Old laptop /Linux question

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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Blzut3 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:58 pm

Rachael wrote:Furthermore, it is a kind of system that would probably benefit from using 32-bit rather than 64-bit. But the processor sounds like it can support both, so you can try both of them and see which one runs better for you. In my experience running Linux on old systems - just because it supports 64-bit doesn't mean it works best with 64-bit. You really have to try both and see which work better.

32-bit Linux is basically dead at this point. The upcoming Ubuntu 20.04 now only maintains packages for running 32-bit software on 64-bit. I believe Fedora is doing the same. Right now running 32-bit Linux is like running 32-bit Windows 10. It exists, but you're best off pretending it doesn't.

With that out of the way, if the laptop is capable of running 64-bit Linux with Xfce or LXDE it should work fine. KDE would likely run fine as well. Distros like Ubuntu should still have an easy way to install the nvidia legacy driver for that GPU. It should have enough memory for a strictly development machine and using a web browser for documentation. The Core 2 will definitely feel slow compared to modern CPUs, but it's usable. Generally speaking it's similar spec to my Thinkpad T61 and I ran Kubuntu on there up to about 16.04. Can't say it was limiting what I could do, but my Broadwell based laptop easily runs circles around it.

If you are going to find another machine I would highly recommend either an AMD or Intel GPU. Nvidia's Linux drivers are acceptable, but notably degraded experience compared to the open source drivers from AMD and Intel. Optimally you want an GCN 2nd gen or newer AMD since that's the driver that gets the most attention.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Marisa Kirisame » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:19 am

If a system is 64-bit capable, always go for a 64-bit OS. Do not listen to those who say "there's no need for it if you have less than 4GB of RAM", that's a load of nonsense. The myth that everything is "double the size" is dumb, too. There are benefits since you are using the full x86_64 set of instructions, which will result in higher performance, and hell, in some cases, smaller programs.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Rachael » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:38 am

That sounds good on paper, but my experience has been the opposite in many cases. Particularly with pre-2010 hardware. Sorry - but I have tried both, and sometimes 32-bit does perform better on dinosaur systems. Like everything, it's all nuanced and complex and nothing is black and white here - that's why you just have to try it and see what happens.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Graf Zahl » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:47 am

Yes, but this certainly isn't that kind of a dinosaur. Back in 2008 this was a top of the line system that had cost by employer of that time quite a bit of money - the CPU is roughly half as fast as my current desktop. All those cheap-ass Celeron systems from 2011 and on are quite less performant and they all came with 64 bit Windows.

And no, I wouldn't even think about installing a 32 bit system on it. That'd totally kill the primary use case I intend it for.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Cacodemon345 » Tue Jan 14, 2020 5:04 am

I actually would say this, that laptop is way better than my older 2007 desktop that only had 1GB of RAM, Pentium Dual-Core and a crappy Intel GMA 3100.

I still would suggest installing Lubuntu on it though. Xubuntu is also a good choice. And definitely use the 64-bit version.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Redneckerz » Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:05 am

One could look at Elive. (Enlightment)

And for browsers Waterfox.

Graf's setup definitely isn't too old or outdated but you have to think a little outside the box. But once that's there, its still equally competent (and fast) as any other rig.

Unless you have a Netbook. Never go with that. :P (I have one with Windows 7 Starter, its to the point it hardly even runs. My vision for it is to just slap a very lightweight Linux on it and have it be my portable writing/editing environment.)
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Graf Zahl » Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:19 am

I'm not too sure I want to install some specialty Linux distro on this. For one of the use cases, i.e. having a computer to take with me when going on vacation, anything running a browser should suffice - but I also want to use this as a development machine, and not be stuck with software that may not do the job as expected.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby drfrag » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:13 am

I think those lightweight desktops would give you a subpar experience, i tried once and then i had to install a full fledged one.
I'm not sure about KDE, i used it in the past but now with that Plasma thing it's heavier than before so i switched to MATE which is less resource hungry AFAIK.
So i'd suggest Ubuntu MATE 19.10 64 bit. It's a Core2 sure but it runs @3GHz so it's not that slow.
You should check temps as it could be necessary to change thermal paste (and use a decent one) for both CPU and GPU or it could be extremely slow and there's even risk of hardware damage. Then there's the Git GUI, i use SmartGit but it's not nearly as good as TortoiseGit. It's the best i've found IMO.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Redneckerz » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:23 am

Graf Zahl wrote:I'm not too sure I want to install some specialty Linux distro on this. For one of the use cases, i.e. having a computer to take with me when going on vacation, anything running a browser should suffice - but I also want to use this as a development machine, and not be stuck with software that may not do the job as expected.

Elive is not a special distro, it is based on Debian. The reason i plug this is because it has some enhance rather unique to it. There are a few other distros that have their own unique stuff like window managers and all - But Elive is optimized for older computers.

Elive homepage

Alternatively, Puppy has a lot of legacy support which is just what your computer could need.

If that is beyond the adjustment par, an Ubuntu based distro might be more to your likening. Or something that runs more in-browser as opposed to everything else (like a Kiosk distro).

To the other end, i could point to something like Slitaz - Which is basically just a graphical shell, some dev stuff and a browser.

And if you want to do it yourself, then there is Tiny Core.

The options are endless, but you have to consider for yourself:
- How much effort you want to push
- How feature-filled it has to be
- Whether it should be ultra-small on resources (like Tiny Core) or can be a bit more

Personally, hearing your requirements, i definitely would give Elive a try - It seems made for that, and Puppy as a smaller (50 MB) alternative.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby Rachael » Tue Jan 14, 2020 7:51 am

Graf Zahl wrote:I'm not too sure I want to install some specialty Linux distro on this. For one of the use cases, i.e. having a computer to take with me when going on vacation, anything running a browser should suffice - but I also want to use this as a development machine, and not be stuck with software that may not do the job as expected.

You really don't have to worry about that.

Lubuntu has all packages available from all the other Ubuntu distros, and if all you're doing is web browsing and running a compiler, it's more than sufficient for your needs. And if you do decide later on "I want to try out Xubuntu desktop, or Ubuntu MATE" there are super-packages available that will install the complete desktops for you on top of your Linux install (harmlessly, it's all pretty modularized) and you can just select it from your login screen.

drfrag wrote:I think those lightweight desktops would give you a subpar experience, i tried once and then i had to install a full fledged one.
I'm not sure about KDE, i used it in the past but now with that Plasma thing it's heavier than before so i switched to MATE which is less resource hungry AFAIK.
So i'd suggest Ubuntu MATE 19.10 64 bit. It's a Core2 sure but it runs @3GHz so it's not that slow.


I'm sorry but I still have to disagree with you here, drfrag. You are used to running old tech so you are going to be okay with your computer running slower. And this is something that repeatedly in this thread you have failed to understand. What runs acceptably for you is not the same for everyone else, especially those who typically use newer and faster systems. The level of frustration can get much higher when you're coming to it from a more modern system.

Ubuntu MATE would work well on a more mid-tier system, circa 2013-2016 or so. But it is a resource hog, and it eats up RAM pretty quick. Even the base system in my experience has never been less than 1.5 gig or so, and when running a web browser on top of that there isn't much left for games (including those in development) or other things, and you'll start seeing system thrashing and frame rate skips.

So, sorry, I don't think MATE is going to work well for him. If he had at least around 6 gb of RAM or so as a safety net, sure, but I think the main goal here is to get him run solidly first, before worrying about the desktop "experience".

Also for what it's worth, I use Xubuntu as a daily driver. It's not as lightweight as Lubuntu, but it's loads lighter than MATE, and also way more usable. And it has tons of options to change your desktop to be just the way you like it - but the only drawback is, you gotta get used to how the panels work and what you can put on them. After you have it all set up though, it's really quite usable.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby drfrag » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:03 am

Rachael wrote:You are used to running old tech so you are going to be okay with your computer running slower.

Let's agree to disagree then. :P
Of course i'm not, my main laptop is from 2018 albeit lowend and win10 is more or less okay (sometimes it runs like shit when windows defender kicks in). Mint MATE runs much better on my 32 bit machine with 2 GB but it's just the 32 bit version and not the latest. I don't play games there just check that the engine runs. I know main Ubuntu runs like shit with 4 GB (may be MATE too now) and i adviced to try a live distribution first. But i'm using regular HDDs with a SSD the experience should be much better.
A light web browser would help a lot too.
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Re: Old laptop /Linux question

Postby MartinHowe » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:48 pm

@Graf Zahl:

I had a similar but lower specced laptop years ago that would run Windows 10 64 Bit at a reasonable speed, but of course it had a 'toaster' Intel GPU which is why I got rid of it and the only reason I got rid of it. Same goes for a 2012 Fujitsu Lifebook T730. Your's has the advantage of a half decent laptop GPU. I have also had a fair amount of experience, both personal and professional, at running Linux on old systems.

Bottom line: unless they've severely upped the requirements, I would normally run Xubuntu on a system like that. Lubuntu if the laptop struggles with it.
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