Linux for a legacy computer

ManyCowsMooManyCowsMoo Registered User
edited April 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey guys, so I have an old Celeron 500mhz machine with 192mb of ram and I've been thinking about putting linux on it. All I use it for is minor webbrowsing and IMs and I've always wanted to try out linux so why not now. Currently it's running Windows 98SE but it's a bit sluggish. So my question for you is which distro is easy to use and would run relatively fast and not take up too much ram?

I don't mind getting my hands a little dirty and doing some googling to get everything working, but I'd rather avoid it. As I said, all I need is a web browser, preferablly firefox, and an IM client with AIM, YIM, MSN, and ICQ. Also, me and my buddies sometimes use ventrilo to talk to each other while playing games and it's nice to use this old computer instead of my primary one so I dont have to hear music/game sounds while they're trying to talk; I looked on the vent site and it doesn't look like there is a linux client, but maybe theres a third party one you guys know about?

1. Old computer, 500mhz celeron 192mb ram
2. Want an easy to use and low system requirements distro of linux
3. Is there a vent client for linux?

ManyCowsMoo on


  • ElectricTurtleElectricTurtle Registered User
    edited April 2007
    If you're really looking to dump the bloat, I'd go with Damn Small Linux (.org), which is a reduced version of Knoppix, which is a reduced version of Debian (and Debian can use some reduction... bloatzilla). You'll need to get Firefox and IM clients separately because it's a very minimalist distro (edit: I am dumb and not current, the latest version comes with these by default now), but honestly I've really liked DSL. Not that I'm much of a Lunix guy, so maybe you shouldn't listen to me.

    ElectricTurtle on
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    (Seneca Philosophus, De tranquillitate animis)
  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I installed Gentoo on an old 400mhz pentium-2. It was a fancy p2 compared to other p2 chips, but this was 4 years ago so it was still old as dirt. At least it wasn't 72pin RAM like my first computer.

    Anyway, Gentoo had really good tutorials for how to set it up, AND I had done it before on my main computer so I knew what I was getting into. I would set up a large install to compile overnight, and then before leaving to go to work I would, say, compile KDE.

    Very time consuming, but it ended up being surprisingly zippy for being an old computer.

    Ultimately, though, I would suggest against Gentoo since you said you don't really want to get your hands dirty. Damn Small Linux is already compiled. Knoppix has a live CD if you'd like to give it a spin. I'm not sure if DSL offers a live CD, although I think all of the distros do nowadays. I personally would try Knoppix first and see how sluggish it is. If it's too slow, try DSL.

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  • MuridenMuriden Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    DSL is great for legacy machines but as with all linux distros be ready to learn how to do a lot of stuff you've taken for granted with windows. I personally don't care for DSL's window manager (fluxbox?) but it's a matter of preference. I would NOT advise gentoo as you're just taking your first steps into linux, from what i've seen using gentoo as your first distro is like being a virgin and skipping all the foreplay, straight to the sodomy!

    I would suggest Ubuntu as it's one of the most newbie friendly distros but I don't know if it'll be too bloated. So give it a try and if it's not performing well on your machine try DSL. Great thing about DSL and Ubuntu is that they're both Live CD's so you can try it before you format your disk.

    Web Browsing - Firefox is fine.
    IM - Gaim. It is more often than not bundled with the distro you're getting so you don't have to worry about hunting another one down.
    Vent - My biggest grief of using linux right now. The vent team has said that they will release a linux client with the next major release, yay! Unfortunately that release has no stated ETA. You can get vent working with WINE but it can be a bit difficult. I got it working on my linux lappy but could only hear and not speak with it.

    Muriden on
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  • LodbrokLodbrok Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    The version of ubuntu with the Xfce desktop, Xubuntu, is a possibility, and from what I've seen it works great. Your computer might be borderline old for that one though, so I would also like to recommend Vector Linux. This is a distro based on slackware optimized for old hardware, and it worked excellent when I used it.

    Lodbrok on
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