommended for GUI at 192Mb.     I installed redhat 9 on an old toshiba of mine that was back from about early 2000's with 256mb ram and it ran really well.  I could install apache on it and play with html, perl, etc.  



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by:Bawer
ID: 33518318
well nowadays actually people are looking for more robust machines i recommend  that you increase the RAM for the machine.
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by:uayneb
ID: 33527147
original poster mentioend: "  I'm trying to revive an old notebook that has Pentium III and 256 of ram. What os / linux os version should be most suitable in this case? TIA" ... so I'm assuming he just wants to mess with it.  The reason I brought my Toshiba up was just to do some practice adn development, didn't need robustness.

Depending on what original poster wants, yes he may need to add memory and be more robust.  If he just wants to learn linux, then he may be fine with just the 256mb

It's a good point though.
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by:0nepiece
ID: 33527676
@all: Thanks for everyone's posts. I've tried Ubuntu 10.04 just to test it, and it did ran slow cause of my hardware specs. I'm going to test dsl, pup and the rest of your suggestions soon.

@uayneb & Bawer: well, I'm trying to avoid buying new ram as much as possible. I'm reviving this computer well not really to mess with it but so that it'll be used for a daily basis. Meaning being able to use Word, Spreadsheet, Presentation and be able to connect and browse over the internet. :D
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by:mccracky
ID: 33639241
If you want to try out and are familiar more with Ubuntu, then you might try "Lubuntu" which is supposed to be lighter or even the "UNE" Netbook edition.

Really, it's up to you, but the "best" linux distro would probably be the one where you can get the most support (be it online, from friends --which distro do they run or are familiar with?, or local shops).

Have fun!
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by:rojasc
ID: 33659546
Try Xubuntu
http://www.xubuntu.org

this is the ubuntu for old pcs.
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by:mccracky
ID: 33662980
Actually, Lubuntu is the up and coming "light" ubuntu distro (or try Peppermint OS - http://peppermintos.com/).  Studies have show that Xubuntu isn't that much lighter than Gnome or KDE.
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by:torimar
ID: 33697482
Onepiece,
why do you request closure of this question instead of closing it yourself - which would be the normal way to go?

If you need help in doing so, check out this link: http://www.experts-exchange.com/help.jsp
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