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Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:45 pm
by TheLegit
Hello, I am currently a Windows user but I wanted to try out Linux. I have tried out some of the Linux OSes using Virtualbox on my newer computer. One of the problems that I am facing is that I have this old computer that currently has Windows 7 at the moment. The computer was good for awhile but then the performance started hindering. It has gotten so slow and crippled it cannot even open Google Chrome. Now it will not even boot into Windows 7 anymore. This lead me to start doing some research on the Internet about possible solutions to revive that old thing. Now of course obviously I knew that I had to upgrade the hardware on it. This laptop is a Dell Latitude D630 with the following specs:
2GB of RAM (DDR2)
Intel Core 2 Duo (2GHZ Dual Core Single Thread)
80GB Hard Drive
Possibly 64 Bit? I did some research and seems like it is at least 64 bit Capable
The upgrades are that I would like to upgrade to at least an SSD and 4 GB of RAM, and possibly the processor to a quad core but I don't know if I can do that. Now I have read the Dell Forums and according to that I would be able to upgrade it to 8 GB of RAM if the BIOS was upgraded. I also wanted to Dual Boot Windows 10 and Linux for compartmentalization and compatibility purposes. My question for that is, if the BIOS can be upgraded how do you do that?
So my question is, alongside Windows 10, what would be the best recommended Linux OS for this use case scenario? The reason why I am asking this is because I am kind of still new to Linux even though I have played around with it a little bit on VirtualBox already. There are a lot of choices of distros and it can be overwhelming for someone like me. I am looking for something stable but still with relatively new software so I have been looking around the Debian and Ubuntu LTS based Distributions. I am not really sure what the differences are between the two and I have been really struggling which one to go with. I have been leaning towards MX Linux and Linux Mint but also I have been looking at some Linux OSes like Peppermint, Ubuntu LTS, Trisquel (FSF Approved Ubuntu-Based Distro), Debian Buster, and Pop_! OS. Do you have any suggestions? Would something like MX Linux and/or Linux Mint run just fine on it and be good for a new user like me?
Thanks,
I apologize for the long post.
TheLegit

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:28 pm
by athi
D630 are the original small and light office laptops. I have a few D630 over the years and still running a couple with Mint Mate 19.2, Mint XFCE would also run fine on them. Never try Win10 on them, but Win10 should run just a bit sluggish most likely. A19 is the last officially released BIOS and can be flash from Windows or DOS. Any 2.5" SSD will fit these and according to this post, with A19 BIOS you can get 8GB DDR2 SODIMM in them (4GB DDR2 are rare and pricey).
https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads ... e.1347702/

D630 service manual: https://downloads.dell.com/manuals/all- ... _en-us.pdf
D630 A19 Bios:https://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en ... 30/drivers

Edit: you can also get a 2.5" HDD/SSD adapter for the DVD drive.
https://www.amazon.com/SATA-Hard-Driver ... way&sr=8-9

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:45 pm
by MontyMan
Dear Legit,

I recommend you add memory and flash the latest BIOS first, then try Linux Mint MATE from a live USB stick. Make sure you try your USB sockets, built-in pointing device, mic and speakers, Wi-fi, buttons for enabling/disabling Wi-fi, and for volume/mute. I think you'll find that Mint MATE will run not just well on that computer, but put lots of snap back into it compared to Win7. When you fire up Win7 to pull off backups of files, photos, and other content onto USB devices, remember you can go into the task manager and disable any services you don't need for the moment. You may find just by turning off the Wi-fi it will run much faster in the old Windows 7 world, just because so much Windows 7 software automatically installs over time, then wastes time and resources contacting heaven knows what Internet sites. Once you no longer need Win7, you can swap your HDD for a modestly larger solid state drive, boot from the Mint stick again and install this time.

HTH
Monty.

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:31 pm
by jglen490
I have a similar machine, Toshiba A135. It has run Peppermint, Mint Mate, and a slew of other Linuxes just fine. In fact right now I am trying Kubuntu 18.04 LTS 32-bit. So far so good. Other than graphics limitations, a lot of the old birds work pretty well with more modern Linuxes.

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 5:51 pm
by br1anstorm
Hello Legit

I'm not sufficiently knowledgeable to comment on hardware suitability or capacity, or on ideas for upgrading. But I too have made the shift to Linux on several old(er) laptops, usually keeping a dual-boot setup with Windows 7.

I'd offer one or two thoughts, for what they are worth...

- by all means replace/upgrade hardware where it seems sensible to do so. But don't spend a fortune on new SSD or whatever, and remember to keep things in balance. To use a motoring analogy, it's unwise to transplant a big new powerful engine into your car without upgrading the brakes and strengthening the suspension too! Also some older system features or elements (USB sockets, wifi, video drivers etc) simply won't work well with newer operating systems;

- don't even bother with Windows 10. Older computers struggle to run it, it is heavy on resources, keeping it up to date is a nightmare.... and for what? Use Win7 for a little longer (EOL is approaching) but plan to adapt and move over to Linux. It just makes sense;

- and which Linux? This is a Mint forum, and I'm a Mint XFCE user. I like the XFCE desktop , and it's lighter on resources than Cinnamon. But the MATE version should be equally good. I have Mint 18.3 and 19.1 on various laptops. They run fine for most purposes (I'm not a gamer or graphics-heavy user). I also have MX Linux, which is surprisingly fast and well-supported (forum support is important for newbies). I like it a lot, and it is arguably better on some older machines than Mint. It still offers a 32-bit edition. MX perhaps takes a little more getting used to: Mint is easier for those just transitioning from Windows.

- but choice of distro is very personal. For both technical and useability reasons, give your shortlisted options a decent trial from a Live USB before making the choice of what to install.

Above all, enjoy experimenting and exploring the world of Linux. It really is very rewarding....

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:54 pm
by missmoondog
fwiw, i have an older toshiba laptop with a single core 1.5ghz cpu and only 2gb's memory that's has run lubuntu, mint and currently has bodhi legacy 5.0 on it. i always use the xfce desktop due to it's lightness. definitely not a speed demon but it runs well enough to use it without getting frustrated so bad i want to smash it!!

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:42 pm
by lsemmens
I've actually got a few old Core2-Duos from XP days running 9.1 Cinnamon, so you shouldn't have too much trouble. XFCE might be the better option though

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:16 am
by I2k4
My Dell 1520 has similar specs, bought with XP during the Vista debacle. Wiped XP at end of support and ran for four years on M17.x Cinnamon 32 bit. It's now running XFCE 64 bit, no problems - I switched to save RAM and because third-party software I use stopped supporting 32 bit. XFCE has gotten more refined recently and PCManFM provides a dual pane file manager comparable to Cinnamon's very good Nemo.

I always thoroughly pre-test any new Mint version on the particular box and all attached peripherals for some weeks using persistent live USB. It's not unusual for minor glitches with an initial release to show up and be fixed with *.1 or *.2 . There's no substitute for simply booting an OS to see how it works and whether you like a DE, or don't.

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 3:44 am
by carum carvi
TheLegit wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:45 pm
Hello, I am currently a Windows user but I wanted to try out Linux. I also wanted to Dual Boot Windows 10 and Linux for compartmentalization and compatibility purposes. My question for that is, if the BIOS can be upgraded how do you do that?
I agree with what other users already advised as well: You could by a second hand computer and save money and time, instead of trying to upgrade such an old machine. A second hand Lenovo Thinkpad T420 / T430 / T440 ( 125-225 dollars) will run any Linux OS smoothly on it. Lenovo Thinkpad T series have got the best reputation on this forum. Thinkpads have got great support. Many parts can easily be replaced simply and cheaply for years to come. No need to update the BIOS/UEFI anymore either. And Windows10 will run smoothly alongside Linux on a Thinkpad. The thing about Linux is that it can cause some (minor) hardware conflicts on some computers and attached hardware. (wifi / videocard / printer). That's always my first tip to a new Linux user: choose your hardware wisely when thinking about using Linux.

TheLegit wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:45 pm
So my question is, alongside Windows 10, what would be the best recommended Linux OS for this use case scenario? I have been leaning towards MX Linux and Linux Mint but also I have been looking at some Linux OSes like Peppermint, Ubuntu LTS, Trisquel (FSF Approved Ubuntu-Based Distro), Debian Buster, and Pop_! OS. Do you have any suggestions? Would something like MX Linux and/or Linux Mint run just fine on it and be good for a new user like me?
I think you have done some good research and you mentioned some excellent OS picks. MX Linux and LinuxMint are the most popular OSes for a reason. I have tried almost all the OSes you mentioned above and I must say that LinuxMint is the most comfortable in use for someone like me, who is still a newbie. LInuxMint comes closest to the ease of use that Windows has. And LinuxMint has got a great and friendly forum! :D Have fun with trying out different flavors of Linux!

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 4:13 am
by catweazel
TheLegit wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:45 pm
2GB of RAM (DDR2)
Intel Core 2 Duo (2GHZ Dual Core Single Thread)
80GB Hard Drive
https://emmabuntus.sourceforge.io/media ... p/Download

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:09 am
by athi
LuvNix wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:40 am
Or buy a 4gb chip, assuming the motherboard is capable of it. Have actually always had good experiences with Dell systems, don't know about nowadays but Dell has always been a good brand for me.

Bought this 10-going on 11yr old Dell inspiron 1545 laptop from a guy off of Craigslist for $90 bucks, very happy with the thing. When someone starts talking about upgrading everything, cpu, memory, hard drive etc. Still think it's likely gonna be better/cheaper just to find a good used system.

Still that old Dell work horse could very well be worth saving too. Just wouldn't go crazy with it, ram upgrade + yep hdisk, someone can get by with 80gbs of storage. Not the most comfortable situation but doable. Given the age of an 80gb drive, thing is likely to die soon, though gnu/Linux is kinder to hardware VS windows, which I personally think m$ intentionally tries to burn out hardware components prematurely. Another story though.
Dell build quality has gone downhill for a while now. Love the old D6xx, D8xx Latitude line, typing this on a D830 right now. Not really sure how much longer these core2duo era PC will be viable for main line Linux though. They would still be useful for very light weight distro (puppy etc.) but I find these distro to take much more work to setup correctly and very limited.

MS don't have to burn out hardware, they just pile on more eye candy and bloatware so you have to upgrade the hardware to run the new O/S.

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:54 am
by sarge816
For normal usage, Mint 19.x Xfce will work just fine on that 2GB DDR2. The biggest upgrade you can make (by far) is an SSD. A 120GB can be had for $20-30 on Amazon depending on which brand you pick. I'd try it out with your current ram before spending big money on obsolete and sometimes pricey DDR2 modules, unless you can score a deal on Ebay or something.

These old Dell laptops were built to last, love them. Wife and I have matching 9 year old e6410 laptops (made of real metal, wow) with 1st gen i5's and SSDs happily running the latest Mint & Win10 Pro (wife, ugh). Picked them both up for less than $200 in outstanding condition some years back. I also have a 12 year old, massive 17" m6300 desktop replacement laptop with C2D 2.5GHz/4GB DDR2/120GB SSD running Mint Xfce that I screw around with at work. Got it for $75 on Ebay 6 years ago and put maybe $100 into it for refurb, looks new. You can't find a legit 17", 16:10 aspect, non-glossy screen these days on laptops (absolutely HATE 16:9 on laptops). It's freaking huge! Old computers are still perfectly viable machines for most usage.

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:27 am
by Petermint
Linux works in 2GB. Google Chrome needs 200GB.

If an old computer has a dedicated graphics chip, every Linux GUI works. Without dedicated GPU, you need Xfce with all options switched off.

SSDs are always a good upgrade. Ask anyone who has bumped a PC off a desk. A magnetic disk is the first thing to fail and may die just from your elbow bumping the PC while the disk is spinning. With SSD, the SSD is the last thing to fail after the fall crushes the screen and your dog* eats the motherboard.

* Never let a dog eat the Lithium battery. Well, not if it is your dog. Yappy pests from next door are an exception.

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:33 am
by catweazel
Petermint wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:27 am
Linux works in 2GB. Google Chrome needs 200GB.
"Works" not being the operative word.

https://linux.slashdot.org/story/19/08/ ... he-desktop

For example.

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:51 am
by 2006 Green Penguin
I have a Toshiba harman kardon with
2.8 gb ram
core 2 processor
1tb hard drive
64 bit processor
I run cinnamon 19.1

if you look on ebay or other web site like this you can find computer that are not to expensive . many of doze computer that are for sale on the internet can not run window 7 or run it not very fast but it run Linux Mint great.

hope this can help you

Re: Best Distro For Old Computers

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 3:12 pm
by Mr_Reed
I have a couple machines with single core AMDs (a sempron and turion) that seem to have less cpu usage spikes when they run Lubuntu.

However I like the look of Mint a little better. I have tried LM xfce several times, but the processor usage will spike to 30% just from circling the mouse cursor around, and will spike to 100% when opening Firefox. Oftentimes they spike to 60% or more just moving around and opening different menus etc....

My question is can I get LM xfce to perform like Lubuntu or is that not possible? If Lubuntu works good, just go with that?