We all have a common issue whereby there is an old PC lying around and we want to revive it using a secure Linux distro (vs. using the un-updated native OS, likely Windows) that is both user-friendly and snappy.

Use case:

I have an old Dell Latitute 131 L (specs here). I am considering dual-boot installing Linux (it already has XP).


  • 256 DDR2 RAM
  • 50+ gig free disk space
  • AMD Turion 64 X2 (64-bit dual-core mobile CPU) 1.6 GHz

How do we know which distribution to choose? Are there any risks to picking older versions of a given distribution?

closed as primarily opinion-based by slm, Anthon, jasonwryan, Zelda, Thomas Nyman Jun 3 '14 at 7:37

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.

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    If you can afford $10-$20 for another 1-2GB of memory, you won't have to make any compromises on which distro to use. – Mark Plotnick Jun 2 '14 at 18:41
  • This is an opinionated Q, please refrain from asking these types of Q's. See the help for more info on appropriate Q's for the site.unix.stackexchange.com/help – slm Jun 2 '14 at 18:50
  • @slm I was afraid of that :-) I know opinion-based questions are very frowned upon in SO but I figured I would chance it. – David Brossard Jun 2 '14 at 18:51
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    Yeah I would try and reform the Q, perhaps there's a way to appease the rules and get your Q asked in some form. – slm Jun 2 '14 at 18:52
  • I just did that. Actually what would be great is some Linux wiki with a matrix of hardware requirements to Linux distro possibility... – David Brossard Jun 2 '14 at 19:58

For simplicity & easy install, you could use Linux Mint or Ubuntu; and just install a simpler (LXDE) Desktop Environment. This will speed up the 'snappiness' of the GUI, while sticking with a modern (and theoretically more secure) distro.

As always, performance largely depends on what you want to use it for. The above recommendation of a RAM upgrade is definitely the best single, reasonably priced addition to speed things up quite a bit.


Two good, lightweight Ubuntu-based distos are Lubuntu and Xubuntu. You should look into those. If you are feeling adventurous you can try Arch Linux. Arch gives you a bare minimum environment, so you will have to build your own system from the ground up. This requires a little more knowledge, but ArchWiki has a good guide to get you started.

  • Thanks. I've tried Xubuntu in the past and didn't like the UI. I will look into Xubuntu. I'm doing this for a friend who is not tech savvy so I take it Arch Linux is off the table. Thanks again. – David Brossard Jun 2 '14 at 18:50

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