I have taken the first step in transforming an elderly Windows XP machine to something a little more usable. I knew I would be heading towards a Linux OS, but could not decide which one.
My choices were limited by the hardware, I have less than 512 MB RAM. So I had thought to use an older version of Ubuntu. However, I found these older versions to be somewhat limited even though they would do the task. Something more robust with a little flash was needed. XFCE has shown itself to be a wonderful system on my netbook so I gave it a try.
The install was brief, set up a breeze and it wasn't until I actually started using it that I found an issue. The panels at the top and bottom of the screen kept vanishing. This happened intermittently at first and was corrected with a reboot. As the morning progressed, the problem became more difficult and I had to jump into the console to get them running again. As frustrating as this was, I wholly blame both my elderly hardware and my lack of any research into the problem. Clearly this is the fault of the user. An ID10T error.
I decided to go an entirely different route. I went straight for an OS I have no experience with: Mint 11. Specifically I chose the LXDE 32 bit version. I was feeling lucky, so I ignored the fact that my machine did not have the required RAM. You may notice that I don't have the required RAM for XFCE either and it worked, just not as expected.
The setup for Mint 11 was even easier than XFCE and Ubuntu. I like that. So far, it has been running for almost four hours with out a problem and I am using to post now. I did add a few pieces of software: Open Office, Bluefish Editor and ran all of my updates. It was a breeze.
At this time I am rather happy with this machine as it is. I can honestly say that Linux has performed very well no matter the version. Keep in mind that I have installed Ubuntu 8 and 9, XFCE and now Mint 11 with no research or major difficulties (not counting user errors) in just a few short hours. All of them are excellent examples of Operating Systems and as long as you meet the minimum requirements I would suggest any of them.