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Best Distro for an Old Laptop

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Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by TheLegit » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:35 pm

Hello, I am currently a Windows user but I wanted to try out Linux. I have tried out some of the Linux OSes using Virtualbox on my newer computer. One of the problems that I am facing is that I have this old computer that currently has Windows 7 at the moment. The computer was good for awhile but then the performance started hindering. It has gotten so slow and crippled it cannot even open Google Chrome. Now it will not even boot into Windows 7 anymore. This lead me to start doing some research on the Internet about possible solutions to revive that old thing. Now of course obviously I knew that I had to upgrade the hardware on it. This laptop is a Dell Latitude D630 with the following specs:
2GB of RAM (DDR2)
Intel Core 2 Duo (2GHZ Dual Core Single Thread)
80GB Hard Drive
Possibly 64 Bit? I did some research and seems like it is at least 64 bit Capable
The upgrades are that I would like to upgrade to at least an SSD and 4 GB of RAM, and possibly the processor to a quad core but I don't know if I can do that. Now I have read the Dell Forums and according to that I would be able to upgrade it to 8 GB of RAM if the BIOS was upgraded. I also wanted to Dual Boot Windows 10 and Linux for compartmentalization and compatibility purposes. My question for that is, if the BIOS can be upgraded how do you do that?
So my question is, alongside Windows 10, what would be the best recommended Linux OS for this use case scenario? The reason why I am asking this is because I am kind of still new to Linux even though I have played around with it a little bit on VirtualBox already. There are a lot of choices of distros and it can be overwhelming for someone like me. I am looking for something stable but still with relatively new software so I have been looking around the Debian and Ubuntu LTS based Distributions. I am not really sure what the differences are between the two and I have been really struggling which one to go with. I have been leaning towards MX Linux and Linux Mint but also I have been looking at some Linux OSes like Peppermint, Ubuntu LTS, Trisquel (FSF Approved Ubuntu-Based Distro), Debian Buster, and Pop_! OS. Do you have any suggestions? Would something like MX Linux and/or Linux Mint run just fine on it and be good for a new user like me?
I apologize for the long post.

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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by Adrian » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:47 pm

You can test MX, create a live USB and see how it runs. with 4GB you shouldn't have any problem in my view and the CPU is fine, once installed SSD will also improve the situation. If you want something lighter you can use antiX but I would not recommend that in the first place for a Windows user because it's a bit less userfriendly in my view for new Linux users.

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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by rokytnji.1 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:47 pm

Live runs are great for getting your feet wet and finding if live kernel supports hardware.

Upgrading bios? Not for novices . I might be biased though, since fubaring a touchscreen laptop hard drive change over. So don't pay attention to me. Specs presently stated should suffice for a 64 bit MX install.

Edit. Just noticed this in " How To "
Wondering if it should be moved?

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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by Pierre » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:10 pm

most likely, it would pay to use the current version of MX-18,
& also use the 64 bit version, as you may wish to install other software, like another Web Browser,
- - even though you machine is fairly low specc ..
and ditch the Windows System - completely.
Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] - when your problem is solved!
and DO LOOK at those Unanswered Topics - - you may be able to answer some!.

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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by azrielle » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:39 pm

With 2GB RAM, 64bit version is a waste of resources--32bit version typically uses about 100MB less RAM at idle. MX runs fine on a 2GB circa 2011 netbook, with a much more obsolescent cpu than yours.
Lenovo T430 i5/3320m 8GB MX17.1/Win7SP1 180GB SSD/128GB mSATA
Lenovo X230 i7/3520m 12GB MX17.1/Win7SP1 500GB SSD
Lenovo X131e i3/3227u 8GB MX17.1/AntiX 17.1 Fluxbox/Win7SP1 500GB SSD
Acer AOD257 Atom n570 2GB MX18.1-32bit/Win7SP1 128GB SSD

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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by seaken64 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:39 pm

Welcome to MX Forum.

I think MX would be a good choice. I have successfully used it on several dual boot systems with Windows. I would be more concerned with running Windows 10 on that machine. If I were you I would consider wiping the drive and installing Windows 7 fresh. With MX on the same machine that will be a nice setup.

MX 64-bit will work. It does take a little more Ram but if you can increase to 4GB Ram it will be fine. I run it in 2GB ram all the time. 32-bit will also be good. But if you want to run some modern software 64-bit may be a better choice.

Try the Live version of both the 32-bit and 64-bit setups. I run from a USB 32GB using USB 2.0 and it runs fine. I don't even notice I am not on the hard disk. Once you are ready you can put one or both versions on your new SSD. The live USB is a full featured MX system. It is not crippled in any way. Try it, I think you'll like it.

MX-18 on Thinkpad R61i Core2 Laptop. MX-18 on HP Core2 Desktop
MX-18-64/MX-18-32/antiX-17-32 Frugal on Gateway Core2 Laptop
antiX-17 on Compaq PIII 1000 Mhz Desktop, Multi-boot Slackware, Debian, MX, W2K
antiX-17/16 on Dell PIII 450 Mhz Laptop

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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by tek10 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:41 pm

I'm running MX on a 2008 HP laptop with a Pentium dual core cpu and 3GB RAM. All I've done regarding hardware mods is upgrade the HDD to a hybrid HDD. MX 18 runs fine on it. I originally replaced Windows 7 with Linux Lite which also worked fine using the original HDD. Linux revived the sytem so it ran as good as or better than new running Vista. You'll especially notice the difference if you go with an SSD and 4GB RAM. Skip the cpu upgrade and 8GB RAM.

If you decided to use Mint, recommend you run the xfce version. Live testing is the best way to start out and see what works well with your hardware and which OS appeals to you for starters.

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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by timkb4cq » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:03 pm

I've got a lappy with a core2 duo & 4gb ram that runs MX-18 just fine. It's more pleasant with an SSD but it's quite usable even with the original 5400 rpm drive.

2gb is sufficient if you don't run too many things at once, but if you're the type to have 2 dozen tabs open all the time you'll appreciate more. Just use UBlock or a similar extension on Firefox to keep its processes under control. Some websites can easily overwhelm FF run bare.
MSI 970A-G43 MB, AMD FX-6300 (six core), 16GB RAM, GeForce 730, Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD, Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB

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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by JayM » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:04 pm

TheLegit wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:35 pm
2GB of RAM (DDR2)
Intel Core 2 Duo (2GHZ Dual Core Single Thread)
80GB Hard Drive
If the Latitude D630 is a laptop, and I think it is, you can't easily upgrade the CPU as you'd have to take the laptop apart to get to it. Also see this thread in Dell's forum:
https://www.dell.com/community/Laptops- ... -p/4403221
Basically you can only upgrade the CPU up to a Core Duo 2.6GHz as newer CPUs require a faster bus speed than your Lattitude supports. I don't know if it can run a quad-core or not. You'd probably need to take it to a computer shop and have the work done and I don't know that it would even be worth the money. You could probably buy a used Thinkpad on eBay for not much more than you'd spend on buying the CPU and having it installed. Unless of course you're already experienced and comfortable with working on laptop hardware, and can find that CPU at low cost.

Your current CPU should be adequate to run MX though. I agree with your choices of upping the RAM to at least 4GB (with the latest BIOS which as of 2014 was version A19 it can support up to 8GB of DDR2 RAM) and an SSD, particularly the latter as it will noticeably improve boot-up time and overall system performance. You could probably even run MX on that system as-is, with 2GB RAM and an 80GB HDD. Another possible solution would be antiX Linux which is even lighter-weight (and faster) than MX, though it doesn't have all of MX's GUI-based tools (it has some though, like snapshot, remaster and repo manager) and it's meant more for intermediate Linux users who don't mind doing some things using the command-line in a terminal window. I wouldn't really recommend it very highly for a beginning Linuxer. MX would be a better fit for you, I think.

I've used MX on an old 32-bit netbook with a 1.6GHz single-core Atom processor and 2GB of RAM. It's no speed-demon but it runs OK, and it's certainly better than running obsolete Windows XP on it or throwing the machine away. It's adequate as a spare computer just for some light web-surfing and similar everyday tasks. I currently have antiX installed on it due to its being faster than MX. There are other lightweight Linux distros, but I've tested several of them on the netbook (those that offer 32-bit versions) and found that none of them performed any better than MX, which is considered to be a medium-weight distro due to Xfce's overhead. Puppy Linux probably would have performed well but it runs everything with root privileges which I see as a security risk. Linux Lite stopped offering 32-bit versions two or three years ago but when I tried the last 32-bit one available on a live USB it was very slow to boot. Peppermint was also slow-booting and slow-performing. MX was actually faster than either of these so-called lightweight distros.

But as others have said, you can burn various distros' ISOs to a USB stick and test-drive them and see what you think, bearing in mind that running them over a USB2 bus is going to be slower than if they were installed on your hard disk.
Last edited by JayM on Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Best Distro for an Old Laptop


Post by Stevo » Mon Aug 05, 2019 10:10 pm

You'll get more speedup for less pain if you switch it to an SSD, assuming it's easy to get to the hard drive.

There's a lady that came to the library with a budget 2016 Lenovo laptop that can't see its hard drive at all, so I burned MX 18.3 onto a flash drive for her so she can at least use it to get on the Net. Just to get a look at the HD requires removing the whole back, 17 tiny screws in all, and we haven't had time yet to do that. She is looking to get a $20 SSD to slide into it once we do, though.

Re BIOS updating:
Unfortunately, there's no rhyme or reason on how you update the BIOS, though. If you're lucky, your BIOS can be updated directly from the BIOS setup program using a USB stick (yay MSI!) without any OS at all. Less lucky people will need to create and boot a FreeDos or even a Win98 disk and update the BIOS from that.

The least fortunate will have to use a Windows-only program to update it. You'll have to do a little research for your particular model to find how your dice landed.

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