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Author Topic: linux advice:- ubuntu, mint or other?  (Read 8407 times)
marcus
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« on: January 05, 2020, 09:47:41 PM »

not sure this truly belongs in "low energy computing", more up-cycling computing but...

I've been given an old Imac (20", 2.4GHz core 2 duo, 1Gbyte ram, 250Gb Hd) which is running OS X snow leopard - which is rather out of date and unsupported but is otherwise in excellent condition, so I'm thinking of installing Linux as a dual boot. I have previously installed Ubuntu 14. on an old XP laptop so I was going to go with ubuntu again, but noted that the current version(s) 18 / 19 recommend a minimum 4Gb of RAM.

I was trying to find system requirements for mint as that's supposed to be lighter but couldn't find any, then saw there is a Lubuntu, xubuntu and others and have bogged down in 'options overload'.

Is there any advice on what I should go for? I was thinking mint as it's supposed to be lighter & easier that ubuntu and well supported. With the ubuntu 14 installation I did have to find some alternate drivers to make the wifi and sound work, but I never really got my head around all those 'sudo blah blah blah' commands and have probably forgotten a lot of what I picked up back then.

Of course I could buy 4Gb of ram for this Imac but that means spending some money!  Shocked
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 09:49:43 PM by marcus » Logged
Ted
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2020, 09:32:14 AM »

As you say there are loads - https://mashtips.com/lightweight-os/

I haven't tried any of the super lightweight ones - I use Debian on a couple of old laptops which have 4GB RAM anyway.

Can you burn and boot from a CD/DVD?  You could download and try them out before committing to one.
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titan
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2020, 10:07:29 AM »

To be blunt Why  bother especially as duel boot, what will it provide that the existing OS doesn't.What do you want to use it for why are you considering installing Linux, all lightweight distros are just that, lightweight and struggle with a lot of modern Linux apps which are built for modern PCs, and there is usually more " 'sudo blah blah blah' commands". The lightweight disto is a bit of myth they all need a decent CP/GPU and ram for a decent performance.
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marcus
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2020, 02:09:13 PM »

Ted:
thx. I did in fact download  mint 19 last night with the intention of trying it from DVD - took 2hrs to download so didn't get time to try it. Also found that it will run with 1Gb (but really wants 2).

I guess i've sort of answered my own question: i'm probably best off with mint and not bother looking at all the alternatives, but may end up adding ram anyway; it's not that expensive.

To be blunt Why  bother especially as duel boot, what will it provide that the existing OS doesn't.What do you want to use it for why are you considering installing Linux, all lightweight distros are just that, lightweight and struggle with a lot of modern Linux apps which are built for modern PCs, and there is usually more " 'sudo blah blah blah' commands". The lightweight disto is a bit of myth they all need a decent CP/GPU and ram for a decent performance.

Why bother? Because the existing OS is obsolete. That's not a problem if you just want to watch a DVD / play games, but if you wish to use the internet then safari , firefox don't work, chrome still works on some websites but is years out of date, and not secure so not really useful for work /  tax return / banking even if those websites will still function in chrome.

The point of installing a modern 'supported' OS is to make it into a useful computer rather than being an ornament. Smiley

Dual boot isn't really necessary, true, but will still leave me with the existing OS in case i find it works better for something.
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titan
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2020, 04:59:14 PM »

I don't know anything about Apple but this site says you can upgrade OS X snow leopard  on Imac  to  OS X El Capitan   https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT206886  which will run the later versions of Firefox.
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marcus
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2020, 05:33:40 PM »

ahh - now that is interesting - the previous owner of the Imac gave me the impression that the OS wasn't upgradeable and I never questioned it...

but following your link, the list of compatible Imacs goes back to the early 2009 2.66GHz, 2Gb Imac; I think this one is late  2008, 2.4Ghz 1Gb  Sad . I wonder if El Capitan will still install with more memory or just refuse.

Well I've started downloading el capitan to see (will take ~5 1/2 hrs on my 'broadband'  Angry )  just in case 'cos it does say on the main page of your link Imac 2007 or later...

I have tried mint from DVD and it does work - very very slowly: don't know if that's 'cos it's running from DVD vs running on 1Gb ram- bit of both I expect.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2020, 05:49:45 PM by marcus » Logged
titan
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2020, 07:18:40 PM »

The so called lightweight distros mainly run a normal OS but with a smaller, less cpu/gpu demanding  desktop. You could do a basic Debian install and run a real lightweight desktop or more accurately a window manager like Openbox there is a UK distro based on it,  https://www.bunsenlabs.org/    or better still i3  https://i3wm.org/ I have run both, although there is a bit of a learning curve You can install any desktop on any Linux distro. I think if I were in your position I would give bunsenlabs a spin they also have an excellent helpful forum.
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marcus
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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2020, 09:13:58 PM »

hmm, yes I'm not sure about the phrase "...although there is a bit of a learning curve..." as that sounds like what I was trying to avoid  Smiley If I want to install libreoffice and get the wifi drivers etc, sorted will it be as easy to do as the mainstream distros?

Having said that, the system requirements for bunsenlabs certainly look more favorable and it looks like it will run off the DVD for trial purposes, and probably won't take as long as el capitan for download.

the selling point of ubuntu/mint is the ease of installation for linux beginners(?) and long term support (LTS) offered. Bunsenlabs sounds OK but I don't wish to be a linux expert and don't want to spend too much time asking 'beginner' questions on the forum how to get this and that working, particularly if it doesn't have LTS and I end up going through the whole rigmarole again in 10 or 12 months.

I'm still not clear what the downsides of these lightweight distros are though - beyond having to learn 'linux'
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titan
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2020, 10:20:26 PM »

The real problem is that any modern OS needs modern hardware, that's progress. Linux being modular allows installation of the OS without the normal resource  heavy desktop ,replacing it with less resource demanding lightweight one (or none at all) so allowing running on older hardware.I wouldn't worry about long term support with Bunsunlabs it will run as long as you need. You mentioned LIbre Office which is a big beast now and I think struggle with just one gig of ram although browsing and email should be fine. Unless you are prepared to be more realistic about what a 14 year old PC can do you will be disappointed.Most people use lightweight linux on old machines just for browsing it will never be a replacement for a newer PC.
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marcus
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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2020, 11:14:47 PM »

fair enough, I'm thinking it may be worth getting a couple of Gb extra ram as that does appear to be the major issue with this imac - it's just a few so not a big outlay. Then I'll try El-capitan as you originally suggested and see how i get on with that. If that doesn't work out then I'll try one or another of the linux distros. and see how it copes.

I'm not looking for new pc performance from a 14 11yr old machine- I don't expect libreoffice to load up instantly or anything - but I'm hoping it will run libreoffice and have a modern browser that works with modern websites.

As my current main computer is the XP machine running ubuntu 14 (and only supports up to 2Gb ram - currently 1.5) I just want the Imac to be still going when that one starts being rejected by websites etc. The Imac will at lease take more ram (64bit) so it should cope better with these newer OS's
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titan
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2020, 09:42:52 AM »

Have you considered a refurbished pc usually ex corporate decent spec for not much money plenty around. 
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marcus
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2020, 01:31:01 PM »

Well yes, actually, if my current ubuntu system went down that was my plan to get up & running; although i'm a bit vague as to what i could get and how much it would cost me.

But as this imac is here, i can get another 2Gb for ~3.50, if i can make it work with an up to date OS then it keeps it in use that much longer.

I'm not expecting new pc performance - i never suggested i was, and with my 2.3Mb/s 'broadband' i won't get performance with anything; i just want it to work.
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titan
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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2020, 02:08:16 PM »



I'm not expecting new pc performance - i never suggested i was,

Neither did I but you spoke about Libre office, getting old hardware running with newer OS is just part of the issue, most modern applications need a lot of ram. setting up a swap file can help.  I have an old Asus laptop circa 2007  with 4Mb ram which runs Mint, fine for browsing not much else.
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marcus
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2020, 03:21:22 PM »

Point taken, i daresay libreOffice has grown since i installed it on my ubuntu 14 system with 1.5Gb (2005? Acer), but i usually have only on application open at a time so it may still work - i guess the only way is to try it. I assumed a swapfile was a given anyway.
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titan
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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2020, 04:09:00 PM »

Swapfile is a hangover from days gone by, I haven't used one for years not needed with adequate ram. I just checked the requirement for the latest Linux version of Libre Office and is says   it needs 256Mb RAM , 512 MB RAM recommended, so what do I know !!  Sad
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