Since the passing of Windows XP, I have been trying to find a good OS for my ThinkPad R51. Even Win 7 is a drag on my computer. Microsoft does not have a solution to this - only to "install Win 10". It would be a shame to have to junk this functional hardware just because the OS is not able to adapt to the hardware.

I have not tried any other software but have looked at Linux and Ubuntu. The current versions require (?) Physical Address Extension (PAE) which is not available on my system.

As of this time I have not tried any other OS. Just stumbling along with XP and W7. 2 Gig memory maxed out. It runs W7 but the graphics is under powered - W7 and other upgrade advisers say that the graphics is the fail point. If that was upgrade-able, it appears that it would work. I have looked at Linux OS but the current releases require the Physical Address Extension available. So?

I'm just a "stupid" user with a question who can not afford to replace my multiple R51s with 'modern' systems.

About the laptop

I know that might be more information than you want to see, but more is better?

System Information

System Manufacturer: IBM 2888M9U
Product Version: ThinkPad R51

Processor Manufacturer: GenuineIntel Processor Version: Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor
External Clock: 400 MHz
Maximum Clock Supported: 1700 MHz
Current Clock: 1700 MHz
CPU Socket: Populated

General Information

Processor Name: Intel Pentium-M 735 Original
Processor Frequency: 1700.0 MHz CPU ID: 000006D6
CPU Brand Name: Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor 1.70GHz CPU
Vendor: GenuineIntel CPU Stepping: B1
CPU Code Name: Dothan CPU
Technology: 90 nm CPU QDF: Q75Q, Q02R, Q842, QAAY, Q54T, Q92Q, Q65Q, Q63T, Q62Q, Q51T, Q72Q CPU S-Spec: SL7EP, SL7ER
CPU Thermal Design Power (TDP): 21 W
CPU Platform: mPGA479M (Micro-FCPGA/FCBGA)
Microcode Update Revision: 18

Number of CPU Cores: 1 Number of Logical CPUs: 1

Physical Address Extension Not Present

Video chipset

Video Chipset: Intel i852GM Integrated Video Chipset Codename:
Video Memory: 64 MBytes

Video Card: Intel 82852GM(E/V)/PM/855GM(E) (G)MCH - Integrated Graphics Controller [A2] [IBM]
Video Bus: PCI Video RAMDAC: Internal
Video BIOS Version: 3181 PC Dev 12/15/2003 17:04:18

  • 1
    There are some Linux distributions especially for older hardware (link goes to our Linux Disto questions, please check), see e.g. Lightweight Linux distribution for 3.2 GHz Intel Celeron with 2 GB RAM or, even better, Linux distribution for daily use on an old netbook: in this one you sure should find good candidates for your ThinkPad.
    – Izzy
    Jun 21, 2018 at 20:08
  • 1
    Thanks for the comeback. It will give me something to consider. Some of my R51s (yes I have a few - they were cheap b4 Win10 was announced) will have to retain XP or W7.for program compatibility .
    – Wyrmsworth
    Jun 22, 2018 at 2:24
  • Then remove the non-essential apps from those, leaving them dedicated to "must have" Windows apps and install Linux on the others. that way, the dedicated Windows machines ought to run more smoothly. Also, defrag, run CCleaner, etc on a regular basis; anything that boosts performance.
    – Mawg
    Sep 21, 2018 at 9:26

3 Answers 3


You should give Lubuntu a try ... Here is a quote from that link:

Lubuntu is a faster, more lightweight and energy saving, official flavour of Ubuntu using LXDE, the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment.

Lubuntu is designed to be fast and easy to use. It has lots of applications for every daily need, while keeping your system light and responsive, being it ideal not only for old computers and netbooks, but for newer computers too making them lightening fast.

  • Thanks for the comeback! You have given me options to consider. I have never worked with linux and don't know what the capabilities or limitations it has to offer. I may have to keep a couple of my R51s on Windows just for program capability. (yes, I have a few - they were cheap on ebay b4 Win10 was announced) Thanks again. Any other tricks and stumbling block fixes that might help are greatly appreciated. Like how to setup a dual boot and win/linux networking .etc
    – Wyrmsworth
    Jun 22, 2018 at 2:36
  • thanks for the comment ... are you familiar with softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/help/someone-answers ? Jun 22, 2018 at 3:47
  • @Wyrmsworth howtos and manuals/tutorials are not covered at this site. We just recommend software here.
    – Izzy
    Jun 22, 2018 at 9:28
  • You can run a virtual Windows in Linux (See my answer for a link to fixing WiFi on your laptop) to support your old applications.
    – vorear
    Jun 22, 2018 at 17:46

Consider Chromeium or CloudReady to install lightweight ChromeOS on the laptop.

For Chromium at https://www.chromium.org/chromium-os

For CloudReady at https://www.neverware.com

Also: Chromium OS run on Thinkpad R51 with working wifi

Looking into the kernel boot log, it fails at the loading stage when it wants to load ipw2200 firmware binary file. The simple way to solve this issue is to copy the needed file from Ubuntu 9.10. Copy the /lib/firmware/ipw2200-bss.fw to USBDisk:/C-ROOT/lib/firmware/


I picked up a 10" Android tablet on AliExpress recently for $65 including shipping.

Its processing speed and RAM blow your ThinkPads away.

If you had one, you could run Windows XP in a virtual machine on Android

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