I have an old IBM Think Centre computer, with a 3Ghz Pentium IV Processor. I bought it as a refurbished computer. I used it as a webserver a few months but now I want to use it as my personal computer. With a CPU of 3Ghz which is not dual core but is recognized as "two cores", 2GB RAM it should be a good computer. It worked very well as a webserver, but as a computer it is really hard to work. Lots of delays before opening a program, software is blocking etc and I just use it for browsing web and other simple tasks. I tried latest version of Ubuntu with KDE (don't laugh - I had KDE on a less performant computer and worked well), then Debian with its Gnome...

After that I read that there could be something related to Linux Kernel, as this is an old computer. So, I read that Linux 3.2 is good for 15+ years old computers. Correct me if I am wrong. So I installed Ubuntu in a virtual machine to make some tests and downgrade the kernel. I uninstalled Linux-image and header and downloaded these deb files of the 3.2 Kernel from Ubuntu. I installed them using dpkg and get an error from intel-microcode, that kernel is not compatible. Rebooted an got a black screen, an intramfs terminal. Then some kernel panic after typing exit.

The question is:

Is it good to downgrade the kernel of a newer system? Why a newer kernel does not well-support old hardware? Do you think Linux 3.2 is ok? Should I directly install an older Linux distro which uses this kernel?

  • Do you have a link for the article you read that said "Linux 3.2 is good for 15+ years old computers"? – Mark Plotnick Sep 12 at 19:18
  • @MarkPlotnick bodhilinux.com/w/selecting-the-correct-iso-image "The Legacy image utilizes the older 3.2 Linux kernel that is optimized for old (15+ years old) hardware." – MM PP Sep 12 at 19:21
  • Not sure what version of Ubuntu with KDE you are using, but the specifications you mentioned barely meet the current minimum requirements to run that software (Ubuntu 18.04 uses KDE5). You should be able to optimize the default install to be more lean on resources by disabling features you do not need. If you want to use the bodhilinux "optimized" kernel from your comment, you should install that operating system instead. – GracefulRestart Sep 12 at 21:39

Sometimes new kernels drop support for old hardware, but it doesn't seem to be your problem. I'm running Linux 4.9 on 2 GHz Xeons without issues. But 2 GB of RAM is not much for running a modern Gnome or KDE desktop environment. It barely accommodates Firefox alone. I recommend installing a light desktop environment instead, for example xfce, which is provided by the stock Debian installer media. I don't recommend installing old software from end-of-life distributions, because you'll miss security support that way.

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