Best Linux OS for older devices

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Domzzy
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Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Domzzy » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:55 pm

Hello everyone. I'm plannig to buy IBM Thinkpad laptop(not Lenovo thinkpad). I will
upgrade the hardware with SSD and bigger RAM card, but my biggest concern
is operating system. As you know they are quite old(Pentium III...) so I need something
that's light and stable and "similar" to Windows OS because I'm coming from
years of using Windows operating systems. I heard a little bit, but mostly,
about Peppermint, Lubuntu and Ubuntu. I would like to hear your opinion on
perfect Linux OS for older devices and some advice on how to get it (if
it's available) and how to install it?
Last edited by JeremyB on Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Moved to Chat about Linux

DAMIEN1307
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by DAMIEN1307 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:31 pm

i can only speak for myself here, but peppermint 9 is a great, solid OS for such an older system as yours and not much of a learning curve coming from windows...with the hardware updates you are making it should not be any problem...you will need to ascertain if your system supports 32 bit or 64 bit. i have provided the link below to download their ISO...once you download the ISO image, then you just need to burn it to either a dvd or preferably a usb...if your doing this from a windows system, i found that CDburnerXP works perfectly for doing this and is self explanatory as to how to use it to burn the ISO to either device...once you have done this, then you can always come back to the "chat about Linux" portion of the forum here and ask how to make the usb or dvd the first boot device in order to download the ISO to the "new to you" computer...DAMIEN

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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by sleeper12 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:15 pm

You also need to consider if your machine is PAE or non-PAE. Antix works well on older computers & it's non-PAE.
https://antixlinux.com/

Whatever OS you decide on is going to involve a learning curve, so be prepared for that.
By the way, Peppermint 9 is PAE.
Last edited by sleeper12 on Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Neil Edmond
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Neil Edmond » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:28 pm

Hey Domzzy, which model IBM ThinkPad are you planning to get? That info is going to impact the choice of operating system as much as anything.

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Pierre
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Pierre » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:40 pm

some folks will tell you to try out, either:
anti-X
https://antixlinux.com/download/
OR
MX Linux
https://mxlinux.org/download-links/
as both of those Operating Systems are designed for those older machines.
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by AndyMH » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:33 am

What's wrong with lenovo? I've just bought yet another T430 off ebay as a test bed (to add to the two I already have) and it was less than £100. At the same time a T430S went for £70 - so cheap. The early lenovo thinkpads are just as robust as IBM and if you don't like the later keyboards go for a T410 or T420. Do this and you won't have to worry about a lightweight distro, they will all run cinnamon fine.
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Moem » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:46 am

Neil Edmond wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:28 pm
Hey Domzzy, which model IBM ThinkPad are you planning to get? That info is going to impact the choice of operating system as much as anything.
It very much is. If you get one of the last IBM Thinkpads, for example a T43, and max out the RAM to 2GB... I bet that you can run Mint XFCE on that.
Pierre wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:40 pm
some folks will tell you to try out, either:
https://antixlinux.com/download/
OR
https://antixlinux.com/download/
as both of those Operating Systems are designed for those older machines.
The 'both' is not surprising here... since you posted the same link twice. :?
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by AndyMH » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:58 am

To add to my previous, I've got an old T60 that has LM19.0 mate on it. Doesn't get used much but okay, also tried it with XFCE and that was ok but prefer the mate desktop.
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Pjotr » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:29 am

Domzzy wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:55 pm
Pentium III
That's hopeless. Forget it. No modern operating system will run on that. At least not one that's fit for ordinary day-to-day use (web surfing, e-mail).

It's not only the system requirements of the operating system that you have to consider, but also the applications. Notably a modern secure web browser. No way that's going to work in the least bit satisfactorily (if at all) on a prehistoric Pentium III machine.
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Moem » Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:08 am

Domzzy wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:55 pm
some advice on how to get it (if it's available) and how to install it?
You'll find that information on the homepage of the OS that you're interested in trying out. Your favourite search engine will take you there.
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by jimallyn » Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:19 am

The antiX website says "It should run on most computers, ranging from 256MB old PIII systems with pre-configured swap to the latest powerful boxes." I don't remember whether I have ever installed it on a PIII or not, but I have installed it on some pretty puny systems.

All the other suggestions made here are good, too. Peppermint, MX, and antiX are all fine distros for older/weaker computers. I have a computer here (not currently hooked up) that came with Win98SE on it, and I have some version of Linux on it, but I don't remember what exactly. Probably antiX.

A lot of applications will be fine — slow, but fine other than that — on that machine, but modern browsers eat up a lot of RAM and CPU, and many web pages will be absolutely unbearable. I have used the Midori browser on a few old computers, as it is pretty lightweight. Using the mobile version of websites is helpful, too. (Such as m.linuxmint.com.) I suspect you won't be happy with that computer for very long. But good luck to you!
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Dot_mdb » Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:01 pm

Pjotr wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:29 am
Domzzy wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:55 pm
Pentium III
That's hopeless. Forget it. No modern operating system will run on that. At least not one that's fit for ordinary day-to-day use (web surfing, e-mail).

It's not only the system requirements of the operating system that you have to consider, but also the applications. Notably a modern secure web browser. No way that's going to work in the least bit satisfactorily (if at all) on a prehistoric Pentium III machine.
I completely agree with Pjotr's assessment. That agreement is based on experience with actually working on machines that are up to 15 years old. Behind me, as I type this I have an old Pentium 4 machine from 2004. It is now "running" Mint Xfce. Yes it will boot but it is not suitable for anything other than an example of how bad old machines are for modern computing and especially for Internet browsing. People give me (for free) machines that are 5 years old that usually just need Windows reinstalled or maybe a hard drive or memory replacement. Why would anyone BUY a Pentium 3 machine unless you need it for a museum? That machine has less than 1/3 the processing power of a low end Chromebook.

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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Joe-C » Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:36 pm

An old laptop might weigh 3 kg, considered portable at one time. Yet another disadvantage even if the computer is free.

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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Fuzzy Penquin » Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:21 pm

I would like to add my two cents to this. I have an IBM Thinkpad X20 with Puppy Linux installed. It's 19 years old now. It is a Pentium 3. It won't hold more than 320MB RAM. You may or may not be able to upgrade to an SSD, but I've never looked into it. Extremely low amount of RAM is your biggest problem here, though. There is only so much you can do for such an ancient computer; they're great for tinkering and playing with, but I don't think you'll like it for daily usage as your only computer. The hardware on mine runs Puppy really well, and as I recall the default lightweight software runs ok on it too. But web surfing will be slow and some websites will be too much for it to handle. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore my tiny Thinkpad and I refuse to get rid of it. But it's more a toy anymore than anything useful in today's world of demanding software (web browser is your biggest offender).

If you are looking for a cheap older laptop, I really do suggest that you look for something that's 5-10 years old. Windows laptops don't hold any value once "old" (unlike Macs), so you can find them for good prices in places like Craigslist and eBay, or whatever is your local version of those if you are not from the US or Canada. You will get more satisfactory performance from something in the Intel Core 2 Duo (they're 13 years old) era or newer.
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by lsemmens » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:24 pm

Fuzzy Penquin wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:21 pm


If you are looking for a cheap older laptop, I really do suggest that you look for something that's 5-10 years old. Windows laptops don't hold any value once "old" (unlike Macs), so you can find them for good prices in places like Craigslist and eBay, or whatever is your local version of those if you are not from the US or Canada. You will get more satisfactory performance from something in the Intel Core 2 Duo (they're 13 years old) era or newer.
I agree, check out your local government auctions, often they have machines that have been upgraded as part of their usual cycle. Some are extremely good value for money.
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by rick gen » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:00 am

I always find myself very annoyed with these types of threads about Linux for old devices.
I bought a used Thinkpad Lenovo laptop online a year or so ago for around 200 dollars from Bestbuy.
I never doubted it would work on many latest Linux distros because it went with Windows 10.

Why some people keep resurrecting very old PCs is beyond my comprehension
when affordable ones with even earlier dual cores are still capable.
I often wonder how many more Linux developers are still wasting their time with older devices,
instead of moving forward, just to cater to users who are basically doing it for no useful purpose other than for tinkering.

I have had a very old laptop with about 1GB ram, yet can run Windows XP smoothly.
XP is probably one of the greatest OSes that was ever developed. It's elegant and fast.
Have Linux devs even able to match XP? A resounding NO.
What we call distros for old pc's are almost like using text-based DOS with ugly-looking GUI.

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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by AndyMH » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:07 am

I bought a used Thinkpad Lenovo laptop online a year or so ago for around 200 dollars
+1 I have three thinkpad T430 laptops, the last one cost me £90 about two weeks ago. More than fast enough for cinnamon.
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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Moem » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:21 am

rick gen wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:00 am
What we call distros for old pc's are almost like using text-based DOS with ugly-looking GUI.
You've not actually used many of them, have you? Here's screenshots from MX Linux, Peppermint OS and AntiX:

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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by Dot_mdb » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:40 am

Moem wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:21 am
rick gen wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:00 am
What we call distros for old pc's are almost like using text-based DOS with ugly-looking GUI.
You've not actually used many of them, have you? Here's screenshots from MX Linux, Peppermint OS and AntiX:
Moem's suggestions are good ones. I've played with the three of them and they are all good. In my opinion MX Linux is the best of the three. But for me, if a machine won't run one of the three flavors of Mint then it is just too old to keep around. MX Linux is important because it is based on Debian and not Ubuntu.

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Re: Best Linux OS for older devices

Post by BG405 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:13 pm

rick gen wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:00 am
Why some people keep resurrecting very old PCs is beyond my comprehension
when affordable ones with even earlier dual cores are still capable.
Affordability is entirely subject to one's disposable income. Also, some people do it as a hobby. In my case I resurrected an ancient Dell 350MHz PII mostly out of curiosity and decided it'd be a good candidate for use for archival purposes, so I fitted a 5-port USB card and swapped the CD-ROM for a 5¼ inch floppy drive, so I can archive all the old pc magazine cover disks etc. & if I can get my CatWeazel PCI card working I'll be able to use it for archival of my Commodore 64 stuff .. and, at some point, resume development of my GUI project.

I'd also like to add that I'm currently 100% dependent on hand-me-downs to fix up and can not at present afford a decent replacement mouse, let alone a computer. My newest machine is almost 5 years old & that was also given to me.
rick gen wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:00 am
I often wonder how many more Linux developers are still wasting their time with older devices,
instead of moving forward, just to cater to users who are basically doing it for no useful purpose other than for tinkering.
I'm afraid I disagree. Apart from being a hobby, these machines still have their uses. I'm glad there are still viable (and quite decent) OSes to run on them. There are also the poorer countries to consider. :wink: :)
Moem wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:21 am
MX Linux, Peppermint OS and AntiX
Of the three, I've so far only tried Peppermint (7, it was a while ago) and really liked the look of it. Still have the ISO. Must try the latest one. :)
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