I'm looking for a Linux distribution with desktop interface that can run on a low-specced (read: old) PC of mine that currently runs Windows XP.

A little background:

Dad has this 10 y.o. PC that he mainly uses for playing Windows solitaires, spreadsheets and reading/writing DOCX files. He has used nothing but Windows for all of his life.

As you might very well know, XP is unsupported. This means more viruses, more risks and the inability to keep other software up to date. We want to try to salvage this PC before going for a new one.

My initial idea was to format the computer to do a clean install of a more recent Windows version, but I'm not sure it will work due to lack of support for IDE/PATA drives or other hardware compatibility issues. In any case, I can't install Dropbox to move there the files he wants to keep because they stopped supporting XP as well (and, given that the PC has been running under XP while connected to the Internet, making anything less than a full wipe formatting is out of question).

So, I want to install some compatible Linux, move data to Dropbox from there, wipe, install new Windows version while keeping my fingers crossed.

If it looks like dad can use Linux without damaging it to the point of unusability (he's infamous for having disabled the general audio or deleted shortcuts from the desktop or navbar without realizing) and he likes LibreOffice, or if the Windows installation fails, I might very well keep Linux, so it's important that it is a winuser-friendly interface.

The computer is a Pentium D 3 GHz with an Intel 82801G chipset. It is 64-bit compatible.

I have already done some research and I was looking at this list of distributions and interfaces, but if you can suggest better ones I'm all ears.


3 Answers 3


I would recommend Linux Mint XFCE.

Linux Mint is very similar to Windows and there is not that much of a learning curve.

Linux Mint XFCE works on most older hardware except for some very old Nvidia chipsets in which you should be able to use an older version of XFCE. As for IDE/pata drive support I do not know and I would think that this would mostly be dependent on your motherboard.

I think Linux Mint XFCE would most likely work for your configuration.

Linux Mint also has support for LibreOffice.


If you're new to Linux, you could try Debian with LXDE. To install, please follow the following steps:

  1. Download a Debian installation .iso. If you've wired internet while installing Debian, you'd most likely download this one. This instructions assume you're using that one.
  2. Install Win32DiskImager.
  3. Put an USB drive into your PC.
  4. Open Win32DiskImager, select the .iso from step 1, select your USB drive and press "Write".
  5. Reboot your PC, your PC will probably say something like "Press F10 to enter boot menu", press that key and select your USB drive.
  6. Select "Install".
  7. Select your language and country.
  8. When it asks for a hostname, just enter a random name for your PC.
  9. When it asks for a domain name, enter nothing.
  10. When it asks for a root password, enter nothing.
  11. When it asks for your user's name, just enter a random name for your user.
  12. When it asks for your user's password, just enter a random password for your user.
  13. When it asks for partitioning method, select "Manual".
  14. Select Windows' partition and select "Resize the partition", then select "Yes" and enter a new size for Windows' partition. Make sure there's enough space left for Debian.
  15. Select the free space, if you can't, first remove your OEM's recover partition. After that select "Automatically partition the free space" and select "All files in one partition".
  16. Select "Finish partitioning and write changes to disk" and select "Yes".
  17. When it asks for a Debian archive mirror country, select your country and press enter twice.
  18. When it asks if you want to participate in the package survey, select "No".
  19. When it asks for software, select "Debian desktop environment", "LXDE", "print server" and "standard system utilities", selecting is done with Space. When everything is selected, press Enter.
  20. When it asks if you want to install the GRUB bootloader, say "Yes" and select your PC's hard drive.
  21. It'll say the installation is completed, select "Continue" to reboot".
  22. At boot you'll see GRUB, where you can select if you want to boot Debian or Windows. Just select Debian.
  23. You'll see a login screen, just log in with the username and password you've chosen.
  24. Say no to ClipIt's question.
  25. Open a terminal by opening the start menu, then selecting "System Tools, and then selecting "LXTerminal".
  26. You can install AisleRiot (solitaires) by typing in sudo apt install aisleriot. It'll ask for your password, just enter it. It'll ask if you want to continue, just press Enter. In AisleRiot you can select the solitaire type in "Game" > "Select Game".
  27. If you want to add shortcuts to the desktop, open PCManFM (icon next to start menu), select "Applications", select a category and drag the application to your desktop.
  28. If you want to auto-login, in a terminal type sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf, press Ctrl+W, type "[SeatDefaults]", press Enter, press Arrow Down, press Enter, press Arrow Up, type "autologin-user=" and then your username, press Ctrl+X, press Y and press Enter.
  29. You've now successfully set up a dual-boot system with Debian and Windows! You'll still need to update Debian, you can do that by typing the following into a terminal: sudo apt update && sudo apt full-upgrade -y && sudo apt clean.

If you aren't new to Linux, I'd suggest setting up Openbox…


Raspberry Pi’s PIXEL is a lightweight Linux-based OS now comes as a downloadable image you can either burn to a DVD or load onto a USB drive, letting you boot directly into the PIXEL environment on any Mac or PC that has at least 512 MB of RAM and an x86 processor.

You will find more details on the same in following link: https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/22/raspberry-pis-pixel-for-pc-and-mac-breathes-new-life-into-old-computers/

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