View Full Version : Thinkpad T42 - Ubuntu, Lubuntu or Xubuntu (11.10)?

October 14th, 2011, 09:35 AM
Which one is more suitable for an old Thinkpad T42?


Intel Pentium M (Banias) 1.5 GHz
ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 with 32MB
15.0" TFT display with 1024x768 resolution (XGA)
1 GiB Ram

Modern tablet are even more powerful than this machine today, but still I want to install the latest innovation made in Canonical.

So, what's the best deal for me? (consider I come from the comfy Ubuntu 11.04 with classic gnome)
My options are there:
Ubuntu with Unity
Ubuntu with gnome


Olle Wiklund
October 14th, 2011, 09:48 AM
Hi alexan,

I run vanilla Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with gnome on a Thinkpad T42, and I am satisfied with it.

Yes, there are some new things, that you get with the brand new version. I would avoid unity on such old hardware, so I would recommend Xubuntu, Lubuntu or Linux Mint with gnome 2 (i.e. vanilla Mint).

Have fun finding out what is best for you :-)

October 14th, 2011, 09:52 AM
Hi Alexan,

We have a similar spec Toshiba with the P-M 1.5 and 1GB RAM, but the graphics are nVidia. It likes Lubuntu and Xubuntu, but Natty (11.04) was a nightmare on it. Have yet to try Oneiric (11.10) but the Oneiric Beta 2 was as flaky as Natty with new and interesting problems of its own. This may have changed, of course.

Lubuntu has been good to us on a variety of machines in previous releases, and is well matched to your hardware. Xubuntu is a bit weightier, but brings a simple lightweight compositor that can add a hint of transparency to the desktop. It should work well.

With a new release like Oneiric, expect a few intial problems until there has been time for some feedback and corrective updates.

Unless you love tinkering, my personal recommendation would be to use the Long Term Support release of Xubuntu which is stable and well suited to these machines. That's Xubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. It's up to 10.4.2 now, you can get it here (http://cdimages.ubuntu.com/xubuntu/releases/lucid/release/xubuntu-10.04.2-desktop-i386.iso)

Hope that helps! ;)

October 14th, 2011, 09:56 AM
Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity2D on a T40 (same specs of T42, only added 2gb ram and a 160gb hd) works like a charm, fast and reliable.

October 14th, 2011, 10:22 AM
Also you could try the gnome-session-fallback package and use the ubuntu-classic desktop from the login screen.

It is similar to the classic gnome that you know now, but there are big differences, the major one being that you need Alt+Right Click to add, move or remove any applets, and also to change panel properties. Applets are also auto-positioned to right, left, or centre of the panels, and I think you can only sort their order, not whether they are at the right, left or centre of the panel; I haven't had time to investigate that fully yet.

Worth investigating, I think. I quite like it, and I think it my be a refuge from unity, which i still do not like, though 11.10 is many times better than 11.04.

October 15th, 2011, 12:07 PM
My mum has a T42 (spec identical or near identical to the original poster's), and she's currently running 11.04 just fine, albeit booting to the normal, non-Unity desktop. I wonder if Xubuntu would work a little faster for her, but she's used to what she's got so I'm loathe to change things round for her.

October 15th, 2011, 12:19 PM
I have done a lot of testing of various distros over the last few months on various configurations, T60, Virtualbox, Gateway Netbook, etc. As previously suggested, Ubuntu 11.04 (G2) seems very solid as does Lubuntu 11.04. I run lbuntu on my netbook and it is very speedy.

October 15th, 2011, 04:24 PM
After brief time with the default Ubuntu interface I was about ready to wipe off again and install (everything lagged like hell)... but then I realized I had the 2d option.

Now seems everything fine, just puzzled why the Canonical force Unity 3d on integrated video board like ATI Mobility Radeon 7500: this could bring bad reputation for those who aren't tech savvy

after all all they needed to "fix" this was to put a popup warn when Ubuntu is detected to run on not fully supported hardware (to make clear the problem isn't related to the distro.. but lack of support from hardware manufacturers like ati)

now testing further Unity 2D

November 18th, 2011, 12:19 AM
I'm running 11.10 on a T42. I was actually still using 8.04 LTS. I would have preferred an LTS release, but the installations kept failing. 11.10 installed fine, so that's what I'm using.

11.10 w/ Unity is OK but definitely slower, and needs a lot more RAM. 512MB was actually enough before but not now. 1GB is OK but 2GB+ would be better. The T42 will take 2GB.

I much prefer the previous Ubuntu/Gnome desktop, and not just because of the speed. Unity is cumbersome. Basic operations like switching apps or desktops are now 2-4 click-and-waits. Previously I could see everything that was open, and get there in one quick click or two. My productivity has dropped measurably, and even a faster machine wouldn't help. The new UI is less efficient for me, period.

I could use the classic Gnome desktop, but it's not as nice or as well integrated as the Ubuntu version was.

I haven't tried the latest versions of those other desktops. In the past I haven't found them any better. But Unity is slow enough that the difference now might be greater.

Bottom line? Might be time to buy a faster machine, unless you like those other desktops (I don't).

November 18th, 2011, 04:36 AM
Try Lubuntu 11.10

November 18th, 2011, 04:40 AM
im y=using lubuntu on a computer thats more than capable of running unity and i find it to be a very nicely put together ubuntu variant. i like it better than xfce

November 18th, 2011, 01:37 PM
I just recently purchased a T42p as a gift for a family member. I dual booted it xp and Super OS 10.10. I used that particular distro for a specific reason long distance tech support. She is in Fl. Im in Az. and that was what i was running. While she was in the hospital she inadvertently upgraded to 11.04. That caused untold complications until I figured out what she had done. ( another fine example of never assume.), once we changed the desk top back to Gnome all is good.

Zorin is another good choice.

Something i have found interesting is that the only thing i have been able to get unity to work on is laptops. I have run the 11.04 live disk on 3
laptops ranging from a 5-7 yr old HP nc8000, a ZT3000, an IBM t42p , and an asus EEE 1005 . but it wont run on my desk tops (3).

Another flavor that i liked but that didnt play well with my hardware is Bodhi.

November 18th, 2011, 09:35 PM
Xubuntu 11.10 would be my vote. It is easily light enough for that machine, and has most of the features you would expect from the main Ubuntu release.

Lubuntu would also be good, but I find Xubuntu has a lot more features and easy to configure.