What lightweight Linux distribution do you suggest for old Pentium 4 PC with 256MB RAM?

Rajaa Chowdhury September 2, 2012
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I have a very old PC lying around (but in working condition). It is a Pentium 4 3GHz, 256MB DDR RAM and with 80GB HDD. I am thinking of re-formatting it and installing a free distribution of Linux to make this PC productive again. Ubuntu is out of question, as it cannot support this configuration (I guess it expects 1GB RAM). I was thinking of Bodhi Linux. Is there any other Linux distribution you can suggest for my PC?

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  1. Anonymous
    February 26, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I really like Puppy linux, comes with lots of apps, adobe flash and has great support for older hardware. Grab a usb stick and give one of the different versions a try. Wary is better suited for older hardware. Modern browsers like Chromium, Firefox and Opera use lots of ram, especially if you install and use Flash. If you like Puppy on USB, give it an install and take advantage of having a Swap partition. Do a little research and find a light weight browser to accompany Puppy Linux. Good luck, woof!

  2. Gaurav Joshi
    February 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    lubuntu or peppermint are lightest distributions to install on your pc
    Peppermint OS http://peppermintos.com/
    Lubuntu http://lubuntu.net/

  3. jonesy
    December 28, 2012 at 1:20 am

    I'm trying out slax on a 1.5GHz P4 512MB right now, I think it's worth a look. (I don't know the laptop's manufacturer - labels worn off)

    Had Bodhi on it, worked OK, lots of customization available, but this laptop will be for a total computer noob to use for Facebook and email, maybe some YouTube, and I need to put a relatively fast and very friendly OS on it.

    I will also look a #!, joli OS, wattoOS. Had Ubuntu 12.04 on it, worked, but _slowly_.

  4. Rohit Pandey
    December 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm
  5. dragonmouth
    September 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I have a P4 2.0 ghz, 512 meg PC. I can run any Linux distro on it that I want. In fact I use it as my Linux test PC. So far, (after about 100 distros) I have not found one distro that will not run on this PC. Granted, they may not run blazingly fast, but they all run acceptably. So there is no need to limit oneself to DSL, Puppy, Bodhi and other emasculated distros.

    • JIm
      October 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      Antix is the one to go for, It ran no problem om all the old computers I tried, whereas the usual puppy,dsl, siltaz excreta bombed out.

    • JIm
      October 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      sorry that was supposed to be etcetera lol

  6. elhaj
    September 25, 2012 at 3:33 am

    there is already a good collection of choices, just like to add
    Linux Mint 13 xfce edition
    and Linux Mint Debian (LMDE)

  7. Rico Chamorro
    September 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    If you look what happened when the iPad 2 came out the original iPad dropped in Retail price as well as the used price. It will depend how accessible the iPhone 5 is once it is released. I would have thought there would be high demand so I feel the iPhone 4 price will not drop until there is plenty of stock available for the iPhone 5.
    The original iPad dropped by about 40% in price so lets hope the iPhone 4 does the same

  8. Nick Tamias
    September 14, 2012 at 6:12 am

    I would go for a basic Debian Testing installation(without graphical environment).
    Then you can install only the absolute basics and a lightweight desktop manager. I would recommend LXDE.

  9. VictorGeis
    September 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I've always liked using Xfce for breathing in new life to an older computer.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      September 5, 2012 at 11:11 am

      But is Xfce a GUI desktop environment or a OS

      • gpvprasad
        September 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

        xfce is desktop manager.

  10. Kannon Y
    September 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I would normally suggest using a Live Disk of Puppy Linux, but in case you have a number of older machines that you'd like to get working properly, you can pick up full retail copies of XP for around $60.

    It's a pretty good deal if you consider that it's going to be supported until 2014 and you can install it on multiple machines. Unlike OEM copies, it can be resold, IIRC.

    Anyway, the i686 version (for P4s) of PuppyLinux can be downloaded here.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      September 3, 2012 at 2:37 am

      Dude I already own a licensed version of XP for that PC. Came along-with that CompaQ PC - OEM version. I use Windows 7 64Bit now, so not really interested in the younger brother so checking out on some cousins. :P

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      September 3, 2012 at 2:41 am

      Thanks all for the valuable suggestion. I decided to upgrade the RAM to 2GB (checked, the motherboard supports it however the DDR RAM is costing a bomb, around $90) and decided to go the Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS way. :)

  11. Tudor Rusu
    September 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Damn Small Linux is in my opinion the best in this situation. Works great and it's light!

    • gpvprasad
      September 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      To Upgrade Damn small Linux takes a long time

  12. M H Bell
    September 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    I wrote an article on 3 Linux distros for older computers. One of them was Watt Linux OS. The one I finally choose. I also tried Bodhi. Both of them work well. Here is a link to the article: http://melpctec.blogspot.com/2012/04/alternative-os-for-older-computers-part_06.html

  13. Justin Pot
    September 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    DSL and Puppy are both super-light. If you want to try something more user-oriented, however. you could try Lubuntu:

    http://lubuntu.net/

    Alternatively, there's Peppermint. Reviewing it right now; it's sort of cool:

    http://peppermintos.com/

    Not as light as Puppy or DSL but easier in some ways. Options are good, right?

  14. Sebastian Hadinata
    September 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    What about xubuntu or lubuntu? both uses lightweight desktop environment. xubuntu requires minimum of 256mb RAM while lubuntu requires 128mb RAM. Give it a try.

    Xubuntu: http://xubuntu.org/getxubuntu/
    Lubuntu:http://lubuntu.net/

    or try Crunchbang Linux, it is based on Debian: http://crunchbanglinux.org/

    • gpvprasad
      September 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      I would still love lubuntu.

  15. Bruce Epper
    September 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

    DSL or Puppy would work. I have used them on utterly ancient laptops with older and slower processors. If it was my system, I would install more RAM in any case just so I could have a more responsive system and I would also take a good look at the video card installed (or chipset on the motherboard) to make sure I've got enough power to handle a decent GUI.

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