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Thread: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

  1. #1
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    May 2011
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    Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    Okay let me just start things out with a quick introduction. I have never used Linux before, I use Windows on my main computer because I'm too lazy to make every game run in WINE with performance hits... My laptop uses OS X because I just like it better, personal preference. But that's not the issue.

    My sister got a old mac mini (2006-7) for basically free at a garage sale and it has the über specs of 512MB ram with a 1.66 GHz intel core Duo processor. (makes me feel old, really) and OS X 10.4.11 is just WAY too slow on that. It gets a spinning beach-ball when she tries to boot up Firefox 3.6 (haven't gotten firefox 4 on it yet since I'm planning to put Linux on it) and trying to use gimp to mess around with images is, frankly, a nightmare for her.

    So the question is. What Linux distro should I use on this computer? Something light light weight that can:

    1) Remove 90% of the over-head so she can browse fast
    2) Would be nice if she could run GIMP on it too
    3) [optional] A way to sync iPod to the computer so she can keep managing her music from linux without having to do it in OS X. Not sure if this is possible without a lot of terminal stuff...

    I'm a "nerd" but not a Linux nerd. I know more about Windows 7 and OS X than I know about my friends and I'm not afraid to go deep DEEEP into the terminal with a good set of instructions but I still don't know basic linux stuff like compiling apps together, so anything with the least amount of effort on my part terminal wise would be preferable.

    I was thinking about Distros such as Lubuntu, Puppy Linux, SilTaz, ect. But this needs to be dead simple for my sister to use from a GUI standpoint. e.g. click here = internet. click that = gimp. click this = file browser. Drag this file to dropbox = can access it on windows 7 so I can print it.
    Last edited by thang1thang2; May 22nd, 2011 at 05:56 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    I'm a huge fan of *buntu, and have been using it for some time as my primary OS of choice.

    That being said, you're best off sticking with OS X, because the simplicity and feature set (especially the iPod, and network file transfer), not to mention the "just works" factor will probably never be matched in *buntu. Particularly in distros with lighter weight desktops and software packages. I recommend grabbing a copy of Snow Leopard, adding some memory, and sleep easy.

  3. #3
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    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    The whole point of using •Buntu is that I don't have to add memory. And putting Snow Leopard on a computer with a 1.66 GHz CPU is like asking for suicide, even if I had 4 GB of ram on it it would be nearly unusable. It's much easier to just partition 10 GB of storage space, install a •buntu and let her use it for almost everything.

    That being said, you have any suggestions for a super light-overhead easy to use distro?

  4. #4
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    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by thang1thang2 View Post
    The whole point of using •Buntu is that I don't have to add memory. And putting Snow Leopard on a computer with a 1.66 GHz CPU is like asking for suicide, even if I had 4 GB of ram on it it would be nearly unusable. It's much easier to just partition 10 GB of storage space, install a •buntu and let her use it for almost everything.

    That being said, you have any suggestions for a super light-overhead easy to use distro?
    It isn't going to be easy enough, period. I've been down this path with family members as well and in the end I just gave up and went with Windows XP (wasn't a Mac in that case) because the usability for things like a drop box, or iPod syncing is just non-existent. Sure it'll browse the web, and run Gimp (sort of - not really enough memory), but making everything work flawlessly day in day out, especially on a Mac will have you banging your head on a wall.

    I like Lubuntu, which will actually be an official *buntu on the next release IIRC. It seems to be ~150MB of memory vs ~260 for the bigger distros. It also comes without some components that you will definitely find cripples usability if you aren't willing to dig in a bit.

    I still dual boot Windows on one of my machines for use with iTunes and any other software that either won't work in Wine or has no equivalent. Dual booting doesn't really seem like a very sister friendly way to go to me though...
    Last edited by Jarm1; May 22nd, 2011 at 06:41 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    She's not a moron she just doesn't know more than she "has" to. So dual-booting is just fine once I could set it up. to work pretty much flawlessly with just those three things. I mean, once it works ONCE and she doesn't do anything to it, it should keep working the exact same way until something updates. Right?

  6. #6
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    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    Use OS X for the iPod, try to set up Lubuntu to do all the other stuff and hope the constant updates don't break some function.

    Good luck, but I'm telling you, it's not worth the effort.

  7. #7
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    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    If it gets me my desktop back and my sister becomes happy it's worth the effort. I'll do it during summer break when I start polyphasic sleep patterns and I have craptons of time to waste trying to keep myself awake. Hopefully pounding my head against the wall in frustration won't knock me out, though.

  8. #8
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    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    Given you're not au fait with Linux / Ubuntu, it may be a little tricky for you to support your sister's installation. I presume you live in the same house? If not - this could mean a lot of travel to resolve teething issues for you.

    Nevertheless - you seem pretty keen to give it a go.

    I would suggest any Ubuntu-based distro, merely for the support available from these forums. Lubuntu is a reasonable choice. I believe wattOS also uses Ubuntu / LXDE. (Note - I haven't tried either, but have used Ubuntu + LXDE as a minimal install).

    Most older generation ipods should work with (L)ubuntu. Consider using Guayadeque - it is supposed to work with ipods now... http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/03/r...ght-music-app/

    Good luck with this project. And yes - if she only wants to do 3 things with her computer, then this should work. But it's very easy to get carried away trying new things when you get a computer....

  9. #9
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    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by ugm6hr View Post
    Given you're not au fait with Linux / Ubuntu, it may be a little tricky for you to support your sister's installation. I presume you live in the same house? If not - this could mean a lot of travel to resolve teething issues for you.

    Nevertheless - you seem pretty keen to give it a go.

    I would suggest any Ubuntu-based distro, merely for the support available from these forums. Lubuntu is a reasonable choice. I believe wattOS also uses Ubuntu / LXDE. (Note - I haven't tried either, but have used Ubuntu + LXDE as a minimal install).

    Most older generation ipods should work with (L)ubuntu. Consider using Guayadeque - it is supposed to work with ipods now... http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/03/r...ght-music-app/

    Good luck with this project. And yes - if she only wants to do 3 things with her computer, then this should work. But it's very easy to get carried away trying new things when you get a computer....
    Oh I know how easy it is to get carried away on a computer *sigh* oh well. Just have to contain my excitement.
    Yes, we live in the same house. She's 11 and I'm 15 so we'll be in the same house for a while, long enough for that computer to become obsolete and for her to inherit my brother's laptop.

    I think I'm going to go with Lubuntu since it seems to have pretty sweet compatibility with everything and a light system overhead (it's not 30mb but anything below 512mb ram now-a-days is ultra-light really)

    Only two weeks until I get to try this out
    Oh, and thanks a bunch for the Guayadeque link, I'll have to try it out once I get everything rolling. If not, it shouldn't be too hard to get her used to dual-booting (or "heaven forbid" use Windows to manage the iPod)

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Which Linux Distro should I use on OLD computer?

    Good luck.
    When you get started - feel free to drop by again here if you need help.
    Also - make sure you ask back here re: ipod - there are plenty of options... although the commonest are not "lightweight"
    I think this shouldn't cause you any problems at all if she's your sister - just offer to install any printers etc for her.

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