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Installing Linux on Old Dell Laptops

Discussion in 'Linux & Open Source' started by radderfire, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. radderfire

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 24, 2007

    Posts: 2,938

    If I have some old Dell laptops that I want to install Linux on, is there any particular version you would recommend? I have not used Linux before, so any tips on getting started would be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  2. Hades

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 19, 2002

    Posts: 20,362

    Location: Surrey and London

    Most older Dell laptops should have good Linux support. So the focus should probably be on which is the most user friendly distro for someone new to Linux. People have different opinions on it. Mine is that Linux Mint is a great first Linux. Either the cinnamon or mate versions would be good (cinnamon and mate refer to the desktop environment with Cinnamon being a bit more modern but mate running better on older machines and still looking good.
     
  3. AmateurExpert

    Gangster

    Joined: Aug 7, 2017

    Posts: 376

    Location: location location

    How old? For example, I have a couple of Dells that are over 10 years old that run Xubuntu pretty well, and newer Dells should be no worse in terms of compatibility.

    Any of the various Ubuntu distros or ones based on it (like Mint) are a good choice as you'll be able to find plenty of support on the web. For whatever issue or quirk you come across, you're likely to find that someone has already asked about it and had it solved on some forum; this can do a lot to reduce the frustration factor when tackling an unfamiliar platform.

    The choice available on the platform is a strength but problematic for newbies; it would help us give suggestions if you had some particular ideas in mind of what you'd like to do with the machines.
     
  4. jakspyder

    Mobster

    Joined: Aug 12, 2008

    Posts: 2,987

    Location: Edinburgh

    Ubuntu Fedora and Mint seem to be the most approachable to new starts.

    Personally I like Fedora, though really between the 3, the experience besides desktop environment is comparable, and you can install whatever desktop environment you want.

    Ubuntu and its flavours appear to have the best driver support, and more crucially, more people asking similar questions and so it is a more welcoming first step, you can always change later as many end up doing once they know the ropes.

    Some small advice, if you want to learn linux, you have to use it. Dual booting and sitting primarily in windows wont help, try if you can, to use it as a daily driver for a month. That should be sufficient to get comfortable.
     
  5. Cromulent

    Mobster

    Joined: Nov 1, 2007

    Posts: 2,683

    I'm going to suggest Manjaro as a brilliant first Linux distro. It is based on Arch Linux but makes it easy to use. Plus because it is based on Arch Linux, all the software is up-to-date and because it is a rolling release distribution you never need to upgrade to a newer version. It is the, best of both worlds.

    Also, the AUR has a whole bunch of proprietary software in it that is very easy to install and keep up to date if you are not bothered about just using open source software. Overall I'd have to say it is my favourite distribution so far. I did use Arch Linux in the past when I ran Linux natively, but these days I run Windows 10 as my primary operating system and just run Linux and BSD in virtual machines when I need to use them. That way I get games and Microsoft Office and also a great development environment when using Linux or BSD in a virtual machine.
     
  6. pete910

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 3, 2013

    Posts: 2,204

    Don't really make sense that remark as they are not rolling distros so actually end up behind most of the time.

    @op

    Like Cromulent has said, I would pick Antergos though(also arch) due to rolling so most up to date.

    Personally I feel you may be better off trying a few in a vm on your main computer to get the feel of what you like ect.
     
  7. AmateurExpert

    Gangster

    Joined: Aug 7, 2017

    Posts: 376

    Location: location location

    In fairness, this isn't going to be a problem for old Dell laptops, and Dell's Project Sputnik has been producing various Dell laptops preloaded with Ubuntu.

    Isn't Manjaro a bit easier than Antergos for novices? Though we still don't know what the OP would like to do with their machines, so tricky to evaluate the options.
     
  8. radderfire

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 24, 2007

    Posts: 2,938

    I have fairly modest requirements for usage. Really I just want to get the computers back up and running again nicely, and able to browse the internet, maybe do a bit of Word Processing and listen to music but not a whole lot more. Thanks for the replies so far.
     
  9. AmateurExpert

    Gangster

    Joined: Aug 7, 2017

    Posts: 376

    Location: location location

    Thanks for the update. You could probably pick any of the suggestions in that case; don't worry too much about the choices, just get started and enjoy the freedom! You can always change your mind at any point, but equally if your first choice works OK then there's no harm in sticking with it.
     
  10. pete910

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 3, 2013

    Posts: 2,204

    I agree regards compatibility, I was merely pointing out the "newer drivers" miss information .

    Neither is what you call hard tbh, Like the vast majority of distros out there, they have a installer gui, package/program manager gui ect so the "it's hard to install/use linux" meme really needs to stop for the most part, there are exceptions to that rule but think you'd agree on the whole.

    Sorry for going off topic OP
     
  11. Enfield

    Soldato

    Joined: Nov 8, 2003

    Posts: 7,396

    Location: Hampshire

    Distro hopping over the past 15+ years, Solus is the one I've settled on, so that would be my suggestion.
     
  12. Earth[Tera].bin

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 12, 2007

    Posts: 1,643

    Have a look at Elementary OS , debian based distro that's quite polished and nice for browsing, media playback etc. Don't have to contribute, just enter zero as a custom payment and you'll be able to download and try out.
     
  13. Sao_Sin

    Gangster

    Joined: Mar 18, 2009

    Posts: 100

    I'd suggest vanilla Ubuntu for your first forrey. 18 LTS is out soon
     
  14. LuckyBenski

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 28, 2017

    Posts: 1,165

    Location: London

    I'm surprised no one's asked about your actual specs yet. All the above is great advice in general, but older machines (anything pre-Core era Intel, and really most mobile Core2 CPUs) will benefit from a lighter distro. This is mostly down to the Desktop Environment and its graphical requirements I think. If you have 2GB+ memory but an older CPU, Lubuntu can be a good choice - it's Ubuntu with the lighter LXDE environment preloaded.
     
  15. Cromulent

    Mobster

    Joined: Nov 1, 2007

    Posts: 2,683

    I've been playing around with the i3 window manager on Manjaro today, and I have to say it is fantastic for devices like a laptop with a small screen. I imagine it would run on just about any hardware you wanted to run it on, and it would still be very fast.

    Takes a little while to get used to keyboard shortcuts though. Now I'm going to spend my time refreshing my Vim knowledge so I can do everything I want to do on the command line without having to worry about GUIs.

    So give i3 a shot. Manjaro has a community build with it installed by default with a nice theme.