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Thread: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

  1. #1
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    Question Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    Hi Guys,
    I have a PC from the dinosaur age: Pentium 4 i686 32 bit and 1 GB RAM. It runs Windows XP smoothly but I haven't dared to connect it to the internet in a long time as the OS is not supported and quite vulnerable. But now I need to connect it to the internet for the educational activities of my child.

    If possible, I want to install Ubuntu on it. Can anyone suggest to me the correct version of Ubuntu that can support this PC?

    I tried older versions of Puppy Linux but couldn't boot because of some kind of I/O error and I have been using Ubuntu for a long time on my main Laptop, so Ubuntu is my choice.

    All help is appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    The last version of any of the Ubuntu family for than machine would be Lubuntu 18.04 which is the last one that had a 32 bit OS available; unfortunately it will lose support in April this year so is not a very good option for you.

    32 bit systems are getting more difficult to deal with as 32 bit OSs disappear from use generally, but if you're prepared to give it a try, Debian 10 with the LXDE desktop, perhaps choosing openbox window-manager rather than LXDE at the login-screen, should run on that machine, though probably fairly slowly.

    You can download the iso file for the net install https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/b...86-netinst.iso which then lets you choose which DE and packages you want to use during installation; it's not a live system but it is very easy to manage if you have used Linux in any situation before so no reason to fear it.

    Debian is the basis of the Ubuntu OSs so much of what needs to be done to run the system is very like Ubuntu; it uses apt package management just the same and synaptic as the GUI package manager, which Ubuntu used to use by default as well, until the Ubuntu-Software application came along and replaced it by default in Ubuntu.

    There may be other distros which could be used as well but I am now out of touch with 32 bit systems; Distrowatch may be worth visiting for other suggestions.

  3. #3
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    Lubuntu 18.04 is the last release in the Ubuntu family with support for 32 bit, but only has 3 months of support left. The parts it has in common with Ubuntu will be supported until 2023. There are options outside the Ubuntu family.

    The I/O error you got on puppy may be caused by a hardware error. Not really surprising, given the age of that computer.

  4. #4
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    Have laptop with similar specs and Lubuntu 18.04 will run on it. It is the only laptop I have that will also boot up a Ubuntu 4.10. With the low specs, taking it easy on it is almost needed to keep it working, only two or three tabs open in a browser and usually only one program open at a time.

  5. #5
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    I suggest Puppy Linux

  6. #6
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by dkc.com View Post
    Hi Guys,
    I have a PC from the dinosaur age: Pentium 4 i686 32 bit and 1 GB RAM. It runs Windows XP smoothly but I haven't dared to connect it to the internet in a long time as the OS is not supported and quite vulnerable. But now I need to connect it to the internet for the educational activities of my child.
    It can still be used with extreme limitations and a very narrow choices of OS and even less of desktop environments and realistic expectations. For the educational activities of your child is NOT a realistic expectation. Please read this recent thread where a similar situation has been discussed, paying special attention to post #4 by DuckHook that describes an hands-on experience with similar hardware a few years ago, knowing that "modern OSes have just become even bigger and more resource intensive since": https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2457023

  7. #7
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    Lubuntu 18.04 should run well. 1 GB is marginal, but will work, unless you need to load huge documents. Forget Firefox if you need a browser, it's far too heavy. Opera will work well, but there are lots of other lightweight browsers out there.

  8. #8
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by ml9104 View Post
    Lubuntu 18.04 should run well.
    Not really.
    Please read the previous post and the linked thread. The point here is not installing a Linux distro and make it (barely) work, that's absolutely possible. The point here is the inadequacy for the intended purpose because the educational activities of the present include some video‑chatting and groupware‑like activities. It simply isn't realistic to think it'll work for that.

  9. #9
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    I found http://www.rollapp.com (remote desktop) in recent days and it seems a good option for some educational apps at reasonable price. It is not without its issues (some app versions are dated) but you can experiment with free account one app at a time before signing up for Premium. I am trying one month of Premium. This approach takes the pressure away from your old laptop since you just need a browser.

    [P.S.] Further thoughts ..
    1. You will need some cloud storage option to pass files between your PC and your rollapp session. I have setup Dropbox and I believe that this works on very old PC's.

    2. You can use local automation scripts to switch between app sessions, thus allowing multiple apps to be tried in free Starter mode. Premium mode at $7 per month does allow multiple sessions and data persistence.

    3. Another option is to try creating your own remote VM version. I am trying this workflow.
    Last edited by dragonfly41; January 25th, 2021 at 11:05 PM. Reason: further usage tips

  10. #10
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    Re: Which Ubuntu for Pentium 4 i686 PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by CelticWarrior View Post
    Not really.
    Please read the previous post and the linked thread. The point here is not installing a Linux distro and make it (barely) work, that's absolutely possible. The point here is the inadequacy for the intended purpose because the educational activities of the present include some video‑chatting and groupware‑like activities. It simply isn't realistic to think it'll work for that.
    How on earth would you know that video is involved here? There are other educational activities than "Corona offsite video teaching".

    But the OP mentions nothing like this.

    And my assertion that Lubuntu 18.04 will run well on limited HW stands. Been there, tried that.
    Last edited by ml9104; January 25th, 2021 at 11:26 PM.

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