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I want to install Linux on my old laptop from 2006 February. Primarily I want to use it for lightweight coding and browsing the internet.

Software needed:

python
some web design tools (i have some in mind)
dropbox

It's specs are:

Notebook: Acer Aspire 5003WLMi
RAM: 1GB
Processor: AMD Turion 64 ML-32
Graphics Adapter: SIS Mirage 2 M760 128 MB
Display: 15.4 inch, 16:10, 1280x800 pixels

I just took the Linux Distribution Chooser quiz and its recommendations are OpenSuse and Fedora. Linux Mint was in the additional recommendation. I was hoping that Lubuntu / ArchLinux would show up as I read that these are minimal distributions; please correct me if I am wrong about this.

One thing I definitely want is to install whatever software as and when I need and not get a lot of software preinstalled.

Please suggest your recommendations.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by goldilocks, Anthon, slm, Ramesh, Thomas Nyman May 12 at 15:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I don't think ArchLinux is more minimal than any other distributions, unless you can show the data. Distribution choice is not something you could outsource to stack exchange. Installed size of a distribution typically depends an what you choose to install. –  Pavel Šimerda May 12 at 12:21

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If still want access to a nice package repository, I would consider something like CrunchBang linux. It's an Ubuntu fork so it can use traditional repos with apt-get. I've been running CrunchBang (#!) for some time now on an older EEEPC model with 1GB ram and its nice and smooth.

Here is a list of the software #! comes with (stable version). Of course, it wouldn't be too hard to just remove a couple of them right after installation.

I would also recommend using a window manager such as dwm. It would help you maximize your laptop's screen size (I even use it on my dual-screen desktop setup) and keep visuals to a minimum. Of course, this sort of jump from Gnome or KDE is not for everyone. It's easy to install/implement and the learning curve really as bad as they say.

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Thank you I will give CrunchBang Linux a try. –  Nanda Sep 9 '11 at 23:20
    
For what it's worth, Crunchbang moved away from Ubuntu to Debian (Squeeze) ever since the Statler release in early 2011. –  rahmu Jan 27 '12 at 15:49
1  
I have taken MaxMackie's advice and kept CrunchBang in my mind. After 3 months of asking this question, I finally tried out CrunchBang and I was not disappointed. This distro fit my needs perfectly. While it may not be for everyone, it is the perfect linux for people who want to be minimal and to experiment. –  Nanda Apr 8 '12 at 6:48
    
WOW, just threw it at an old Thinkpad tp40 with an belking wifi card and everything just worked ... wifi, sound, flash, everything! - thanks! –  laktak Aug 30 '13 at 7:03
    
No problem @hcris, glad to hear everything is smooth. –  maxmackie Aug 30 '13 at 10:38

I would recommend crunchbang too. I have it installed on an older thinkpad(x60) and it is fast enough. Using Openbox desktop seems to make a difference too. It also offers to install (or not) most common packages on initial installation.

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Just to add my 2c One more vote for Crunchbang here, however you may want to also consider Debian stable.

Crunchbang pros/cons +installs most things you need +fairly lightweight +firmware included for most devices

-since it is based on testing, it may have some more rough edges than Debian

Debian pros /cons Whilst it doesn't come with all the bells and whistles by default (open box configuration, conky etc) it may use less resources, as you can start from an absolute minimal install (no GUI, basic packages only) and only install the tools you need. 1 gb of ram is still good enough for the vast majority of programming, it may even be better as you would need to make good use of resources for programs to run quickly.

One other reason for suggesting Debian is that most packages are somewhat more tested in the stable version . You may run into problems that some packages are positively ancient (xfce is still on 4.8 for stable).

You are essentially trading ease of set up (Crunchbang) and newer packages vs potentially less resource requirement (Debian) and more tested packages, hopefully reducing bugs to the minimum. One final note is that I found upgrading Debian from stable to stable releases is actually quite pain free, if you only use the main repository and don't add other things (at least for a server install, no GUI) .

YMMV

I guess it comes down to choosing the distribution that agrees with your needs vs how it looks like - you can make pretty much every distro look the same.

Things to consider would be +security +stability +resource usage +hardware compatibility +ease of obtaining the packages you need +how easy is it to update the OS and how likely are things to break (e.g. I wouldn't run anything other than stable since I rely on my computer working no matter what).

The systems biggest weakness is the gpu and ram, so you need to install a lightweight DE/window manager Xfce, lxde, open box are all good contenders. I would stay away from gnome or KDE as they would eat up more ram.

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I'm typing this on a Compaq/HP nc8000, of about the same vintage. It appears to have 2Gb memory, though. It runs Slackware 13.1 very handily. I bet Slackware comes with most or all of the packages you have in mind, but don't specify. It certainly has python.

I think there's an even later and greater version of Slackware available.

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I will give this a shot too. Thanks. –  Nanda Sep 10 '11 at 0:08

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