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Best linux for older Dell laptop

Posted on 2013-01-05
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I inherited an old laptop that I wanted to setup for my son to watch either videos or youtube on browser.  The windows is corrupted beyond repair, so I want to put linux on it.  I am open to suggestions as to the best linux version to try.  I have dealt with Ubuntu on desktops; difficult to get used to.

Thanks for all suggestions.
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Question by:jjackson2004
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38747912
Ubuntu is one of the most popular distributions and one of the easiest to use. I have a couple of Ubunutu virtual machines along with SuSE and older RedHat. Ubuntu is the easiest of this lot.

So then if you find Ubuntu difficult to get used to, get a Windows XP license on eBay (legal, of course) and install XP on it.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:jjackson2004
ID: 38747950
Wow, that seems like a political response or at least a soapbox speech.  Have plenty of Windows XP licenses from old computers.  I wish to explore Linux.  If I am not mistaken, SuSE and Redhat required cash outlays, so I it against what I was looking for.  Linux is for the masses and I was asking for the one people thought best for a laptop.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38747959
Wow, that seems like a political response or at least a soapbox speech

That was a purely technical comment based on personal experience. Why would you think differently?

SuSE was free (although I purchased a box set to get support). RedHat was free (back then) although I purchased one boxe set to get support and downloaded future versions for nothing.

Linux has very tiny market share precisely because it is not for the masses.

So then stick with Ubuntu. It is the easiest of the lot and then spend the time to learn it.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:jjackson2004
ID: 38747967
Well when I googled the question, I found numerous responses about the lack of speed with Ubuntu.  And if you would go back and rationally read your response, you could reason why I would think differently.

But since you seem to be very informed about SuSE, I wish to get a version of the server that will support printing for a desktop as I am trying to mimic old 4.1Novell print server (for free). Can you point me in the correct direction?  I will open a new question if you need.

Secondly, When Redhat first came out, it was for fee as it was a version that offered support.  I did not follow it after that, so maybe it became a free version.
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As for the other remark, Linux is for the "free" masses.  Most of the dumb masses of the country use the software their company use.
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John Hurst earned 800 total points
ID: 38747975
My SuSE machine is old (2006). My Ubuntu machine is dated in 2011 so it is much newer.  My RedHat machines are date in 2005. They were workstation RedHat and not RedHat Server.

My remarks about ease of use and "the masses" are related to taking the CD (or ISO file) and installing the software and learning how to use it including special eth0 changes in RedHat to allow the network card to work.

I did install Samba on RedHat and SuSE to map folders back and forth between Linux and Windows. This is not "ease of use" . I did not have to do any of this with Ubuntu.

I think if you want a print server in Linux, you would need Samba and some other components (CUPS?) but I never did that and cannot tell you how it works. A Linux print server would indeed be a new question.

I still think Ubuntu is your best choice.  I had to work hard to understand Linux, much harder than to understand Windows.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:dbrunton
dbrunton earned 400 total points
ID: 38748037
What specs are your laptop?

In theory Linux will run on just about anything but the better the processor and the more memory the better it runs.  I suspect the Dell will be supported by most Linux versions though.

You can download most Linux distributions for free although they will take money.

Now you are trying to emulate a Novell Server - is this laptop going to be the print server for a range of machines and are they on a Novell network?  If they aren't on Novell then you can probably use Samba to be a print server.  There is also software which emulates Novell 2.2 and 3.1 (MarsNWE) but that probably isn't what you want.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 400 total points
ID: 38748155
look if one of these on this list suits your needs :
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-lightweight-linux-distributions-give-pc-lease-life/
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by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
ID: 38748163
What are the difficulties you experience? I'd try a few live CD's if I were you, Mint 14 xfce for example or LUbuntu.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38749204
@jjackson2004

Another approach if you want to learn Linux, is to put old Windows on the old laptop for your son.

Then get a copy of VMware Workstation V9 for your own machine. Download a couple of modern distributions, install them and test them. Learn how to network them.

It seems better to learn a modern version of Linux, just like it is better to learn modern versions of Windows. But modern operating systems need more horsepower than older operating systems.

So you have a couple of alternatives to consider here.

.... Thinkpads_User
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by:jjackson2004
ID: 38753407
I found and download Lunbuntu soon after the first response to this question.  Not terribly impressed with it, but it did seem to have all the necessary drivers, especially the wireless.  

In response to  @dbrunton, the printer server was a separate issue.  No the laptop is not involved for that, but I have several old desktops and old server that I would try.  What were the other program besides MarsNWE?

Thanks

 And the laptop is an old Inspiron, the one with the large screen E1705..
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by:dbrunton
ID: 38753505
If this is dual core and 2 Gb of memory then it should run pretty much any of the Linuxes.

If only 1 Gb then max it out with 2 Gb.  Much like Windows, likes memory.

I'm a fan of the Suse products.  It's not necessarily lightweight but it does the job.

Samba is the other product if you want to do networking.  Can imitate Windows networking, domains and such stuff.
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Assisted Solution

by:crgrindele
crgrindele earned 400 total points
ID: 38771355
That's a difficult question indeed, I like Linux Mint, but depending how old the PC is you may want to run a distribution with the XFCE, LXDE, or FVWM environments. And something that has a simple package system. There are literally hundreds of distributions to choose from, but stick with something that has a strong user base and based off of a well known distro such as Red Hat or Debian.
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by:nobus
ID: 38771810
any comment on my post, regarding light linux?
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by:jjackson2004
ID: 38952179
have not had much time to mess with it.  Wound up just buying him a new Windows PC.
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by:nobus
ID: 38952674
if no more help is needed - don't forget to close this
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