Help getting the most out of a really, really crappy laptop.
By - SnooPets20
My laptop is a 10 years old Thinkpad with 4GB of RAM.
I run Debian with i3. No problems.
I have a 15 year Dell Latitude that runs Debian like a champ. It needed another 2GB of RAM but that's cheap and easy. It plays music, runs a 3d printer, and connects to the security cameras so I can tell between voices outside versus the ones in my head. Performance is snappy enough out of the Core2Duo CPU.
Spoiled kids these days
Back in my day, we used to walk 10 miles to school, in the snow, uphill both ways, and we liked it...
Err, I mean run Full KDE on an Athlon 2500 with 1GB of RAM and it was fine.
Actually I ran a lot of linux on a Celeron 450Mhz with 256Mb of ram - worked just fine.
There's an endless stream of people concerned about optimizing every last CPU cycle, and putting in so much extra effort to do so, when the CPUs today are so fast compared to the bad old days. Optimizing for CPU cycles was important when your 8088 ran at 2Mhz.
You're also not going to discover some magical switch to the compiler that only you know about that makes your code run 2x everyone else.
Just pick a distro that doesn't have a bunch of extra crap installed by default, and you'll be good to go on any hardware that still boots. And if it isn't, just turn off the animation effects in your window manager - back in the old days, the windows animated you when you maximized or minimized them, and we liked it that way, and we got lots of actual work done!
\[grumble grumble\] and stay off my grass, stupid kids!
yeah, I've been getting solid performance with i3 as well. For what it's worth, if the objection to i3 is that it's tiling, you can make windows default to floating with
for_window [class="[.]*"] floating enable
The tiling is *why* I use i3, but if you're just looking for a super-light more typical wm this is a sort of hack that might get you there.
I'm 100% sure that any distro with LXQT will be fine. Arch-based has the best performance in my experience, fedora the worst. Even lubuntu would probably be fine
Edit: I have a 4gb/celeron laptop and it does fine with i3 and KDE plasma. Qt-based apps are your friend.
4gb and celeron can prob take kde tonits limits. Arch is super
You're totally overreacting.
The laptop is old, yes, but not the worst thing ever. You can definitely run any distro with systemd, and also something like xfce. Hell, even if you think xfce is too much you can go for something like LXDE. Have you considered Lubuntu? Otherwise Arch with LXDE should be good if you prefer an arch based distro.
I bet my ass there's no real difference between non systemd and systemd and XFCE and LXDE. 4GB of ram and a dual core should be more than enough.
LXDE, my bad.
Dunno, I tried ArchCraft before this and it was kinda sluggish (plus it couldn't even finish installing). Artix with IceWM seems to be doing much better.
Arch with lxqt or bspwm will run on just about anything, in my experience. Systemd definitely isn't the bottleneck here. Hell even KDE runs fine on my old core duo laptop (just gotta turn off animations, but that's easy)
Wait, hold on a sec - you have a 9 year old cousin who really enjoys Linux???
Can we talk about how that happens? Cause I've got a nine year old boy who I would love if he enjoyed Linux :-)
9 year old sister*, and that happens when you just show him. Just play around with it in front of him, kids are naturally atracted to new stuff (resulsts may vary if the kid in question isn't attracted to comptuers in the first place).
my first linux experience i was 10, linux lite was the distro. i just wanted to try something new on a computer we were given, three years later and i have memorized how to install arch oh yeah i use arch, btw. but seriously now i love it, hate windows, i install linux (arch is favorite) on pretty much all hardware i have.
I've heard good things about Peppermint OS, which is a fusion of xfce and lxde, and is pretty light.
I used a Core 2 Duo with 4GB of RAM for several months as my main work machine up until this year. Manjaro and i3wm kept things really lean.
Manjaro is a fav. Op ought to run manjaro
Nope, hate the 2 week delay on packages.
IMHO, that just makes it a bit more stable.
Plus, I'm used to waiting two YEARS to get new packages, so two weeks (or even two months, honestly) doesn't bother me all that much.
I have an old dual core 32bit with 3gb of ram. It runs debian with xfce just fine. (tho I've got quite the stipped down web experience)
It has some simple games. Havent tried anything like minecraft on it. but it ran world of warcraft back before I dropped linux on it.
Oh so I use a system identical . $200 new. Manjaro runs well, no stutters
Just as you’d expect,, not much room to multitask (prob not screen real estate either/ but def be using safari or Firefox with add blockers while keeping tabs minimal).
I was main ranking wownclassic release through molten core on thatbPOS using leagues wine btw. Had to turn stuff down especially with 40 mans but , hey lol main tanked.
Linux is efficient yes, the others are not efficient- they’re extremely not efficient lol. Zfce is like Windows 98 though man. Kde is beautiful as OS X and still superb. Gnome sucks, in my opinion.
Gnome 2 was really nice, just not sure that Gnome 3/Unity was an improvement...
MATE is great for that. It's a Gnome2 fork.
True, but I'm not sure what ships with it by default other than Linux Mint. You can always add it, but changing the DE when you already have one doesn't always go smoothly.
I know Manjaro has a MATE edition.
He’s right, def worth looking into. They actively are supporting that one.
I think,, don’t count me in this there is either gnome devs with manjaro even. If not, it shouldn’t be difficult to customize it that way at all, but still to the point quicker than blank arch. I know I right off the bat use a gnome app launcher, always liked that part of gnome, and configure it to run app images, etc so it’s such low effort to run installation built for all the big distros
I’m just not a big fan of Gnome- it is so much less customizable and lacks the aesthetic surplus default with KDE… all while idling twice the resources… never made sense to me. I actually veered away from plasma initially figuring it would be resource heavy - at least more so long than Linux mint cinnamon/gnome variant?
Pac-Mac and the Staunton drop down terminal, along with the only installer than hasn’t ever failed me had me grounded once landing on Manjaro though. I often use very low spec systems and flip around different OS which is more incentive but the above as well as the community support with manjaro made it my choice.
I heard some bad things of gnome 3! Didn’t think it would get worse.
XFCE should be fine on that hardware. It's not quite as lightweight as it used to be, but it's not Gnome/KDE.
I love XFCE, it's a full desktop environment, but in its stock configuration it's basically a window manager with a few extras built in. If I'm not running a window manager I'm usually running XFCE.
You seem like you actually have a very limited understanding of Linux. I would highly recommended installing Arch + a WM and reading the Arch wiki thoroughly before you do. The reason why some people recommend systemD is not because it is slow, but because they have philosophical differences with it. From a performance standpoint, it doesn't matter.
This point really gets me.
>Now, the system is functional, but, as expected, lacks a lot of basic features, such as being able to change the background, basic utilities and such. A DE like XFCE would bring all of that, but I don't want to install something like that on this weak system.
When you install a WM, you are supposed to take care of the rest. You would use Nitrogen or Feh to set the background and find other utilities by yourself. Plus, you do not have to use LightDM at all. I just use startx, no login manager.
Lmfao "you seem like you have a very limited understanding of Linux" "let's install arch" 😂😂😂 oooookay
arch isnt hard to install imo, especially if you have the installation guide open
I know it was just really funny that those 2 sentences went back to back lol
Yes, I actually used feh to set the background, but this is for a **9 year old**. I would like to have as much GUI as possible without compromising performance.
> but this is for a 9 year old.
What does this even mean? Setting a wallpaper with feh takes zero to none system resources. I have a Thinkpad x220 and when I boot up my machine, I still limit the cpu to 2Ghz. I have zero issues with performance.
It wasn't about resources, it was about usability. I don't expect her to punch commands into the terminal (yet)
Oh, my bad. Thought you meant 9 year old laptop. lmao
I actually agreed with the sentiment anyway. 9 year old will probably figure it out better than OP. don't baby them. that's how you get computer illiterate adults.
Hey it teaches him responsibility. Eevutime he wants to run sudo…
With great power, comes great responsibility
I installed it on a 13 year old single core celeron processor and my 3 year old can handle opening Firefox and clicking boom arks and games. She loves it.
I ran Lubuntu with similar spec,
You've likely got plenty of power to actually just run a DE if you go with a really light one. Stop over thinking it and just try a few. 4GB of ram is \*plenty\* for many DEs and whatever CPU you have can likely manage a light DE with minimal multi tasking. I'm frankly not certain why you didn't try that before resorting to one of the least user friendly ways to use a computer whilst rejecting other suggestions based on needing ease of use. If you're dead set on sticking with your current setup, I hope you find the help you need (though I'm not sure it's out there, as you're basically looking for all the benefits of a DE, pre-made like a DE, but without using a DE) but my best advice would be to actually consider many of the suggestions you dismissed outright, as they'll likely lead to the best experience for your little sister, which is all that matters, not your personal computing preferences.
If you really want to squeeze all the performance you can out of it, you can use Gentoo. Compiling may take a while though.
I'm with the others who are saying that you might be overthinking and over-complicating this. You want something simple for a young person starting out in Linux.
Think about it this way. If someone is learning to read, you give them an easy book, not a 12-volume encyclopædia.
In the same way, give your sister something simple. If she becomes interested in Linux and computers, she'll start messing around, and end up installing whatever she wants. (Don't underestimate her just because she's 9. Many young people are highly competent in computers.) By starting your sister on something simple, she'll have the security of being able to learn at her own pace.
On the other hand, if she just wants to use the system, the simpler the better!
**So, for my recommendation…**
I always go for an Ubuntu derivative, because:
1. Ubuntu is specifically designed to be simple ("for humans", as Canonical used to say).
2. Ubuntu (and its derivatives) have wonderful community support — a [friendly forum](https://ubuntuforums.org/) and a more formal [Q&A site](https://askubuntu.com/).
That's why there are so many Ubuntu derivatives!
The lightest *official* Ubuntu derivative is [Lubuntu](https://lubuntu.me/), which has always served me well on old computers. It's easy to use and easy to understand. If even Lubuntu is too heavy (I'll be seriously surprised if it is), go for an even lighter, albeit unofficial, Ubuntu derivative, [Bodhi](https://www.bodhilinux.com/). But of course there's a price to pay for going too light.
**Tip № 1**
You don't have to install a distro to be able to test it. Install [Ventoy](https://www.ventoy.net/) on a USB stick, then download a couple of ISOs onto the stick. You can boot up from different distros to see how well they work, without touching your hard drive.
Bear in mind that a distro runs a little slower from a USB stick than it would from a hard drive, especially when running something large like LibreOffice or GIMP, but you'll get a good idea if it will work well.
Test Lubuntu first, because it's likely to work well, and, as I said, it's easy for a beginner, and has great community support.
**Tip № 2**
When you [download Lubuntu](https://lubuntu.me/), be sure to use the link that I've given you to the official site. There is an unofficial, badly outdated and unverified site that often comes at the top of the internet searches, and you don't want to catch something from there!
Good luck to both you and your sister!
Thanks, I'll check out Lubuntu, it's just that I would *really* like to have something Arch based, the AUR is too good to miss out on.
It's your decision, but remember: This is for your sister, so it's not what *you* want. It's what *she* needs. Arch is a great distro, but it's not for beginners. It's too complex even for me, and I've been into Linux for well over a decade.
I used lubuntu, it used 1 gb of ram which I find too much for an lxqt distro, even another ubuntu based distro like elementary os runs on 350 mb of ram if you install lxde and delete the pantheon desktop.
1Gb RAM sounds a bit much, certainly more than I used (I ran Lubuntu on 4Gb for a long time).
Lubuntu can run in as little as 1Gb, so I wonder if there was something unusual in your setup?
I don't think there is, I do not forget to update, I only installed Minecraft, Nvidia Drivers and OBS, I did not made any experiment on the system. A simple Desktop Environment + Artix will be light-weight and good enough for a 9 year old kid in my opinion.
+1 for Lubuntu. I ran it on a Dell Latitude 2120 (Atom N550 dual-core, 2GB RAM) as my daily driver a few years ago. It certainly wasn’t the fastest sled on the hill, but was a reliable daily driver. Just don’t keep too many tabs open in your browser.
Lately, I’ve been running Ubuntu MATE on that same Latitude, and it’s still perfectly usable if you aren’t in a hurry.
I have had machines much worse than this and I have run xfce without any issues.
Any lxqt or xfce based distro will do.
If your system uses nand flash or emmc storage (given the atom processor my best guess is that the 'laptop' is just a cheap windows tablet assembled in a laptop form factor) you can go for barebones KDE like fedora or manjaro.
I'd personally put Linux Mint with XFCE on it and call it done. It works well on old/slow hardware and will be relatively easy to use for a 9 year old new to Linux.
Frankly, anything Arch-based is a poor choice for a young beginner. It's likely to frustrate them and drive them away from Linux all-together.
When she gets good at using and tweaking the computer, then challenge her with putting Arch on herself... when she's ready.
Void Linux with a tiling window manager if you're feeling adventurous. Void uses runit, and there is a musl libc release if you want an even smaller footprint.
Linux mint xfce... Or Bunsen labs..trust me it'll be fine I used it on my 2007 Asus netbook 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z520 CPU
1GB RAM. If it will run on that it'll run on anything
Easy Peasy (made for netbooks, good for kids) , Zorin lite , android x86 (specifically prime os ) if you do android x86 she will have all the stuff of an Android and you can just install andronix and run Linux inside of android so she has both
I thought that:
For she any lubuntu could be great.
For you maybe any alpine linux with gnome, it use musl(muscle).
lol i've run far worse laptops on xfce just fine, you're probably overthinking it
mindustry runs like shit on linux from what i remember, never played openrct2
In general running any game through proton/wine is going to be somewhat miserable on a laptop, expect a boiling hot computer, but i managed to play some games just fine with it
I also managed to get minecraft running just fine, if she doesn't care about modding & she keeps the view distance down it's perfectly playable - you do get some stutters, but i get some stutters on my current desktop lol
I even used to run MC on a shitty netbook with 512mb ram! Wasn't super smooth but I enjoyed it at the time.
> mindustry runs like shit on linux from what i remember
> In general running any game through proton/wine is going to be somewhat miserable on a laptop, expect a boiling hot computer
Can't relate either.
i mean if proton games are running fine, you definitely don't need to worry about systemd perf lol
On my notebook I mean, which is a Thinkpad T430, much powerful than this. And not, it doesn't overheat, and Mindustry runs perfectly fine. I'll need to try on this one.
>I even used to run MC on a shitty netbook with 512mb ram!
How did you do it? I tried but the graphics glitched and I got half of the window of Minecraft black. (2gb ram)
Not exactly helpful to your situation but I had to increase my ram and battery so my old laptop will do simple stuff, I'm about to try bodhi Linux on it but I'm thinking of installing a SSD(2010 Mac)
Hopefully a idea to help you?
JWM will let you do pretty much everything you need, but at way less RAM than IceWM.
If you install AntiX, it comes with JWM preconfigured, and you can actually just make a few clicks to change appearance, background wallpaper, that kind of thing. And AntiX doesn't use systemd, either.
Seriously, give JWM a try, and I'd really recommend you do so via AnitX. It's great for smaller computers (and no, I don't work for them, I'm just a fan).
Yes I use antix for another really slow PC with an Athlon XP 2500+, runs great! But I want arch based in this case.
I use debian with lxqt desktop. It takes only 370-400 Mb ram. So, the system itself doesn't take too much memory, but gives you a lot of usability. Your economy is not rational. Web-browser eats the most part of memory. What is 400 Mb? It is just firefox with a couple of opened tabs. Just use debian or any other distro with lxqt. And clear PageCache when free memory level is low. You can write a script for it and run it sometimes.
I have a very obscure tablet with Intel baytrail on it and only 1 gig of ram and I have Ubuntu installed on it and its great for basic use.
I think you can afford a lot easier of a distro without compromising your performance. I ran Xubuntu 20.04 on a single core mobile celeron with 2GB RAM, it booted fine and even ran YouTube at 720p with Firefox. The DE was smooth, even if Web browsing was less so. Point being, you have a lot more resources at your disposal here than the machine in my example so I think you can afford a similar setup. XFCE or LXDE are perfectly usable, and neither would have a noticeable impact on gaming experience. I don't even think the difference would be measurable within margin of error compared to the setup you've described.
Not to mention, you said this is for a 9 year old. IMO it makes sense to install a ready-to-go distribution and let them tweak it. Makes your life a lot easier when they accidentally format the drive or otherwise irreparably break the install if you can just run the distro installer again and get back to how it was with little or possibly zero configuration.
If you really need a lightweight OS, you can try Void (which I already use). I totally recommend it because of fast updates, low ram usage, minimal x session etc.. Also my laptop is crappy but it runs fine with void. This is just my opinion.
The reason he would prefer artix instead of void is connection to AUR. Void is also a nice distro, I used artix runit and it was the same ram and cpu usage, so there is not much difference actually.
So you know there is a VUR. It's limited, but it gets the job done.
Well, fair enough, but still I think there is no reason to leave Artix, which gets nearly the same hardware usage, and actually runs using less ram with lxqt than void, and make a clear installation with void. And also I saw there is some GRUB bug that void doesn't installs GRUB, I can still access to void with a GRUB Live USB (I dont remember what was it exactly called), but I didn't knew how to fix it and didn't found anything about it in the docs. So when there is the big Arch Wiki, AUR, and a simpler graphical installation, I prefer Artix.
>So when there is the big Arch Wiki, AUR, and a simpler graphical installation, I prefer Artix.
You've got a point there, but as far as I can see the Void installation is the most straightforward of all distros. Moreover, parts of ArchWiki also apply to Void and also the VUR I mentioned earlier. You prefer Artix, I prefer Void. That's why distros are there, to fulfill the perfect user experience. I don't want to argue anymore because this is getting out of topic.
I feel like you're doing a bit much in terms of setup. As others said, you'll be fine with a majority of distros, even flashy ones. If you're still set on doing something custom, then you might just use full XFCE with some basic setup/theming, as that uses ~300MB idle on my Void install. The reason I suggest XFCE is that it comes fully configured to support new hardware and sound devices without setup, so should she want to plug headphones in or setup Bluetooth, it will be much easier (and often automatic) to do so.
Also, in preparation for things breaking, you might make an image that you can flash if she somehow breaks the system entirely (kids aren't the most intelligent with the terminal).
Finally, consider installing some package manager/"app store" so she can install applications that she may need in the future. I've done the same setup for some of my family members, and what I've described has worked very well for them, both young and old. Best of luck!
I have an Intel Atom with 1Gb of RAM running with Debian XFCE, every distro should be fine, maybe Arch or another lightweight distro is advisable since they come along with very few unused garbage
Wow.... Here I am still flogging a Acer Aspire One with 2gb max. It's quite nice for playing music, or using in the kitchen or garage to look things up like recipes or manuals. Runs 32bit Mint, slow but reliable.
I am sure xfce will run very nice on your system. Artix is also a nice distro, I used it for a while. Do not think like my computer can not handle it, I am sure it can, and also that 9 year old probably easily understand how to use xfce. Also just an advice, if that kid wants to play games like minecraft which is based on cpu, you will not be able to play it, but you can still use optimization modpacks like Fabuluosly Optimized, which just makes your fps x5 increase. But I guess your pc will not run it anyways, so there is a launcher that launches minecraft pocket edition on linux and mac, it is well optimized and can run on 30 fps in an old laptop too (like it does in a really really crappy and cheap tablet). Here the link if you need it (the project was discountinued but that fork supports the latest version): https://github.com/ChristopherHX/linux-packaging-scripts/releases . There is an AppImage which can run on every linux distro with a single command (it would be a good idea to create a launcher file that executes the command and launches the game so that 9 year old also can launch the game).
> minecraft which is based on cpu, you will not be able to play it,
I actually managed to make it run at a decent framerate. Sodium is nuts.
Yeah, sodium is really good, Fabulously Optimized also take its power from sodium.
To be able to change the background with standalone window managers, you'll need something like nitrogen or feh. I use nitrogen.
You merely open it (it has a gui), you add a folder with wallpapers, choose one and you are golden. To make this persistent (otherwise you'd lose your wallpaper after a restart) you need to autostart nitrogen with the --restore command. So merely add `nitrogen --restore` to an autostart script (pretty sure lightdm included one) and you'll get your wallpaper back.
Other utilities I recommend for a window manager:
File manager: PCManFM or Thunar. Ranger is great as well if you want to slowly accustom her to the terminal..
Media player: mpv.
Some programs will require password authentication and you won't be able to see the password prompt unless you start them from the terminal. A solution to that is using an authentication agent like lxsession. That needs to be autostarted as well.
If you want to make the system more responsive, you can use the Zen Kernel. More extreme measures include building a custom kernel and removing Pulseaudio/Pipewire to reduce potential overhead, but honestly like everyone else said you don't really need any of this.
LOL. I have a much worse laptop and Win10 works fine aside from boot time which is xompletely fixable by SSD.
Try Xubuntu and Ubuntu Mate, they should run well on that system, i have a simiar system that runs them well
Dude I daily drive a system like that, it's my laptop from high school, always used with arch and gnome, it use 500MB in idle, and if it doesn't feel snappy just install a cheap SSD
If my laptop runs gnome with no issue I bet that your can run XFCE or even KDE
Systemd isn't nearly as slow as the haters would have you believe. Yes it's a little bloated, but that bloat really only affects install size rather than overall performance. Most of the extra functionalities lay dormant unless you actively enable it. I have an old acer with 4gb of ram and I run arch with openbox on it. I load openbox through xinit so I don't even need a display manager and it runs fast enough for what I use it for.
Have not used IceWM extensively, but you might also take a look at the *box WM family. OpenBox (for instance) is relatively easy to use and set up, is minimalist and light on resources, looks elegant, and, with some configuration and setup, makes it comparatively easy to do basic configuration things.
Might or might not be a better choice, depending on you and the nine-year-old sister.
I remember last year one of my clients gave me a really really shitty tower that had an atom cpu and I don't remember the RAM. I remember installing elementary OS on it and it was barely functioning. Installed peppermint linux on it and it ran very smoothly. Ended up throwing it away because I don't have space for a tower in my house. lol
FWIW I use XFCE on an Atom with 4G and it runs reasonably well provided I don't have too many browser tabs open at once.
There's a lot of good suggestions here, but seriously give your sister a desktop. The ram can handle it. If she's interested teach her commands, but otherwise make life easy.
As far as gaming, you're just going to have find out. Some things might be able to run on low or medium settings.
>just need all the performance I can squeeze out of this.
Thats an interesting argument. How does systemd affect performance?
>A DE like XFCE would bring all of that, but I don't want to install something like that on this weak system
Here's a funny thing: I got a laptop from 2008 with 2GB ram and C2D cpu and intel 3000 something as a gpu plug. I have used it multiple times for testing various aspects of KDE. It runs fine unless I start firefox.
>Look, I'm fully aware of the limitations here and I don't expect much, but hey, I guess light games like Mindustry, OpenRCT2, and maybe some older games with Proton might work fine, right?
Any topic suggestions? Like which genre at least.
Wesnoth is *amazing*. teeworld is pretty good. warmux is cool.
wesnoth looks interesting, thanks!!
I would put Lubuntu on it, if that is too slow you have to question IMO it is worth the effort.
I have a few old systems, I also have a Intel NUC with a light end Celeron CPU. Most of these systems are usable for most tasks, the thing they will generally struggle with is video playback, due to the fact most modern codecs make use of onboard CPU encoding/decoding. Since older or lower spec CPUs lack these capabilities they often have a lot of speed issues playing video. The NUC is the only one of my low spec systems that can play video well, but it struggles to do a screen recording of video playback, which requires its CPU to both encode and decode at the same time.
i'd avoid the systemd distros if ram is a issue
Seriously, I run mint 20 on an Acer Aspire One ZG5, 2008. 1.5 gb ram, 500gb SSD, runs fine, no slow downs and chromium/web stuff works great
AntiX comes with IceWM, and no systemd.
Or try something with LXDE.
An atom with 4gb ram. That is a rarity! Most Atom laptops maxed out at 2gb.
You need to know exactly what processor you have. If it is an Atom and 32bit only that narrows your choice to Debian or MX Linux. Both are Debian based MX adds some useful extras.
If you have a 64bit processor, you have many more choices, but MX Linux is a good one.
With a bit of pruning it might give you usable performance.
Also try [zorin os lite](https://zorinos.com) I got it to working fine out of the box on 2 gigs of ram
Both are Debian based distro's.
I prefer arch based, and I don't want to install another system, I'm fine with Artix I just want to configure it better.
No offense but there's no reason to give an arch based install to a 9 year old. You want ease of use and I hate to be the bearer of bad news but arch just isn't that.
Arch is easy to use stop spreading BS. After installation, it behaves like any other distro.
Have fun. It's not like I've been using arch longer than the 9 year old who's getting this computer has been alive
Ps. It's my main distribution alongside OpenSUSE. Don't tell me what I do and don't know about it, you sound mad that i disagreed that you should give an arch based install (like Manjaro) to a 9 year old and in a separate comment wanted something easy to use.
Using feh to set background while using a window manager is far from "easy to use" granted that's not anything to do with arch itself.
You're setting a 9 year old up for failure.
And guess how you learn, failure. Please explain why Arch is harder if you're so knowledgable. Installation is CLI based? Well, I'm taking care of that so no big deal. It breaks often? Can't really relate tbh, Arch never broke on me. What else?
Arch doesn't break often. Arch based distros that hold shit for no reason break often (Manjaro)
There will always be something she will need that is just that much less easy to do on arch. She will inevitably need samba to browse network computers, that's WAY harder to setup on arch vs say fedora or OpenSUSE where it's there out of the box. Can you or I do it? Absolutely. A 9 year old? Eh... Probably.
They buy a new printer, etcetera. Yes every distro has different challenges and different ways to do things but the point is a distribution that everyone will say is "bloated" is simply a distribution that has the tools you need before you realize you need them.and for a lot of people that's great!
Like i said i run Zorin on one of my computers for that exact reason
I guess the main point is, does he or she WANT to learn it? Because if so then sure arch is fine but if not you're just projecting your needs and wants onto him or her.
I love Arch, but I would never push it on someone where the use case doesn't fit.
What kind of 9 year old wants to set up samba to connect t network computers? And actually, I've found Arch to be much simpler in many cases due to the AUR.
Ubuntu based distros need to add a PPA, and there's not that much software in the official repos in the first place so adding PPAs is an often occurence. You need to do so to install Lutris for instance. Arch tho? Just install it like any other package from AUR/Community repo. It's easier.
> What kind of 9 year old wants to set up samba to connect t network computers?
No nine-year-olds WANT TO set up Samba.
Plenty of them are going to want to print on networked computers at school, though, and then they're going to HAVE TO, and it's harder under Arch than under, say, Ubuntu.
HHAHAHAHA no. Computers on her school don't even have internet, let alone a printer, and taking one to school? Come on, ain't gonna happen. She'll never need to do anything like that.
In that case try installing vanilla arch, with the necessary config
the advantage of the puppies are RAM boot, antiX/MX and a few others are also setup for that
depending on your specific CPU/RAM/disk/OS/software combo that may boost (some) things up
antiX and [https://debiandog.github.io/doglinux/zz04fossadog.html](https://debiandog.github.io/doglinux/zz04fossadog.html) should be easy to take for a test spin (MX is bloated for your 4GB RAM)
there are some arch based derivatives like this WeeDog one-dev-project, totally barebone build-your-own: [https://forum.puppylinux.com/viewforum.php?f=130](https://forum.puppylinux.com/viewforum.php?f=130)
Well, what do you want to use it for? If you want a desktop, but even the most lightweight of linux distributions are too slow, then you are reaching the limits of the hardware. You could still use it as a home server for pihole and freenas or something.
The systemd bit is complete nonsense. If anything, it'll probably run better, because systemd is very event oriented and doesn't need to keep stuff running just in case it happens to be needed.
4GB is a perfectly workable amount of RAM even for modern usage.
What you really want is to put a decent SSD into it. Nothing out of the ordinary, just avoid pulling out one of the earliest examples out of the junk drawer. It probably has a replaceable SATA hard disk. Get a SATA SSD instead.
Even the earliest examples of SSDs were light years faster than spinning rust, especially the slow 5400rpm (or slower) laptop variety - they just didn't last very long.
I remember the first time I saw linux boot from an SSD - one someone gave me for free because it was close to "end of life" - I was blown away at how fast the boot time was! I went and got small SSDs to use as OS drives for all my machines - instant upgrade!
Yes, but some had very significant reliability flaws, and some had horrible write performance that could get the system stuck for a noticeable amount of time.
Today this is long forgotten, but if you're dealing with old, deemed mostly useless hardware, it's not out of the question that one might dig one of those up from the pile.