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We've got an old computer at home which has really been left unused for a few years. It was the 'family computer' for a few years, and it is absolutely clogged down with programs, and runs so slowly it is almost useless - I'm sure you know the type. I think we got it new in 2004, and from memory, the specs are:

512 mb RAM

40 GB harddrive

2.0 GHz processor

I'll have to double check about the graphics card, but I'm pretty sure it's less than 128 MB

Anyway, a friend recommended Ubuntu to give this old computer a new lease on life, but I just wanted to ask here if there's anything I ought to know before going ahead with this. In particular, should I use an older version of Ubuntu, or possibly XUbuntu (which I've seen people talk about here), as for me quick response is far more important than flashy icons that may lag when you click them.

I'd rather not spend any more money on hardware. As I say, this computer is effectively unused today, and if we could just restore it for lag-less web browsing and word processing I think we'd call this a success.

Thanks for your help!

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OK, well maybe lagless web-browsing + word processing + LaTeX + sagemath, but you get the idea :) –  Thomas Moore Jan 30 '12 at 23:37
    
Can I refer to non-Ubuntu? Hope so... Gentoo is suited for this... you compile exactly what works with your machine... gentoo.org –  user8290 Jan 30 '12 at 23:46
    
Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! Question like this that are open ended should be posted in the Ubuntu Forums, please see the FAQ for what is ontopic here, thanks! –  Jorge Castro Jan 31 '12 at 0:03

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Based upon your specifications, Xubuntu will be a better fit since the minimum requirement is 256Mb RAM.

RAM is the key - your processor is fine to run any version of Ubuntu.

If you can invest in some more RAM then Unity 2D will work for you. If you have a 3D Accelerated graphics card then you could also use Unity-3D or Gnome-Shell.

Xubuntu has a great compositor built-in - so you can get fairly good visual effects without the "lag". Since this is a "family" computer - I presume you previously have had MS Windows installed. You'll find the Xubuntu interface fairly similar - a panel based desktop with a "start" button and icons for open windows on the panel.

enter image description here

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Thanks, I'll give this a try, and then possibly go to Lubuntu if this is too slow. BTW, as I'm (very) new to Linux, I'm wondering how easy it is to change between these different distributions. I mean, how easy would it be to transfer from Xubuntu to Ubuntu or Lubuntu (depending on the performance we get), moving across saved files, etc? Thanks! –  Thomas Moore Jan 31 '12 at 10:18
    
Very easy... and you can equally login to any session via the login window. This Q&A will help you: askubuntu.com/questions/44062/how-do-i-install-lxde-lubuntu –  fossfreedom Jan 31 '12 at 10:24
    
That makes sense, thanks –  Thomas Moore Jan 31 '12 at 23:58

From your specs I think Lubuntu, Xubuntu or maybe an older version of Ubuntu (like 9.10) would work well.

But if your serious about speed you might consider Puppy Linux which can load its self on to your RAM for really fast running on old computers. It also takes up only 256 MB of disk space with OpenOffice.

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I believe a perfect solution for your needs would be Lubuntu, which is a light version of Ubuntu. Im successfuly running this distro on a similiar configuration and never had any problems. Main difference between Ubuntu is that it contains LXDE, very fast and light window manager and its actually installed by default. Have a look there:

lubuntu.net

Lubuntu is a part of Ubuntu family which means you still have access to apt and all the Ubuntu applications and all the updates. It was rebuilt/designed to allow you to install Ubuntu on low-end computers. You may find some additional information here:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lubuntu

It says there that minimum system requirement is Pentium II or Celeron system with 128 MB of RAM, but with that amount of memory you may encounter some slowdowns. Since you declared much higher amount- this solution is all you need.

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