What version of Ubuntu can I run on an old desktop? Also, can I revert to old style navigation in 11.10?

I have a P4 3ghz 1 gb ram 160 gb HDD graphics: VESA: 6330

I installed 11.10, but it is slow.

  • Lubuntu, what old navigation do you mean? – Uri Herrera Jan 7 '12 at 4:51

I recommend Lubuntu. It uses LXDE (Light X11 Desktop Environment) on top of Ubuntu, meaning you still have the latest software provided by Ubuntu, but it will be very snappy on a Pentium 4 (it'll even run on a Pentium 3). If you do install Lubuntu, I'd recommend installing GParted for whenever you'd like to format pendrives, otherwise it pretty much includes all the features most users need. I've ran Lubuntu in previous versions (Lubuntu 11.04, 11.10) and can certainly vouch for it. I don't think I could recommend anything else unless you want to try Puppy Linux or Damn Small Linux, though they may not offer all the features of the Ubuntu distribution.

You could install Gnome Classic desktop by entering the following command in the terminal: sudo apt-get install gnome-fallback-session, then log out, click on the button next to the username/password and select Gnome Classic. It still won't be nearly as fast as Lubuntu. Gnome Classic wasn't included in Ubuntu 11.10 because it falls back on Unity 2D if 3D acceleration isn't supported by the hardware.

  • Personally I'd go with Debian (or even Emdebian) before I went with Puppy or DS — I've squeezed more onto a single board computer with Emdebian than I could have with Puppy. But that's straying from the original question. – detly Jan 7 '12 at 5:54
  • @detly: Emdebian doesn't seem to be very beginner-friendly. I've tried Linux Mint Debian Edition and I found Debian to be just as light as Ubuntu with the same desktop environment (though the Mint software center is much faster than its Ubuntu counterpart in Oneiric). – titaniumtux Jan 7 '12 at 17:17
  • 1
    It depends greatly on proficiency, sure. But while a default install of Debian for a desktop would be about the same as Ubuntu, I've always gone the other way — installing the base Debian system, and gradually building up only the system I need for a particular PC. It can be more time consuming, but invariably leads to a smaller footprint. – detly Jan 8 '12 at 4:17

I recommend either Lubuntu or Xubuntu. Xubuntu is a little more flexible and a lot of people supposedly went to Xubuntu because of Gnome Shell, Unity and what ever else they didn't like with 11.04 and 11.10. Xubuntu can be customized to look and work like Gnome 2. Xubuntu can be installed via terminal by entering sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude install xubuntu-desktop or you can do a clean install by going to Xubuntu's home site. I had better luck with a clean install but that is me personally. After installing open the Ubuntu Software Center and install Xubuntu restricted extras.

If you decide with Lubuntu, you can upgrade the same way.

Per you question, you will be running Ubuntu 11.10.


To give you an idea of how Ubuntu will run on an old PC:

I have a Dell Dimension e310. I upgraded the ram to 2GB. It has a P4 521 Ht 2.8ghz. I had Ubuntu 10.04 LTS but it recently lost support, so I was forced to make a decision. I could either download and install Lubuntu or another stable, lightweight, release. I loved Ubuntu 10.04. I decided to upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04.

I am currently running it, and I love it. It runs perfectly. I would not recommend Ubuntu 13.04 or later. Also,Ubuntu 12.04 is long term release. I believe it is supported until 2016 or 2017. Not really sure. But if you want to have a lot of speed and productivity then I would strongly recommend Lubuntu. But Ubuntu 12.04 is very responsive and fast on this old hardware. I would check to see if you can upgrade the ram on your particular computer. 2 GB of memory works perfect for me but if you can go up to 4 and have the money then do it.

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