Xubuntu Is A Good Choice For Trying Linux On A Retired Computer

Discussion in 'Linux OS and Software Assistance' started by Computer Hobbyist, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. Computer Hobbyist

    Computer Hobbyist

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    Today was a cold snowy winter Sunday. The Super Bowl is past. March madness is in the future. To pass the time I loaded Xubuntu 7.10 on old 600 Mhz Pentium III server with 328 mg of memory, a couple of 20 gig hard drives, a CD-Rom and a sound card scavenged from my parts bin. I know, it sounds like a waste of time, but there is a method in my madness. I can use my regular machine to surf the web looking for answers when I screw something up.

    As part of my experiment I earlier installed PC-BSD 1.4. It puked on KDE. Off it came, leading directly to Xubuntu.

    Xubuntu has breathed life in the old beast. The Xfce desktop is much, much lighter than either Gnome or KDE. The old machine seems to have everything I need in a backup computer.

    Of course, a 1999 model 600 Mhz Pentium III server will easily run Linux but it will never display Flash videos with any grace. I would need at least 1 Ghz processor or a better video card (probably both) to run flash video properly, 2 Ghz would be better. With Xubuntu the machine is more than satisfactory as a backup. It will surf the web, handle backups and generally fit nicely on the home network. If you want to use an old machine to learn Linux, you really should give Xubuntu a try.

    My next planned experiment is to install FreeBSD from scratch. As quickly as this generation of Linux is inducing boredom (a good thing), the next snowy day it might go the old machine, but I will install the Xfce desktop unless someone can recommend something better.

    As to Linux Mint 4.0 and Ubuntu 7.10 running on separate partitions on my main computer, I find that after some recent upgrades to Firefox I prefer Ubuntu. On balance, if you want a Linux distro that does almost everything out of the box, Linux Mint is a very good choice. Of course, since Linux Mint is a Ubuntu derivative, there isn't much difference.
     
  2. shadowpr

    shadowpr I like me

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    So would you say that given the same system specs, that xubuntu would perform quicker since it is less demanding on resources?

    I only ask cause I'm planning on using it for my new rig this week.

    Side note: What firefox upgrades are you refering to?
     
  3. Computer Hobbyist

    Computer Hobbyist

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    Xubuntu 7.10 uses the same Linux kernel and other system files as Ubuntu and Linux Mint, which my old 600 Mhz Pentium III can easily handle.

    The problem most people encounter when using Linux on older equipment is related to the Desktop. Most distros use either Gnome or KDE. Both are resource hogs. I really think that a lot of people disappointed with Linux install the latest and greatest version on an old machine only to complain about how slow things seem.

    Xfce's Desktop Environment is much lighter. It handles all the normal Windows placement issues, provides panel launchers, a desktop manager, file management, (thunar is fast file manager), session management and various utilities, just like the big boys, but it is much lighter. You do give up some of bells and whistles associated with Gnome and KDE. For what I am doing that is no big loss.

    Except for Firefox (which I think is a bit of a hog) Xubuntu has also selected and installs lighter applications. For example it doesn't install the entire Open Office suite, opting to install only the word processor.

    For a full flavor of what Linux can do install the latest Linux Mint on a late model PC. If you want to get another few years out of an old Windows 2000 machine try Xubuntu or one of the other distros using Xfce.

    I don't know for sure what the upgrade was about, but I was recently notified by the update manager that I had new updates. Several related to Firefox. I installed the updates like a good little user and suddenly my problems with Firefox in Ubuntu were cured. It could be that my problems were installation specific all along. I wish I knew.
     
  4. shadowpr

    shadowpr I like me

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    Thanks for clarifying that.

    I already dual boot with Linux Mint on the computer, but will be setting up another computer later this week, and just need really basic function on it. Sounds like xubuntu might be perfect. Ia already have it burned to CD ready to go.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. kilgoretrout

    kilgoretrout

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    There are many linux distros specifically designed for older hardware. The fastest ones I've tried are based off of slackware, namely, xenwalk and Vector Linux both of which use xfce. You may want to give them a try on your older hardware. I think you will find they perform better than xubuntu but they have a more limited package selection. Also, if you start installing and running a lot of heavy duty gnome and kde apps to these distros they start to slow down considerably to the point where you may as well be running kde or gnome. At least that's what I've noticed on my PIII 500MHz with 384MB of ram.

    I have also been unhappy with the firefox performance on this type of hardware. After doing some careful monitoring, I believe the problem is more the limited cpu than the ram. With the Adblock Plus extension running on firefox, cpu utilization routinely went to 100% when changing web pages. Removing Adblock Plus resulted in cpu utilization dropping to normal levels but then you get the adds. Apparently searching that block list database is pretty cpu instensive. Opera was a little better but you run into similar problems when using add blocking software in opera.
     

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