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32bit Linux distro recommendations

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Looking for some recommendations for a nix distro for my atom powered netbook.

I've been trying to install a bunch of different distros but none will actually install.  Some just don't boot properly, or go through the install process then still don't boot.

FWIW I'm a total nix noob.  I've toyed briefly with a few live distros over the years but never made the effort to take it seriously. 

I figure now's as good a time as any to make the effort, and hopefully pick up a few new skills

I found this article with 8 small distros that may work.  First on the list is Puppy Linux.  I did play around with Puppy booting from a USB on an HP Laptop.  It is small and easy to configure.  The WiFi was easy to enable.  I think the HP only had a Celeron CPU so Puppy may be a good one to try first.

About eight years ago I installed Puppy "Wary" Linux on a much older laptop. It went well. At the time the Wary version was for older hardware.

Wary is "the Retro Puppy for old hardware"
-tomos (March 03, 2011, 10:47 AM)
--- End quote ---
(now gets s 404 page...)

I know this is completely unhelpful, but...

If your netbook is anything like the one I bought ~10 years ago then it was pretty much obsolete trash when it was brand new. Throw that thing in the dumpster and buy a $50-100 Raspberry Pi which is a zillion times better and can run modern 64-bit operating systems.

Seriously. Learning how to use Linux is a difficult enough endeavor. I would not recommend it on ancient hardware that was underpowered even in its prime.

If you need a GUI for Linux, I would suggest 'Pop! OS' from System76. That is a computer builder that builds Linux laptops/desktops. With a similar feel as Mac computers/laptops (with a price tag to match). However the take Ubuntu, add their "magic" to the installation .iso and you'll get a really nice Linux experience. Best of all, they offer their installation .iso to download for free.

Unfortunately, you do need a bit of horsepower. But on my second hand Lenovo laptop of 2014, Pop! OS runs really well. A far cry from Windows 8 (that was installed originally) and its migration to Windows 10. After that, the laptop was one pile of crap. Got so fed up with that and tried several Live distros. Pop! OS and Ubuntu Studio were the better ones, but Pop! OS has a slightly better workflow. Tried that for a working day, and did not feel impeded in what I could do when I wanted to.

My laptop is a Lenovo Yoga 500 (a 2-in-1 model). The only change I made was replacing the "rust churning" hard disk with a 120GB SSD I still had laying around. The CPU inside isn't so strong either, but also not as bad as an Atom. So, on your Atom machine you would likely be better off installing a GUI-less Server version of Linux, and then add the lightest GUI you can find for that version of Linux. Unfortunately, doing that throws you immediately into the deep end. Not recommended at all.

Most mini linux versions that run on your Atom machines do not receive much updates anymore. If you want to have an up-to-date kernel and supported code to go with that, you'll need a modern distro. Which in turn requires you to have a bit more computational horsepower than Atom-based systems contain. That does not mean your Atom machine is useless. Once you have enough skill with Linux, you can install Linux without a GUI, install 'webmin' or 'cockpit' (including all their requirements) and you can manage the Atom based machine using your browser on another machine in your network.

As far as I understood, many distros are phasing out 32-bit support completely. So you might get into trouble with the Atom machine anyhow.

Myself, I paid about 100 USD for my Lenovo laptop about a year ago. You might be able to get you a similar deal. I would definitely recommend going that route. Modern Linux distros have come a long, long way.


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