Thinking of Trying Linux Mint 16 Cinnemon on Old Systems


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Okay, I have two socket 939 machines with XP collecting dust. Nevertheless they are quite stable and more than meets the requirements to run any version of Linux.

One has four gigs of RAM and the other two and both processors are AMD. I was wondering what you think of Mint and if there is another version of Linux you would recommend for the beginner.

Keep this in mind: When it comes to Linux I am a complete NOOB. :eek: So the more user friendly the better because I am clueless.

Linux has been something I have always been curious about and wanted to give it a go. Plus I am bored. I need to learn something new and it seems a waste to leave 2 very serviceable machines go to waste.

Linux mint is the right choice for beginners. CPU spec and amount of installed RAM sounds reasonable, can you please provide a little more information about installed GPU model? And are they using an AGP slot or a new PCI-Express one?

If your GPU is an AGP based AMD/ATI card, there is a very low chance to get graphics drivers working and have a smooth desktop and video playback experience. However you can use the machine as a glorious type writer, music player or a small home server which might overheat due to bad GPU drivers.

If that's a PCI-Express based AMD/ATI card, you are lucky and you can use it for daily work and casual gaming as a bonus. For the best AMD Linux experience (Hardware accelerated FullHD video playback and serious gaming) you will need to install a RadeonHD5000+ card.

For NVIDIA cards it should just work outside of the box once you install their proprietary graphics drivers.
Thanks for your quick reply. Both cards are PCI Express:

Card #1 - Nvidia 9600GT (actually 2.0 Express)

Card #2 - ATI Radeon X800 GTO. It is a shame that it predates the Radeon 5000 series because it is one solid card. It has never given me an issue and runs great to this day. Not bad for an almost 10 year old card.

* Let me know what you think. Again, thanks.
The 9600GT is a very nice card for playing most of Steam store titles on Linux and a good candidate for a powerful home theater PC. I would put the X800 GTO on the older/weaker machine and use it as a home server or try dangerous™ stuff on it to satisfy my inner hacker needs. For this card you need to install AMD's open source drivers (to have a smooth desktop) and to keep the temperatures low you should run these commands on startup:
echo profile > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_method
echo low > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_profile

The 9600GT should be capable of running all modern Desktop Environments like KDE without any issues. You might need to be a little more kind with the X800 GTO, but it should run Cinnamon and XFCE just fine.

Once you got your feet wet with Linux Mint, start trying other Ubuntu variants, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Sabayon etc. They are like different potato chips flavors, just stick with the one which tastes better. ;)

I'm using Arch Linux on this machine and the old Pentium 3 under my desk. It's a little hard to configure and install, but once you configure it for your needs, it just keeps working happily forever.

Happy hacking!
I have one more question if you don't mind. I plan of wiping XP from the hard drive and start over with a clean install of Linux. I take it this means I will have to install all drivers for my hardware. What about the CMOS/BIOS? Will they need to be touched/tweaked?

Zorin os has a gaming version(steam) preconfigured, it provides gnome desktop,as well as an XP and a win7 look a like for easier transitioning to linux

I have one more question if you don't mind. I plan of wiping XP from the hard drive and start over with a clean install of Linux. I take it this means I will have to install all drivers for my hardware. What about the CMOS/BIOS? Will they need to be touched/tweaked?

No worries on this point,Linux will take care of all that "stuff " during install, legacy drivers for your ati card are available from the amd website
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As far as I know there is no need to change BIOS settings for Linux installation.

Regards to the drivers, Linux almost detects all hardware (audio, ethernet, etc), but there is a few exceptions to that. After base installation, you will need to install proprietary drivers for hardware like printer/scanner, (probably) wifi and GPU separately.

NVIDIA has a good track of updating their drivers to support newer versions of Linux kernel and Xorg server for their legacy hardware. However AMD don't updates their proprietary drivers for legacy hardware anymore and you should stick to their open source drivers if you don't like to keep using buggy, vulnerable and old software on your machine.

AMD open source drivers do support OpenGL 3.3, UVD and Dynamic Power Management for RadeonHD 4/5/6/7K and newer cards very good. RadeonHD 2/3K DPM support might be a little buggy. For older cards I'm not sure how good is their support, but it should be far better than closed source legacy drivers.
I've played briefly with Mint, and liked it.
No expert, to say the least, but
I'd say "just jump in and get your feet wet."
You can start with a LiveBoot CD, or do a dual-boot,
and leave xp installed for present, until you decide.
BUT, if your drives are clean, (no needed data on existing partitions)
then I would worry about it either way.
Just go ahead and play. I think you'll like what you find.
Ah B00kWyrm, so did you stick with it or move on? I decided that when I do finally sit down and have the time I will reformat the hard drive because at this point I see no need in keeping XP.

From what I am reading it seems that sound cards can be a bit wonky under Linux. Probably best to go with the on-board sound.
I've been a Mint user for years, and I'm currently using Mint 16. It is an excellent choice and I absolutely recommend it for a newbie. Don't worry about the drivers, try it first in live mode, probably everything will work out of the box.

Keep in mind, though, that support for Mint 16 ends in July. You could install 16 now and try it while you wait for version 17. It will be released some time next month, and this one will be supported for five years.