Here's a summary of the distro's I've looked at in recent weeks for older machines. In each case the latest 32-bit versions were tested using a Live-USB, where possible with PAE enabled using "forcepae" otherwise the non-PAE version was used. Installation of some was attempted as noted below.
- LM13 (Kernel 3.2.0-23-generic from Live-USB)
Ubuntu 16.04.1 [added later]
Ubuntu 14.04.5 [added later]
PuppyLinux Tahr 6.0.5 pae (would not boot, couldn't "forcepae") [added later]
PuppyLinux Tahr 6.0.5 no-pae (Kernel 3.14.56 from Live-USB) [added later]
- LMDE 2
Debian 8.7.1 MATE [added later]
bl-Hydrogen (BunsenLabs Linux)
CentOS 6.8 [added later]
AntiX 16.1 [added later]
MX-14.4 (based on the older Debian 7 Wheezy) [added later]
MX-16 (based on the Debian Jessie) [added later]
- ArchLinux (command line)
Manjaro xfce 16.10.3
Manjaro kde 16.10.3
Parabola MATE, Parabola
Most versions used Linux Kernel 4 except some of the older ones such as LM13 (Kernel 3.2.0-23-generic) and PuppyLinux Tahr (Kernel 3.14.56).
Ubuntu-Based distros all installed OK but showed the jerkiness described previously in both graphical and Grub's character based UI's. Only the older versions were different: LM13 worked perfectly. Ubuntu 14.04.5 worked but mouse movements were also not smooth, due probably to the demands of the GUI (this was not the regular seconds long "jerkiness" shown by the newer distros).
None of the Debian based distros finished booting from a Live-USB but crashed somewhere, so couldn't be tested EXCEPT for MX-16. LMDE 2 crashed repeating the error message "[xxx.xxxxxx] wistron_btns: unknown key code 10" continuously, as did other debian-based distros. I did very little troubleshooting; presumably someone with more experience could get some of these to install.
[Added later] Debian 8.7.1 was interesting showing both the wistron_btns error and a graphical desktop. Refer my posting below on 12/2/2017.
[Added later] MX14.4 non-pae took a while to go through its startup but the screen went blank when the GUI started. It took approx. 10min to appear again and more minutes before mouse and keyboard responded, even then so slowly as not to be useable. (I couldn't get MX14.4 pae to start as it wouldn't accept "forcepae", which is a pity as this laptop has pae even though not flagged.)
[Added later] MX-16 got far enough to show a graphical desktop then seemed to freeze, but after a long pause it finished building the desktop. Once operating CPU loading was around 70% but mouse operation was a bit jerky although much less so than the latest Ubuntu based distros. Installing MX-16 to the harddisk made startup much better but the jerkiness was worse, becoming similar to LM17.x and LM18.
The ArchLinux distros ran well from the Live-USB showing good performance and low RAM usage except for Manjaro, which was slow. Unfortunately I was only able to get Manjaro to install to the hard disk (with difficulties), all the others had various issues during installation e.g. unable to install Grub. Again, I did very little troubleshooting and presumably someone with more experience could get some of these to install.
Manjaro xfce installed to the hard disk and had good mouse response, unfortunately programs started very, very slowly. (Manjaro kde ran into issues with Intel's i915 graphics driver and crashed repeatedly.)
So meanwhile I'll stay with LM13 on this backup machine until I can find a newer distro. Perhaps I should add a virus/bot checker to help with security?
LM13 was the only distro to install without issues and run well showing low CPU usage, rapid mouse response, and good program performance. This is presumably is why Mint is so popular (on suitable hardware Mint's newer versions are great too). Thank you, Clem and all other involved!
The Linux 4 kernel is not the problem as Archlinux's distros use it and perform well from Live-USBs. The problem seems to lie somewhere early in the boot sequence since jerkiness is also seen in Grub's character based menus.
Any ideas how this jerkiness can be resolved with new version of Mint (or other Ubuntu based distros), anyone?
- Acer Travelmate 2303LM
RAM 2GB (graphics 32MB, set in bios)
CPU Intel Celeron M 340 32bit
Graphics Intel 852GM/855GM x86/MMX/SSE2