Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is the best version of Linux?

  1. Dec 30, 2005 #1
    I have an old computer with a P3 955 MHz processor and 128 MB RAM. What would be the best version of Linux to put on this system? I have never used Linux before, but I have heard that it will probably allow the computer to run smoother since it is so old. The only real thing I am goin to do on the computer is write programs in Java.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2005 #2
    If an admin would like to move this thread to the general computer section that would be OK. This doen't really have anything to do with programming so I probably should have put it there.
  4. Dec 30, 2005 #3
    i currently run the breezy badger version for Ubuntu and am quite happy with it.
    there is much support out there and the autodetecion of hardware has been the best so far for me
    i also tried suse and was quite annoyed with it, and freebsd
    i run GNOME as my gui now, i started with KDE and abandoned it quickly
    there are really small versions of linux called Puppylinux which you can run from a USB jumpdrive, so in essence you can just load it off your jumpdrive quite easily
  5. Dec 30, 2005 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus

    Any distro would work. Ubuntu is a good choice. Your only restriction would be the desktop manager you use. I would probably use a light desktop like fluxbox or perhaps XFCE.
  6. Dec 30, 2005 #5
    Let's give some guidelines...

    Now, I'm not old, 23 in fact, but that computer is *far* from ancient by my standards. Then again, I'm the freak running debian , w/o X mind you, on a 233 MHz Pentium MMX with 64MB of RAM.
    So, yes, Linux will allow you to run smooth on your hardware. I've successfully used http://www.damnsmalllinux.org" [Broken] on said machine with no problems. You might want to consider Ubuntu, considering KDE might give that machine a heart attack (don't get me wrong, I use KDE on my hefty machine), or follow dduardo's suggestion and use fluxbox or XFCE. Fluxbox is the default on DSLinux, btw.
    As an aside, you might want to use the word best when describing any GNU/Linux distro with caution. Each distro has strengths and weaknesses, unless you build it from the ground up. If you want to do that, then gain a few years experience looking at all the distributions, tinkering under the hood, screwing installations on the command line, and then grab something like Gentoo and go to town.
    But I am biased. I <3 Debian!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Jan 10, 2006 #6
    As others have pointed out most any distro will run on that, but the RAM is a bit low for KDE or Gnome. XFCE would work fine.

    However, you asked the forbidden question. Its like walking into Jerusalaem with a loud speaker and asking which religion is best. Different distros serve different purposes and follow different design philosophies. For example, I use Slackware on all of my machines. Slackware is designed with priorities: first stability, second security, and everything else a quite distant third. As such my systems run longer than the time between power outages without crashing, on hardware varying from a Pentium 133MHz with i don't know how little ram to my AMD64 machines. Of course, this comes at the cost of me having to be directly involved in the setup of these systems, as Slackware doesn't waste any time doing anything for you that you didn't tell it to do specifically. At another point on the spectrum, is Ubuntu. Ubuntu is designed for ease of use above all else. Tight application integration along with amazingly easy installs through Synaptic. DSLinux and VectorLinux are designed to run lightning fast on very old hardware--as fast on a 900mhz with 128 RAM as they are on my AMD64 with 1GB RAM. VectorLinux is my personal favorite as small distros go, though its not as small as DSLinux.

    Anyway, the point of all this rambling is that there is no such thing as a universal 'best' distro, without some qualification. Easiest to use? Probably Ubuntu. Fast and light? DSLinux. Fast but still full featured? Either Gentoo or Slackware. It all depends on specifically what you're looking for.
  8. Jan 10, 2006 #7
    If I put a gig of ram in it do you think it will run KDE?
  9. Jan 12, 2006 #8

    I would say probably. 512 MB would be enough I think(I rarely use that much on my system running Gnome). At that point processor power becomes the limiter, but if you turn down some of the special effects (in one of the KDE configuration wizards) I think it would be fine.
  10. Feb 28, 2006 #9
    if u put a gig of ram into it make sure the ran slots are the same type i tryed 2 put more ram in my old server but teh slots were differnt so it would not fit.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook