Old PC, need reccomendation


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Oct 17, 2020
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Hello world.

I just acquired an HP Pavilion a320n.
Specs are:
Amd 2.8Ghz processor
512 MB RAM
Nvidia GeForce 4 graphics
120 GB HDD to start.
Which client version of Linux would anyone suggest I try? My eventual goal is just to run file share at home but I want to start basic and learn some. Thanks!


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I have a similar PC to you, though with a slightly better CPU, GPU and more RAM with half the storage space.
From my experience, it depends on your experience in Linux. The major drawback is the CPU.
If you are a new user, you could try out Bodhi Linux.
If you are more intermediate, there is Slackel (OpenBox) or Tiny Core Linux. The latter of which would definately run on any PC made after the late 1980's but can be a bit difficult to configure, if you don't know what you are doing.
Looks like that is a 32bit processor.
With that little amount of RAM finding a distro which will run well will be a challenge.
I would recommend a Debian minimal install or AntiX as @World recommended.
AntiX should run O.K. with those specs. You will likely want the "antiX-base".
For what it's worth, you can probably max out the RAM and get an SSD for under $50 total. You may need an IDE to SATA converter plug to use an SSD. That's a few more bucks.

That will improve your experience significantly.

Also, I didn't even know AMD had made 32 bit CPUs that hit those speeds. Now I know...
LOL I probably have some PC2700 RAM in a box around here somewhere. By box, I don't mean computer.

If you have trouble finding some online (you shouldn't) or online, let me know and I'll look around. I don't even know if I have anything old enough to run memtest on 'em. I'm not a huge fan of clutter, so I've gotten rid of most of my older hardware.
Looks like that is a 32bit processor.
@Vrai is correct, your CPU is 32-bit. That will limit your distro choices also, but you still should be able to squeeze many more years of use out of it. :)
Here's your processor or one that is similar.

The instruction set for those processors is only SSE and most modern browsers require SSE2 or above to run properly.

Most of today's browsers are going to eat that processor up and probably not run very well.

I would recommend running it before spending any money on it and see what it does with antix or bodhi.
I should toss this out there...

Vivaldi has a 32 bit browser that I've used in artificially constrained virtual machines and it has run well.

As Nelson says, browsing is going to be an issue. I can also still get Midori to run.
A good choice imo.

I've used it in the past on low spec desktops and it works well and the provided wiki should explain the necessary how to for installing and updating and setting everything up.

Bodhi is uses Ubuntu LTS as its base so it does offer excellent LTS support.

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Well, he HAS an old PC and wants to know what Linux might work on it :)
Nout wrong with running an old machine like your 32bit one. Try Puppy maybe antix as has been mentioned. There is a stupid snobbery out there in Linux land that has a disdain for old hardware.

Well I have 2 old Vaios at home that are very old - lovely machines and run Linux well. Enjoy yourmachine and the journey to an OS that will work on it. Puppy Linux Stretch is known to work well on some old hardware.
Nout wrong with running an old machine like your 32bit one.

There is a stupid snobbery out there in Linux land that has a disdain for old hardware.

Enjoy your machine and the journey to an OS that will work on it.
I use computers as far back as 2007 and Linux runs great on them.

I do have and old single core AMD Athlon processor unsure of which one anymore and it worked great with 32 bit Antix and Puppy.

I used Epiphany browser and it worked good for normal browsing.

I couldn't watch online videos because it's processor was SSE instruction set.

I used smtube to play youtube videos without a using a browser.

Don't get discouraged because part of the fun of Linux is learning how capable Linux really is.

It's a matter of finding that right Linux distro that will run on the hardware installed in the computer you want to use.

Once it all goes together and works you will have learned quite a bit about how great Linux really is.

Linux really does give new life to old computers and the hardware they run.
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