This is going to be. hopefully,
a few weeks one week long experience of running Lubuntu 12.04 on an old computer. The machine in question is a Pentium 4 with 640MB of PC133 RAM and Radeon 9200se graphics. I don't know how old the beast is, but the lack of an integrated ethernet port and USB1 only, as well as the rest of the hardware, suggest it could be a decade old, or thereabout.
I first tried installing Lubuntu 12.04 on an even older Pentium 3 with 384MB of RAM, which didn't work. The installer window would close when copying files, even with a pre-made swap partition.
The installation on the Pentium 4 was fast and uneventful. I've chosen the simplest partition layout: about 79300MB for root and 700 for swap.
Lubuntu runs very well. It's not memory hungry, so that there is enough RAM left to run applications. 112MB of RAM is what's used to boot.
The default combination of grey and blue is depressing. That might be due to the old CRT monitor, but I like more color and contrast, and changed the theme, the icons and the wallpaper right away.
First and foremost, stability seems to be an issue. I get frequent crashes of the notification daemon, lxpanel, lxkeymap, gnome-mplayer, ...and dutifully send crash reports. Is it because Lubuntu 12.04 is not an LTS, or is that why it's not an LTS?
The default web browser is an outdated Chromium 18, even after installing all available updates. Google Chrome 19 has been released a few weeks back, and has been updated once already. There seems to be no sign of an update for Chromium.
This is more serious then I thought. The problem was first noticed in February, and is still unresolved. Here is the explanation by Micah Gersten, the maintainer of Chromium: http://askubuntu.com/a/105487
Mplayer (Gnome-Mplayer) doesn't work at all, no matter what I try playing. There seems to be a compilation problem.
Bug report: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...r2/+bug/976465
Mplayer2 is, apparently a fork of mplayer with improvements. Purging mplayer2 and gnome-mplayer, and then installing mplayer and gnome-mplayer made everything work. The browser plugin, gecko-mediaplayer gets removed in the process, and needs to be reinstalled as well.
One way to get codex is to install the lubuntu-restricted-extras package. That would give you a lot of stuff apart from codecs, for example, Adobe Flash, unrar, MS fonts, etc. I didn't want any of that, so instead, I've only installed the Bad, the Ugly and FFMPEG gstreamer plugins:
That's done by appending a line to the .bashrc. Mine looks like this: setxkbmap -option grp:alt_shift_toggle "us,il,ru". Reload with "source .bashrc", and it starts working immediately. The layout switcher applet can be added to the panel by right clicking, "Add/Remove panel items", "Keyboard Layout Switcher".
That was just the matter of installing samba, uncommenting a few lines in the config file, and then reloading smbd. I've used this for reference: http://mostlylinux.wordpress.com/network/samba/.
There are quite a few of them pre-defined in .config/openbox/lubuntu-rc.xml.
alt+f1 opens the menu
ctrl+alt+d opens the file browser
Super+d minimizes all windows
ctrl+alt+del brings up the task manager
ctrl+alt+l locks the screen
alt+PrintSCRN takes a screenshot
There was not shortcut to launch the web browser (possibly because Chromium got removed), so I've added the following to .config/openbox/lubuntu-rc.xml:
openbox --reconfigure to reload
<!-- Launch a Web Browser on Super + W-->
OpenBox is the window manager in Lubuntu. It's one of the lightest I've used, eating up the ridiculous 8MB of RAM and hardly any CPU cycles. It's very fast, very cool, and stable too. It doesn't have rounded corners, 3d transition effects, or transparency, but it gets the job done, which is perfect for an old computer.
Suspending and Hibernating
Suspending works like a Swiss clock, but hibernating leaves the pci wireless card unusable.
Radeon 9200se is an entry level graphics card from 2003. It is no longer supported buy AMD, but the default open source driver does a decent job. Glxgears shows 75FPS, and there haven't been any xserver crashes or lockups. Both LXDE and OpenBox are gaming friendly, and I've been playing WarZone for a considerable part of the day.
Well, I rather liked Lubuntu. It's an old school distro with config files for editing the menu or keyboard shortcuts, but it's lean and fast. It would have been a perfect fit for this old machine for the next five years, if only it had been more stable and had a longer support cycle. As is, it feels a beta that needs a liitle more time to mature.
(Note: Lubuntu 12.04 is not an LTS. It's a regular release with 18 months of support.)