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  • Easiest, most user-friendly OS for old ACER PC

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems Linux – all distros Easiest, most user-friendly OS for old ACER PC

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      • #2378003
        WSstarvinmarvin
        AskWoody Plus

        Hello, again. Looking to find a simple, easy to use free OS for an old PC.

        Was given a 10 or 12 year-old ACER Aspire X1700 small form factor PC. It had a 32-bit version of Windows Vista which was very problematic. Used Parted Magic to secure-erase the drive. Then tried Windows 7 , but it said I needed to install a CD/DVD driver in order to proceed. All available Vista drivers from the ACER support website were loaded onto a USB flash drive, but no CD/DVD driver. Also, the only OS listed on the Acer downloads page is Vista. Also tried installing Chrome OS from Cloudready/Neverware, but it said the PC wasn’t suitable.

        ACER specs: Aspire X1700 SFF / Pentium E2200 approx. 2.4GHz (Q6600 quad-core is on hand for upgrade) / 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2-800 RAM / onboard Nvidia GT7100/Nvidia 630 chipset graphics / Sandisk 240GB SSD. BIOS revision is the original and no other BIOS version shown at ACER support website.

        This PC will be given to a retired person who wants internet, email, news videos, and probably a word processor along the lines of Wordpad. In other words, very basic and it must be easy to use. I can set up a browser to open to their email, news page, etc.

        So, what’s the simplest, easiest OS to put on here? Years ago I put Puppy Linux on a PC for someone, but that was a long time ago so my knowledge is out of date. Any suggestions?

         

      • #2378010
        anonymous
        Guest

        Maybe MX Linux for a 32-bit computer.

      • #2378035
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus
      • #2378063
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Mint Cinnamon seems to be good – I run it in a VM with 2GB RAM and it’s fine.

        cheers, Paul

      • #2378206
        anonymous
        Guest

        Puppy Linux is still in production, and now they support 64-bit processors with updated instructions how to install Puppy Linux.

        In the compatibility chart: Ubuntu’s Focal Fossa is a Long Term Support release so it is stable and it runs well on 2 core CPUs that are a decade old. Four gigabytes of memory is fine for basic computer tasks, although more is better for you and your user.

        (There are some case where a four core CPU and 8 megabytes of L2 cache will helpful to your user.)

      • #2378274
        anonymous
        Guest

        Going back to your 2nd paragraph, was the CD/DVD device an original component of the PC fitted by Acer, or a 3rd party device added later by a previous owner? If the latter, then that would explain why the Acer site does not have a driver for it. In this case can you find support software including the driver from the website of the manufacturer of the CD/DVD drive?

        You wrote “tried Windows 7 , but it said I needed to install a CD/DVD driver in order to proceed”. Was this during the W7 installation or later after installation when you tried to use the CD/DVD drive?

        If the former could you physically disconnect the CD/DVD drive cables inside the PC case, install W7 (from a USB stick) and after installation re-connect the CD/DVD drive and use the W7 device manager to try to find a driver for you?

        If the latter again use the W7 device manager to try to find a driver. (Commenters here usually recommend finding drivers from manufacturer’s sites, but as a last resort …)

        Does your client actually need a CD/DVD drive? I believe most new laptops these days do not include such drives, so presumably they are not popular. If this is the case, why not disconnect the CD/DVD cables, install W7 (from a USB stick) and leave the cables disconnected?

        Finally (and I dislike Windows 10, so I cannot believe I’m suggesting this!) it was possible to change from W7 to W10 even after the official period from mid-2015 to mid-2016 ended. If this process still works, after installing W7 (from USB stick, without CD/DVD drive connected) you could try installing W10 over the top of W7. If you then connect the CD/DVD drive, the W10 update mechanim (if configured to update drivers – possibly in Control Panel?) might find a W10 driver even though the W7 device manager didn’t?

        Although the PC is fairly old, it has a SSD not HDD, so it might be reasonably responsive running W10, particularly for an old-timer doing simple things?

         

        • #2378404
          Ascaris
          AskWoody MVP

          An optical drive (CD, DVD, write/read or read only) should not need any discrete drivers. Windows can handle them natively.

           

          Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
          Dell G3 15/3579, i7-8750H/16GB, KDE Neon
          Asus P8P67 Deluxe, i5-2500k/16GB, KDE Neon

      • #2378311
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Top 5 Best Alternative Linux Distributions for Windows Users

        Zorin OS

        ReactOS

        Elementary OS

        Kubuntu

        Linux Mint

        • #2378477
          anonymous
          Guest

          Top 5 Best Alternative Linux Distributions for Windows Users

          ReactOS

          ReactOS is NOT a Linux distro.

          C’mon Alex, if an article you’re thinking of posting has bad info in it, maybe find a better article?

          Hope this helps.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2378492
            SueW
            AskWoody Plus

            In Alex’ defense, it is pointed out in the article that ReactOS is not a Linux distro. As someone who’s very interested in Linux (Window 7 here), I found the article helpful. Thanks, Alex!

            Win 7 SP1 Home Premium 64-bit; Office 2010; Group B (SaS); Former 'Tech Weenie'
            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2378543
              anonymous
              Guest

              > it is pointed out in the article that ReactOS is not a Linux distro.

              Seriously??? Where in the article is this pointed out, please?

              If it helps, my earlier post was made after reading the following statements in the article:

              “Top 5 Best Alternative Linux Distributions for Windows Users”

              Wrong.

              “In this article, we’ve picked 5 Linux distributions that will give you the best possible Windows-esque desktop experience on Linux.”

              Wrong again.

              “Conclusion

              you can be sure that you won’t go amiss with whichever of the aforementioned distros you finally settle with.”

              Finishing strong – and still wrong.

              Hope this helps.

          • #2378607
            wavy
            AskWoody Plus

            Another quite interesting thing I had no knowledge of! Very interesting because it runs Windows programs natively. Started in 1996 and based on NT architecture.

            🍻

            Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
      • #2378366
        johnf
        AskWoody Lounger

        First off, yeah, you could probably put Windows 10 on the Acer, but it’s not going to go well. Add all the services on startup, Defender active in the background, having to keep up with bad Windows patches, and being bogged down with updates…that’s a bit much for a PC with a max of 4 gig ram. It’s going to be slow, and the user, who is only using it for web stuff, is going to tear their hair out. And there’s no assurance that W10 will work on older PC’s, you may have trouble getting drivers that work (Microsoft has a nasty habit of simply not updating drivers when they upgrade their OS).

        A lot of the choices are good, my preference for a PC of this type is Linux Lite (https://www.linuxliteos.com/index.html). Linux Lite comes highly recommended by DistroWatch.com (a user rating of 8.8 out of 10), and is designed for low powered computers and users used to Windows. Here are the specs:

        Minimum Recommended Specs:
        1Ghz processor
        768mb ram
        8gb HDD/SD
        VGA screen capable of 1024×768 resolution
        DVD drive or USB port for the ISO image

        Preferred Specs:
        1.5GHz processor+
        1024mb ram+
        20gb HDD/SSD+
        VGA, DVI or HDMI screen capable of 1366×768 resolution+
        DVD drive or USB port for the ISO image

        I’ve set up LL for a few Senior users, and I’ve had great results. It has a similar feel to Windows XP, and runs great on old equipment. It’s based on Ubuntu, as an LTS. There are easy to use menus for checking updates, backups, and new software install.

        My suggestion is to make Live USB’s of various distros, and try them out on the equipment, to see how they perform. Rufus (https://rufus.ie/en_US/) is excellent for burning live Linux iso’s from Windows, if you do this.

      • #2378407
        Ascaris
        AskWoody MVP

        I would second the suggestion of Mint Cinnamon. I’ve run it on 4GB and it ran nicely. If resources are a concern, the other two versions of Mint (Mate and Xfce) are lighter, but I don’t personally like either of them as much as Cinnamon. Opinions will vary, of course.

        I generally prefer to stay within the Ubuntu family. If there is one distro that a given program, driver, or other thing will be written for, it’s probably Ubuntu, and there are a lot of resources out there for assistance. Mint, of course, is within the Ubuntu family, with Mint 20 being based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (as is my own choice of distro, KDE Neon).

        I really don’t know how KDE Plasma (the desktop used by Neon, Kubuntu, and available as an option on many distros) would be perceived by non-techie users. It has a lot more options than the other desktops, but does that truly translate to perceived unfriendliness as GNOME would have one believe? I don’t really know.

         

         

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        Dell G3 15/3579, i7-8750H/16GB, KDE Neon
        Asus P8P67 Deluxe, i5-2500k/16GB, KDE Neon

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2378507
          johnf
          AskWoody Lounger

          Per the Linux Mint website, here are the system requirements for Uma (version 20.2, the newest version of Mint). This was listed for all three versions, Cinnamon, Mate and XFCE:

          2GB RAM (4GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
          20GB of disk space (100GB recommended).
          1024×768 resolution (on lower resolutions, press ALT to drag windows with the mouse if they don’t fit in the screen).

      • #2378508
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        If the recipient of the PC is familiar with Windows, Cinnamon gets the shout here.
        For a system of those specifications, I’d be looking at debian/ubuntu based distro. As mentioned previously, x64 Linux Mint Cinnamon would be a safe and reliable option.
        However, something to be aware of is, newer kernels can be problematic on older hardware in some cases.

        So, my advice would be to choose Linux Mint 19.1 to 19.3 Cinnamon as these versons offer the 4.15.xxx kernel for better compatibility and functionality for older tech until 2023.

        IIRC, the default installation kernel is the 5.4.xx series in Linux Mint 19.x which can easily be changed to the 4.15.xxx kernel IF problems occur post installation.

        There is also LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) which uses Cinnanom as it’s default desktop environment without Ubuntu.
        I found this version slightly heavier than the debian/ Ubuntu Cinnamon.

        Just download your preferred iso choice, validate the checksums and create a live USB flashdrive to boot from and test / play around with it without altering your existing OS at all.

        https://linuxmint.com/download_all.php

        | Quality over Quantity |
        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2378538
        DrBonzo
        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve got Mint Cinnamon 19.2 running on a 2009 Acer Aspire laptop with 4GB RAM and an Intel Centrino(!) processor. It does just fine; it’s not going to win any speed contests but for basic stuff it’s fine -email, web surfing, videos, etc.

        BTW all my Mint 19.2 installations are running the 4.15.xxx kernels which was the default kernel. Currently on 4.15.0-147. I do have the option through Update Manager of installing 5.4 kernels.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2378916
        SueW
        AskWoody Plus

        > it is pointed out in the article that ReactOS is not a Linux distro. Seriously??? Where in the article is this pointed out, please?

        My mistake.  It was pointed out in the comment section.  My apologies.

        Win 7 SP1 Home Premium 64-bit; Office 2010; Group B (SaS); Former 'Tech Weenie'
      • #2379159
        WSstarvinmarvin
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

        1. What about Elemetary OS as a possible option? One of the senior residents wanting a computer here has an iPad. I’m wondering if Elementary could be a good choice for her?

        2. Based on all your comments so far, Cinnamon looks like a viable option for other users. Is it ready to use as soon as I install it, or do I have to jump through a variety of hoops such as configuring, extra downloads, etc.?

        • #2379781
          Paul T
          AskWoody MVP

          Cinnamon is ready to go out of the blocks. You only need to connect your machine to the internet.

          cheers, Paul

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