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Finding best distro for my computer

Hi, I just registered and thought I'd jump right in and ask for help. I'm currently using Windows XP and I'm getting so frustrated I'm ready to dump it and switch to Linux. The problem I'm having is determining the best distro for my computer. My experience with computers is limited; I only learned how to use them in 2001 and I'm only familiar with Windows. My computer is a 2001 Dell with a Pentium III processor, 30 GB hard drive, and 512 MB of RAM I'm hooked up to the internet via a high speed cable link so downloading shouldn't be a problem.

I'm looking for a distro that's easy to install and use, and would allow me to access and edit all the Windows documents I have saved. I mostly use the computer for e-mail and internet access.

Any suggestions which distro would be best for my computer? Thanks in advance.

Comments

  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    The P3 and the 500mb of ram slims your choices a bit as far as what will run and at what speed it will run at. Full fledged distros that have a Gnome or KDE desktop will slow down your computer, because they were designed for newer speedier hardware. I would advise downloading some Live CD's of smaller Linux distros and see if they suit your purpose. The Live CD's won't run fast, but, at least you can tell if you like working with them and if they do what you want them to.
    As far as reading Windows partitions, NTFS-3g is included in most distro repositories, if not on the Live CD itself, and that enables whatever Linux distro you're using to read Windows partitions and files.
    You can try these Distros first:
    http://www.slitaz.org/en/get/index.html Slitaz has an LXDE window manager, which is a bit lighter and faster than the full blown Gnome and KDE managers.
    http://antix.mepis.org/index.php?title=Main_Page AntiX was made to run on older computers, but, features minimalist display managers.
    http://puppylinux.org/main/index.php?file=Overview and Getting Started.htm Puppy Linux is also a favorite of those folks with older computers. It is also known for running in memory off of the Live CD, so, it will run faster than the other Live CD's. It is based on Ubuntu, and while minimal, it is full featured.

    I'm sure others will probably chime in and give their opinions, but at least that's a start.
    Hope it helped.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    At the end of the day your cpu speed and RAM should be sufficient for most distros, but you will need to use a lightweight window manager to minimize resource utilization. I would recommend checking out Slitaz or lubuntu because they both use LXDE which will give you a pleasant experience without overloading your system.
  • Thanks for the info Goineasy9. Puppy Linux is the one I've been leaning towards. From what I've read, it's compatible with Opera, easy to use and install and takes very little room. It also appears to be able to access and edit Windows files. The only thing is, I'm not planning to partition the hard drive and run both systems. I'd like to completely replace Windows with Linux. Unfortunately, the information I've been able to find seems to discourage launching Puppy Linux from the hard drive. I haven't had time to give the other links more than a cursory look so any information anyone has about them would be greatly appreciated.
  • Thanks for the info mfillpot. What little I've been able to dig up on lubuntu seems to indicate that it won't run Opera and that it can be a little buggy.Of course, I haven't had much time to research it so any additional information anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    rmiller wrote:
    Thanks for the info mfillpot. What little I've been able to dig up on lubuntu seems to indicate that it won't run Opera and that it can be a little buggy.Of course, I haven't had much time to research it so any additional information anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Unfortunately I can only offer advise on what to test, both of my machines have quite a bit more resources than your system, so I cannot test performance as well as you can.

    By what I can see there are no extensive dependencies on opera that would stop it from working on certain platforms. Most likely the negative reports are based upon an improperly built package that is being distributed, so I don;t think the opera issue can last for long. But as some external posts stated Lubuntu is currently a beta, they are still working out the kinks, but without users and the inevitable bugs reports they cannot be fixed.

    But if you are looking for a new user friendly distro that is stable then it would probable be best if you try out ubuntu and if gnome (the default window manager) is slow then you can try xubuntu (ubuntu with xfce) or just install xfce in ubuntu.
  • OK guys (and gals), I need to pick someone's brain. I fount a distro that looks promising for a complete replacement of Windows. Mint 9 LXDE has system requirements that are compatible with mine, seems compatible with Opera, and appears to have good reviews. Does anyone here have any experience with it? How easy is it to install and use? Does it use GUI's or line command? Is there a limit to what can be run on it? (Keep in mind I mostly use mine to access the internet, check e-mail, play some music, and view the occasional video.) Thanks in advance.
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    Mint is one of those distros that is recommended for new Linux users because it has all the extras and usually works right out of the box. If the LXDE version is light enough to work on your machine, you will be happy with it. I'm only wondering how well the P3 CPU will do. I guess you should try it and find out.
  • When I checked on a Mint forum, one user said his computer had a P2 and it ran fine. If that's the case, my P3 should work OK with it (I hope).
  • OK guys and gals, I've got another question for you. With Windows I need to use a registry repair program, antivirus, firewall, and anti-spyware in order to keep things working. How much of that kind of support (if any) will I need with Mint LXDE?
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    None. While folks will argue about the existence of virus' and malware in Linux, they have usually been in experimental stages. If you don't download programs from untrusted sites, and keep your firewall up, you should have no problems.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    rmiller wrote:
    OK guys and gals, I've got another question for you. With Windows I need to use a registry repair program, antivirus, firewall, and anti-spyware in order to keep things working. How much of that kind of support (if any) will I need with Mint LXDE?

    Registry Cleaner - NO - Linux based system to not use a registry, all configuration files are text based and easy to configure and note, so there is no need for a registry cleaner.

    Antivirus - Maybe - While there are a few viruses that infect Linux based systems you can only be infected by them if you run everything as root and don't verify what you installer, even with that the chances are still rare. I recommend using an antivirus program like clamav in your Linux systems not so much to protect you, but to clean viruses that cannot infect you but can be passed on to windows based systems through file transfers.

    Firewall - Yes and No - All Linux distributions include the kernel based stateful firewall called iptables. The default properties of a stateful firewall automatically give you accelerated protection, but it is always advised to configure your firewall to your specific needs to increase for increased security.

    Anti-spyware - NO - spyware does not currently target Linux based systems.

    you forgot Defrag. Defragmentation is not needed in Linux based systems because the common filesystems utilize smaller file blocks to distribute files which alleviates the needs to have to constantly re-organize the files on your hard drive.


    With all of the talk about security and the advantages in Linux i would be negligent if I did not mention that Linux based desktop systems are currently not as actively targeted by malicious software authors which is why you feel so safe. But as it gains popularity on desktop systems the authors of malicious software will try harder to find ways to exploit Linux systems, and the threats may increase which could prompt use of extra security software, at this time it is not an issue.
  • It's also good to note, that as of right now Linux has a better overall design to prevent malicious attempts to take over/mess up your PC. That being said, way are always found by people to infect a system, but even if Linux does become a more popular option you may not see viruses that have to same effects that many do on Windows systems.

    It's a generally more secure operating system, and for the time being that's something you can be confident in.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    The greatest stability issue in our competition (windows) is the registry. Utilizing th registry as a single configuration file that houses cryptic value that mean nothing to anyone and there is no way to comment your modifications. In Linux and Unix based applications the applications keep their own clean text or xml configuration files that you can easily comment your changes internally and back up individually. In addition the use of a single cryptic configuration file makes it far easier for malicious software to take control because you do not see their modification in the massive file and in many cases the users do not know where to look in the registry to purge the malicious software.
  • Thanks everyone. That gave me the information I needed. It looks like Mint 9 LXDE has everything I need, except Opera, right out of the box. I may have just found myself a weekend project.
  • May I ask why you need opera? Firefox, as you may know, is fast and safer than most web browsers. Is there something in opera that is a "can't do without"?
  • I originally installed it because of its size; it's much smaller than Firefox and size matters on my old machine. It won't matter as much with Mint but I've just gotten accustomed to Opera and kind of like it.
  • rmiller wrote:
    I originally installed it because of its size; it's much smaller than Firefox and size matters on my old machine. It won't matter as much with Mint but I've just gotten accustomed to Opera and kind of like it.

    It might be worth trying chromium. Ridiculously fast, and a pretty small install. It's not for everyone, but it's definitely my browser of choice.
  • To add to mike's post, you can also try google chrome as well.

    You might have mentioned this already, just to remind me, how big is your hard drive and how much space is left?
  • A couple of years ago I read a review of operating systems for older computers. I think it was done by PC World. They compared IE7, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. IE7 came in dead last, Firefox came in first but was noted to be a large file, Opera was noted to be just as fast as Firefox but smaller, and Chrome was noted to be the fastest of all but not stable (it was in beta form at the time). I went with Opera and have had no regrets. With Mint, I may have enough space on the hard drive to install Opera and compare it with Firefox or even install Chrome as well and do a comparison of the three. I'll have to get Mint installed first.
  • I think.. to find a suitable distro.. we need to take-a-try on random distro...
    when we find which distro are suitable... stick to it.
    learn how it operate..... just in my nutshell ;)

    start learn how to configure the hardware with linux.. about driver installation...etc
    then try play with update some program... try several desktop... lxde,kde,gnome..etc..
    find which more suitable... :cheer:
    On that time... we learn lot thing about linux.. and hey..i am newbies to linux too..
    i ready to learn some new stuff....
  • gomergomer Posts: 158
    What I have done in the past for low powered / underpowered machines, to get some more life out of them is cross-compiled gentoo linux for them from a much beafier machine. Gentoo, I find, allows for a lot of really nice optimizations and has great documentation and instructions on how to implement those optimizations for underpowere hardware. The down side is of course the need to compile everything which can take FOR-EVER on an underpowered machine, hence the cross compiling from a much more powere build machine. Of course the disadavantage is the need for the second machine, but if you're just dusting off old hardware to breath some more life into it, it's not a bad way to go.
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