Question Best Linux distro for old PC decked out with RAM and HDD space - old games, multimedia, web

Jul 23, 2019
My leanings: Mint, Lubuntu.

System specs
  • HP DM1 3010NR. 64-bit Netbook. Manufactured early 2011.
  • AMD E-350 APU (CPU with embedded GPU) 1.6GHZ. Dual-core 64-bit. BobCat.
  • Gigabit ethernet, Wireless-N Wi-Fi (not AC, no 5ghz), BlueTooth, Verizon 4G
  • 2TB 5400 RPM hard disk drive (upgrade) 7mm heigh (1tb per platter)
  • 32GB DDR3-1600 RAM (2x16GB so-dimm sticks; upgrade).
Intended uses:
  • Firefox & Chrome
  • Watch movies. X264 1080p. Close equivalent to Media Player Classic.
  • Games - Open source, emulators, closed-source freeware, and commercial. Nothing newer than 2010 unless it is one of those low-spec games
  • Pictures, books, music
  • LibreOffice
  • BOINC (background science crunching), with VirtualBox if able (for LHC project apps).
Secondary Circumstances:
  • Need Ethernet, wi-fi, and graphics drivers to work
  • Four systems bought for $50 each from boot-to-BIOS / intact screen parts/repair as-is auctions on eBay. 2TB HDD and 16GB RAM Modules purchased from NewEgg.
  • The RAM's very high speed isn't utilized, but the BIOS is using a very low CAS latency to get partial exploitation.
  • CPU is underclocked to control heat (Cheap A/C 85) and bring power consumption on par with a more modern but more expensive Gigabyte Brix or Intel Nuc
  • CPU is the main system bottleneck, then HDD. Most 'old linux' distros appear tuned for RAM amoiunt bottlenecks.
  • Oodles and kaboodles of RAM, more than all the software the slow CPU can run can ever use.
  • Huge 5400rpm HDD to be filled up to the brim with games, movies, music, books, and pictures
  • Reason for Linux: Out of windows 7 license keys and Windows 10 driver support for these PCs is poor.
  • Set-up user is experienced windows user with light Linux experience (I can format XFS drives and set up swap partitions via GUI). Can do home-DIY IT & network.
  • End users are intermediate windows users with no linux experience with semi-regular contact to me.
  • Don't mind lightweight desktop. Like LXDE over XFCE. Don't know LXQT but seem positive. Good with Cinnamon. Don't dig GNOME
  • Windows Aero type features not required
  • Prefer over GIMP
  • Prefer Media Player Classic Home Cinema over VLC.
  • No one minds using closed-source freeware or commercial software
  • Need large repositories and good software compatibility especially games and emulators.
  • Willing to use WINE but native software is preferred. End users won't be into tinkering WINE to make stuff work.
Jul 19, 2019
Check out Zorin, that's what I have on one of my desktops. I've got Zorin 12.4 Ultimate but Zorin 15 just came out and looks really nice. There are also Lite versions of Zorin too. Plus they have a good forum that is very helpful.
E-350 APU + 32GB DDR3 * Scratches head*

Because of the slow nature of the CPU and the bottleneck you get from Laptop drives you will want a lighter distro.

Zorin? It's a great OS provided you have good hardware, I wouldn't recommend it for those.

XFCE desktop
Pacman 4 installer and Arch repository access which is quite large and stable.
Lots of perks like changing the desktop on the fly with Manjaro it also runs pretty fast even on a Dual Core.

LXDE or LXQT desktops.. nothing fancy and rather simplistic
Access to Ubuntu repositories so you have lots to choose from.
Fast, low on CPU resources.

Bodhi Linux
Enlighten Desktop is both resource-light and fast.
Decent App center and you can use PPAs from Ubuntu
Just as Fast and low on CPU resources as Lubuntu

XFCE or MATE Desktops preferred.
Ubuntu PPA access for Traditional Mint
LMDE is based on Debian instead of Ubuntu so you have Debian Access which is massive but it updates more often.
Can be more CPU intensive than all of the others at times but still very usable.

michael diemer

Feb 2, 2013
For a super light distro that still has a nice GUI, try Watt OS. I have version 10, the latest, although 11 should be coming out soon. It should do everything you need while maximizing your resources, all the while looking like it's a much heavier system. Perhaps the best of the super-lights.