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Which Linux for a old Toshiba Tacra M3 laptop

Discussion in 'Laptops / Netbooks' started by GEGOFF, May 29, 2016.


    GEGOFF Guest

    I am new to Linux, I have a old Toshiba laptop with Windows XP on it that I use when I travel. Since XP is no longer supported and I can't put 8.1 or 10 on it, I want to put Linux to get a few more years out of it. But I don't know what flavor of Linux would work best. When I travel, I use it to check e-mail and watch you tube videos and some times play games. Any one know which Linux would work best?

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  2. atanere

    atanere Guest

    Welcome to the forums!

    So, you have asked the unanswerable question. Only you will know which is best for you. You do seem to know that there are many different "distributions" (distros) available as opposed to the very few Windows choices you have remaining. This is kind of like you telling us how far your commute to work or school is, how much traffic you encounter, what your personal driving patterns are, and whether there are any steep hills to consider.... and then asking what kind of car you should get? See what I mean? :D

    Moving on, in order to try to help you. We know you have an older computer. The two main things to consider so that we may begin to offer you advice is whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit CPU? And how much RAM you have? Don't be fooled by a Windows XP version that is 32-bit... many of them were. But they were still installed on 64-bit CPU's because that was a cheaper Windows version. But there really were some 32-bit CPU's too. You need to know this.

    You do want to use 64-bit Linux if you can. Support for 32-bit anything is fading away, but if that is what you have you will still be able to do something better than XP, and you will still be able to get many years of service from your laptop. An older XP computer also means, for sure, that you have the old style BIOS, and not the more modern UEFI. This is a good thing for all new Linux users, in my opinion anyway.

    The best way to find what is "best" for you is for you to download 2 or 3 different distros, burn them to DVD and try to boot them up. Even this brings up issues you may not have considered... such as, "Do you have a writable DVD drive to make these disks?" You could burn the DVD's on a different computer, but you'll need at least a DVD-ROM reading drive on the laptop. Or, do you know if your laptop will boot on a USB drive? Linux is most commonly installed with either USB or DVD, but I tend to favor DVD's because they're cheap and I don't mind throwing them away if they get corrupted during the burn process, or whatever.

    So, the process is to download a (64-bit) Linux ISO file of the distro that you pick first... and then you have to use a special feature on your DVD burning software called, "Burn Image" to put that ISO onto the DVD. Don't just "copy" the ISO to the DVD, or else it will not boot. I'm not going to attempt to describe burning the ISO to a USB stick unless that is your only option. You'll have to let us know.

    Here are some distros for you to consider. Google them and go to their websites to learn more about them and find their download links to get their ISO files. If you have 2 GB or more of RAM, you can run most anything... so try out Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, Debian, etc. If you have 1 GB of RAM or less, you will need to consider "light" distros that are lighter on hardware requirements. Some of these are Linux Lite, LXLE, Lubuntu, Simplicity Linux, Puppy Linux, etc. You can also find download links and other info on these, and even more distros at http://distrowatch.com And if you want to see a bunch of screen shots of what some of the distros look like after they're installed, take a look at http://www.linuxscreenshots.org

    If you get a DVD burned and your laptop boots it up, most of the distros will run as a "live" system that you can check out a bit before you install it. This is a very nice way to try out different systems, but it is quite a bit slower than when installed to a hard drive. There is usually an icon on the desktop to install whatever it is that you're running. When your're ready, take the plunge and do it. I would suggest letting Linux install to the entire hard drive and letting it erase XP.

    Oh, games... depends on what you want to do with that too. Some distros have a few games built in and there are others you can download. There are many Steam games made for Linux now, but you'll need the CPU/RAM to handle those. I'm not a gamer so I can't answer much to that.

    Good luck!
  3. Bethlehem

    Bethlehem Guest

    The Tecra! I had one of those in the trunk of my car for an 'emergency' lappy. Was in there for years and fired up every time I was in need of it.... every damned time! Was a workhorse and, I had it for about 8 years and only got rid of it when I moved to Hawai'i (gave it to an employee, who probably still has it).
    Yeah, good little lappy. Ended up putting in an EIDE SSD and a 2GB of RAM.... never let me down.

    So on to your question.
    ANY flavor should run on it. I had Slackware on mine. It's the 'bells and whistles' that you'll need to tone down on your Linux. Cool it with the compositing and all the eye-candy crap. I personally had fvwm2 on mine, but that's just me. No doubt XFCE would have run on it. I never had a need to test the card slot or modem, but I believe the rest of the laptop is 100% supported... I know for a fact the wifi, sound, and nvidia were.

    OK, so what do 'I' suggest?
    Install Debian, XFCE version. And use the install CD that has the 'non-free' stuff on it already so you get the extra drivers and packages you might be interested in.
    Go to
    And download

    GEGOFF Guest

    The laptop that I have came from a Toshiba tec, She has to get issued a new one every 2 years ans is allowed to buy their old one. Problem is that their service support software was still on it even though it had been wiped and the information telling me if it is a 32bit system or a 64. Here is what it did say: Processor 1.86gz, 800 MHZ, 512 Ram, and 80GB Hard drive. I have a very old cd of Ubuntu 7.0 , 32 bit system and I tried to use it in trial mode and checked the system setting. It showed that it was a 32 bit system, but I don't know if that is reading the processor or it's self. But I think it is a 32 bit system. I do have DVD burner and USB on it.
  5. Bethlehem

    Bethlehem Guest

    Hey @GEGOFF, that PentiumM on there is 10year old 32bit cpu.
    The Debian CD I linked to is a 32bit install and should work perfect.
    Or any other 32bit installer CD I suppose.... or installer USB image... or a carrier pigeon so long as he knows assembly... and so on and so forth. ;)

    Even if the chipset supported 64bit, with the half a gig of RAM you got it'd be like going to a buffet and and filling up on asparagus and mashed potatoes before the steak was served.
  6. atanere

    atanere Guest

    So, it seems that @Bethlehem is much more familiar with your laptop/capabilities so I'm sure he can offer better advice. Debian using XFCE (or LXDE) desktops may work okay, but it would help a lot if you could upgrade the RAM. If you find it too sluggish once installed, there are other distros/desktops that can get by with less RAM a little better.

    Good luck!
  7. If you have XP on it and want an alternative, give Q4OS a try, it is quite like XP in its interface and would suit your hardware very well.

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