I found an old laptop (MAXDATA ECO 4000A). What operating system should I install to make it run well? I need it for browsing the net only.

closed as primarily opinion-based by nerdwaller, Journeyman Geek, Carl B, slhck Nov 20 '13 at 14:56

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  • Anything that runs on it. – Ramhound Nov 20 '13 at 13:39
  • You should probably just leave it there. If you want to get crazy into optimization and suck away your life for a weekend: Gentoo. Otherwise, you could do a lightweight linux. – nerdwaller Nov 20 '13 at 13:43
  • Probably should have said this earlier, voting to close since this is going to mostly be opinion based outside of something that can run on the specs and requires minimal resources. – nerdwaller Nov 20 '13 at 14:15
  • Honestly, taking into account the age of the laptop, I probably would take into account the fact that if there's any hardware failure, you're not going to be able to replace the parts. You're also lowish on ram and won't have a great graphics adaptor. This is going to take some time, trial and error, and a USB key for testing various livecds to find one you can live with. – Journeyman Geek Nov 20 '13 at 14:45

The advantages in keeping your old operating system (OS) are obvious: if it works, why touch it?

The advantages in replacing it with a newer version are:

  1. Software updates; you will find support for a number of software packages which just did not exist at the time, many of which concern browser functionality.
  2. Security updates; older systems are not updated any longer, and your system is very simply a sitting duck.

The disadvantage in installing a new OS lies in the (very likely) lack of available hardware resources to support enhanced software applications. This, and economic considerations, strongly suggest you install a FOSS (Free Open Source Software) OS designed especially to run on older machines. The Web site DistroWatch.com has a number of suggestions to make: the result of a search for Linux-based OSes suitable for Old computers, available here returns 19 hits, one of which is Lubuntu mentioned by @karel. There are other possibilities, I especially like Bodhi Linux.

A key test to perform is to burn the download iso for the chosen OS to a USB stick, and boot from there. A screen with the alternative Install now/Test without installing (or some such thing) will appear, choose Test without installing. At this point make sure everything works, especially ethernet and wifi connections, but also screen/keyboard/mouse/USB ports and, if the case, cards and CD/DVD readers. The rationale for this is that drivers for old hardware cannot always be found, so you should make sure they exist for your specific pc. If they work from the live distro, you are good to go, and you may start enjoying most of the amenities available to owners of state-of-the-art pcs. Just for info, I manage a Tor network with about 4000 simultaneous connections on an 8-yr old laptop with 1.25GiB RAM.

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