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#1 2012-09-14 17:41:35

adamt222
Member
Registered: 2009-08-27
Posts: 26

Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Hi all, my apologies if this question has been posed before.  I've inherited a Dell XPS M140 laptop and I'd put its manufacture date at perhaps 2005-2006.

The machine does not have much in the way of processing power

  • 1.75ghz Pentium M

  • 2 Gig of RAM

  • Brand-new 7200 RPM HD

The machine is painfully slow with modern Linux Distros (including lightweight modern distros).
The only modern distro that had good response/speed was a minimal install of Archbang.
However, I got frustrated by pacman 'package signing errors' and after a week or so of it, I bailed.

I've been urged by trusted IT Techs at my work to use an "Old Linux Distro for Old Hardware".
Does that bear any merit? I tried Linux Mint 9 LXDE and it was a slight improvement.
Maybe the laptop is just junk, ready for the trash heap, ready for a hammer-party.

Ok, with that little rant out of the way. Would anyone care to weigh in on whether #!9 is a better
choice for my laptop, or should I try #!10 since it's newer, but not the most recent release.?.
Also, the concept of Ubuntu-based vs. Debian-based (9 vs. 10) does not matter that much to me. I'm looking for performance and response from the system and from applications.

Thanks,
Adam

Last edited by adamt222 (2012-09-14 17:44:46)


Adam
Linux user # 480776
http://counter.li.org/

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#2 2012-09-14 17:57:18

VastOne
#! Ranger
From: V-Ger
Registered: 2011-04-26
Posts: 10,163
Website

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

^ I have an 8 year old HP with half the resources you have and run both #! Waldorf and Debian Sid Netinstall with no issues at all.

I am very impressed with how fast everything runs with the exception of Flash, but that is a video card issue on anything that old.  It runs but slow slow slow...


VSIDO | Words That Build Or Destroy

We do not run from challenges, they become new innovations within VSIDO!

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#3 2012-09-14 17:58:29

vic
#! by Default
From: /realmof#!
Registered: 2009-02-13
Posts: 3,180

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

I would go for #!10, the Ubuntu version is not longer supported. If the live session works, then everything should be cool. And if you run into trouble it is much easier to get help, since there are a lot of people that still
uses #!10.


#!, all else is but a shadow.

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#4 2012-09-14 18:01:23

Neil
#! CrunchBanger
From: Paragould AR USA
Registered: 2010-05-01
Posts: 213

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Hi there Adam,

Your Dell is similarly spec'ed to the T43 ThinkPad I'm writing this on, except I have a slower HDD, and it's doing very well for my purposes running Xubuntu 12.04.  Now I have been messing with a 500MHz PIII with 578MB RAM recently, and even that is not too slow for me if I can get a good graphics driver going.

In my limited experience, the area that make a computer "feel" slow is the lack of graphics acceleration.  Get a modern distro and a good graphics setup for your GPU, and you should be good to go.

The advice to use "Old Linux Distro for Old Hardware" is bsically wrong.  I suppose there are occasions where an old distro would be OK, but not for general computing.  I would recommend the i486 version of #! Waldorf.  In a lot of ways, the new kernels are faster than the older ones.

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#5 2012-09-14 18:18:14

adamt222
Member
Registered: 2009-08-27
Posts: 26

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Thanks all for your responses thus far. I think I'll go with 10 Statler for now, then install Waldorf after its official release. No use in reaching back to 9 if it's unsupported.

For what you need that machine should be great on Statler.

Thanks VastOne

From what I'm reading here, I would estimate that my machine is under-performing based on its specs. Perhaps the machine is past its prime. Not the fault of the specs, but per chance the resources of Ram and CPU are not what they should be.

@Neil, I would have no idea on how to

get a good graphics setup for GPU

Is that a function of editing Xorg.conf?

I plan to use this computer as a portable development machine. My basic needs are a good editor, a browser, Java JDK, and the terminal.  I'm getting back into Java. I hope to (soon) start Android App Development.

Cheers,
Adam

Last edited by adamt222 (2012-09-14 18:21:58)


Adam
Linux user # 480776
http://counter.li.org/

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#6 2012-09-14 18:19:18

VastOne
#! Ranger
From: V-Ger
Registered: 2011-04-26
Posts: 10,163
Website

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

^ For what you need that machine should be great on Statler.


VSIDO | Words That Build Or Destroy

We do not run from challenges, they become new innovations within VSIDO!

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#7 2012-09-14 18:25:34

Neil
#! CrunchBanger
From: Paragould AR USA
Registered: 2010-05-01
Posts: 213

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Never mind about my GPU statement.  I was thinking ATI or nVIDIA, but your Dell has the Intel GMA 900, and shouldn't need anything extra.

BTW, I think your hardware specs are just fine, but you may have need for more power than I do.

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#8 2012-09-14 18:31:11

VastOne
#! Ranger
From: V-Ger
Registered: 2011-04-26
Posts: 10,163
Website

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

@adamt222

java jdk changes everything from one perspective.  On the dev side it may not be an issue, but my son plays minecraft (jdk/jar file) on a 8 gig Ram and Quad 965 Phenom AMD and that game is seriously cpu intensive... 55% with jet engines taking off from the fans... sad  That could be due to poorly written code..

As I said, I do not know if that creates an issue developing but I can see it becoming one trying to run a jdk app.


VSIDO | Words That Build Or Destroy

We do not run from challenges, they become new innovations within VSIDO!

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#9 2012-09-15 01:54:23

shengchieh
#! Die Hard
Registered: 2009-01-07
Posts: 616

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Go for the latest #!.  I haven't see any speed reduction.  In fact, I've seen some speed up.
Maybe others can comment on that.

Sheng-Chieh

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#10 2012-09-15 04:07:06

gurtid
#! Junkie
From: NEW ZEALAND
Registered: 2011-04-07
Posts: 378

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

i'm running a similarly spec'd laptop to yours on Waldorf (up'd to sid) - it's brilliant.


all your Base are belong to us

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#11 2012-09-15 12:10:08

adamt222
Member
Registered: 2009-08-27
Posts: 26

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Installed Statler (last night) on this laptop (the Dell XPS M140)

So far, performance is somewhat worse than expected. Unfortunately.
Main issue: Very High CPU Usage. Using Google Chrome (or other) browser maxes out the CPU.
Then CPU returns to a better percentage.  Perhaps later I will dig deeper into what
programs are running during those 100% maxouts. Surely it isn't just Google Chrome doing this.

I don't blame Statler. I've used it a few times already on other machines and it was brilliant.

On this machine, perhaps I should not have let CB-Welcome do so much of its awesome convenience installs. ? Who knows. I installed the LAMP package, and also installed rcconf so I could control (not having apache/mysql) started with every boot of the machine.

I think this machine is perhaps ready for the garbage. Chrome, with 3 tabs open, and with ad block plugins. --Cpu jumps to (current % PLUS 35/40 on average) when I go from tab to tab within Chrome.
I was able to keep a better ratio after closing the 3rd tab, which was yahoo mail.
However, submitting an HTML form (as I previewed my reply) made CPU max out and then came back down to 18%.

Waldorf testing image ran much better on this machine...I'll try a fresh install of Statler, and skip past the CB-Welcome stuff.  However, I don't think it's the added software on a new install that's causing the machine to perform so badly.

Thanks all for your advice here,
Adam


Adam
Linux user # 480776
http://counter.li.org/

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#12 2012-09-16 08:31:11

vic
#! by Default
From: /realmof#!
Registered: 2009-02-13
Posts: 3,180

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Since Waldorf ran much better, maybe you should consider to install Waldorf instead of Statler.


#!, all else is but a shadow.

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#13 2012-09-16 12:11:08

joek
#! Junkie
Registered: 2011-09-06
Posts: 497

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

FWIW, my old laptop (Dell Latitude D400, Pentium M 1.4Ghz Processor, 500MiB RAM, 40GB 5600RPM HDD) ran perfectly respectably fast with #! Statler. Perhaps, if you are confident to do so, doing a minimal install of Debian and building your system up from their would help.
(If you are really confident, or have done so before, you could try putting straight Arch on the machine.)

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#14 2012-09-16 12:24:51

adamt222
Member
Registered: 2009-08-27
Posts: 26

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Thanks vicshrike, joek

I'm installing (err, reinsalling) Waldorf Testing. Let's see how that goes.  In terms of confidence for installing Debian or Arch, I'd perhaps first try Debian before Arch.

Not knocking either of them, mind you, it's just a function of available time. I'll read up on Debian minimal installations and see if it's a better fit. Hopefully this install of Waldorf will be good. But I'm almost ready to sell this machine for parts ... it happens. When the hardware goes, the hardware goes...


Adam
Linux user # 480776
http://counter.li.org/

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#15 2012-09-17 14:31:44

adamt222
Member
Registered: 2009-08-27
Posts: 26

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Installed Waldorf Testing image. I must say I'm impressed with how fast it boots up and boots into a working desktop environment. It also responds much better than Statler on this machine.

I can now have 3 Chromium browser tabs open (none of them youtube or flash-based) and CPU % stays really low, around 10-11% or so as I type out this post.

Not sure if it matters, but this time around, I chose to let the OS completely take over the drive, did not select a separate home partition.  Also, the only CB-Welcome stuff I let it perform was the apt-get update and apt-get upgrade. I didn't yet install extra support or packages.  Over the next few days I will install printing support, java, and likely the LAMP environment.

For version control I will skip the CB-Welcome convenience, since it installs a lot of stuff I will likely not use. So, when I need git or svn I'll install them at that point in time.

Cheers,
Adam


Adam
Linux user # 480776
http://counter.li.org/

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#16 2012-09-17 15:29:15

hinto
#! Windbag
From: Cary, NC
Registered: 2010-12-08
Posts: 1,418

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

If possible, plop an SSD drive in it.  I was amazed at what one did when I put one in an 8 year old dual core Dell.
It had a max of 2gb RAM, but with SSD, everything was essentially RAM.  #! screamed on it,
-Hinto


"Sometimes I wish I hadn't taken the red pill" -Me

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#17 2012-09-19 14:10:39

joek
#! Junkie
Registered: 2011-09-06
Posts: 497

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

Well, that's good to know. I dislike it when a computer gets to the point that it must be scrapped for parts.

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#18 2012-09-19 21:51:22

adamt222
Member
Registered: 2009-08-27
Posts: 26

Re: Which might be better for an old Dell laptop? #!9 or #!10

If possible, plop an SSD drive in it.

Thanks hinto, I actually did some research on SSD capability for this machine. The machine supposedly can use a PATA SSD Drive. 

However, the feedback/opinions that followed were not highly favorable of this architecture. Again these were opinions, but they more-or-less stated that these drives didn't perform as they should for the older machines (or PATA SSD format for that matter)
and were not worth the trouble.  This is based on the hd controller, and other factors.

So, on the basis of not knowing how much longer I'd have or use the machine, I took easy way out and got a new 7200 rpm drive.


Adam
Linux user # 480776
http://counter.li.org/

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