Looking for a lightweight Linux distro

Q I have got a laptop computer and want to run Linux on it. At the moment it has Red Hat 8 but it is so slow. These are the laptop's specs:

Processor Intel Pentium 133
Memory 48MB
Video 2MB controller chip C&T
HIQV32 (CT65550)
Hard drive size 2.02 GB

Which Linux would go best?

A I am not surprised to hear that Red Hat ran slowly on this machine. Red Hat uses the Gnome desktop, which is quite resource-intensive. I imagine it would run as smoothly as frozen treacle in 48MB of RAM. You need a lightweight distro specifically targeted at older hardware. Vector Linux would be a reasonable choice. It is based on Slackware, which is popular for lower-end hardware, and comes with the IceWM desktop. While this is a lot less demanding than Gnome or its equally memory-hungry alternative, KDE, it still boasts a good range of useful features. For better performance, but slightly fewer features, FluxBox may be a more suitable choice. You get to pick which window manager you want during installation.

Although suitable for older hardware, Vector Linux is not old software. The latest release, 5.1, is only a couple of weeks old at the time of writing. You can get Vector Linux from www.vectorlinux.com. Make sure you download the 5.1 release and not the 5.0 SOHO version: that uses KDE, and would run about as slowly as Red Hat on your laptop. If you can add more memory to this system, I would strongly advise you to do so. Linux works best when it has plenty of elbow room, so doubling the memory would make a lot more difference than a faster processor. Your hard drive size is also fairly limited, especially as you will need some swap space; so do not install anything more than you need. Just the core software and desktop should be enough to get you going.

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