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I've tried Ubuntu, and while enjoyed it, couldn't run more than 1 program before the computer felt slow.

Linux Mint has these different version

1) Linux Mint Gnome 2) Linux Mint XFCE 3) Linux Mint FLuxbox 4) Linux Mint Debian 5) Linux Mint KDE

So, my question is which would of the above is the fastest while still retaining good usability for my desktop computer

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I'm not sure I'm using the terms correctly, but XFCE provides the desktop for Xubuntu. Xubuntu is the Ubuntu flavor that's usually recommended for older PCs. (Unfortunately, I haven't tried Linux Mint.) –  Isxek Nov 16 '10 at 14:12
    
Showing my newbness here but what is the "desktop" and "window manager". Isn't XFCE the whole package? –  damx Nov 16 '10 at 14:18
    
Xubuntu is a little heavier than GNOME in the later versions. It's sort of a problem. :( –  Broam Nov 16 '10 at 15:44
    
Maybe the problem is the swap partition dp you have a swap partition ??? –  Louis Nov 16 '10 at 16:23
    
I tried Linux Mint XFCE & twas nice overall. When it came time to upgrade this week, accidentally installed Gnome version which was subtly slow. BTW, all these news about a new version of Linux Mint, was it only for the Gnome version? All other mint flavors are still at v9. Once tried Fluxbox briefly (or was it Openbox?) & found accessing menu via desktop mouse right click odd for usability. I may be far techier than average ppl but @ heart I just want something that works. Hence, my current situation: Trying to see which Linux Mint is the best. btw, is Fluxbox faster than XFCE? –  damx Nov 17 '10 at 6:43
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3 Answers

with a 512 MB of RAM machine you need a customized distro for your kind of machine. In my opinion the windows manager is not the only parameter to increase the effciency of your machines.

About the windows manager available per default in the Mint install Flux is pretty light. But you don't have any desktop (which is the really heavy part).

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On a slightly off topic, why is it that while running Windows XP, everything runs fairly well on the same machine (dual boot) but no matter what Linux OS I've tried, the specs seem to be a problem –  damx Nov 16 '10 at 14:15
    
XP is a decade old. Try running Windows 7 with 512 MB of ram. Most of the big Linux distros are on a 6 to 12 month release cycle and tuned for modern hardware. There are plenty of lightweight distros to suit you laptop perfectly however. You get the same modern kernel and software packages, without all the overhead. I'd suggest Crunchbang - it runs beautifully on my old laptop with only 256 MB. –  bitslave Nov 16 '10 at 14:57
    
@bitslave - Actually, you'd be surprised how well Windows 7 runs with 512MB of RAM. (Say, the ancient work machine I'm on Right. Now. Runs as well as XP ever did, just very slow to wake up if I leave it on over the weekend.) –  Shinrai Nov 16 '10 at 15:10
    
I double confirm that using a tune distro to unload what is unuseful for you usage will increase the spec of your machine, with ANY operating system. The advantages of Linux, is that you can design really what you can use, thousands of window manager etc etc ... –  Louis Nov 16 '10 at 16:30
    
Despite being "old", Windows XP is quite solid (overlooking security admittedly). There's no real reason, unless you're a gamer I suppose, to get a new machine and grab Windows 7. –  damx Nov 17 '10 at 6:18
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Mint Fluxbox should work fairly well. But it will be hard to cram Linux Mint into that small of a hard drive. I'd recommend Crunchbang Linux. It uses either Openbox or XFCE as a desktop and works well on a P3-933 with 192 mb of ram. Don't be scared by the "Alpha" label on the new release...it's a minimalist Debian squeeze.

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OP didn't say anything about hard drive capacity. –  Shinrai Nov 16 '10 at 15:11
    
He probably assumed 500mb RAM= 500mb hd. Still an odd assumption to make since you could probably find a ATA HD with a 1-80GB capacity for pocket change. –  Kyle Nov 16 '10 at 16:03
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I ran standard Ubuntu 10.04 install on a P-850 w/ 768MB of RAM. Try removing things from the standard install that you don't need. Remove all the Mono stuff - it's very very heavy.

(My new machine's an Athlon 1.1 w/ 1GB now.)

XFCE is a good window manager but Ubuntu's build is a little heavy IMO (it loads most of the GNOME libraries). Mint's build may be better. Fluxbox & Openbox are also options.

You could run FVWM as well - it's quite memory light & extraordinarily configurable (through files anyway, not ui utilities), however it looks & feels like Windows 3.1 by default.

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Would you say that XFCE, FVWM, or Fluxbox is the fastest? –  damx Nov 17 '10 at 6:13
    
I'd start with Fluxbox, IMO, then move to XFCE, then FVWM - but I listed a bunch in case you are not happy with one. The reason there are so many WMs is because everyone has different needs & tastes. –  Broam Nov 17 '10 at 20:02
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