EDIT (2017-10-17): Since I originally made this post, the ArchBang project has taken off in a direction that I don't know much about. I'm not sure it still meets the requirements of the original question or keeps any of the promises that I made here.
StackExchange doesn't let me delete answers after they've been accepted, so in order to follow the spirit of ...
You could try XUbuntu or LUbuntu (http://lubuntu.net/). I installed the later on a netbook, which has the same specs (more or less) as yours.
The advantage here is that you have, again more or less, the same comfort as with Ubuntu but it is more lightweight.
The specification of the netbook I own and which runs Lubuntu:
CPU: Intel Atom 1,6 GHz
My choice would be Xubuntu, wich is basically ubuntu striped down with Xfce Desktop Environment instead of Unity.
I installed it on my wife’s Lenovo IdeaPad s10 netbook which have quite limited specifications (1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270, 1 G RAM, integrated Intel graphic card and resolution of 1024x600).
Netbook is now 4 years old and was preloaded with Windows ...
I would like to suggest a point of view different from that of the other answers (which are all good).
Although Ubuntu and Linux Mint are good choices as user-friendly distro, my wholehearted advice would be this one:
Find someone around you that is a Linux geek and is available to support you, and install the same distro and GUI as him/her.
All Linux ...
I use Arch Linux (Also check out ArchBang, which is easier to install), which is purported as a bleeding-edge distro and generally has extremely recent versions of software in its repos. It also has Gnome 3, and a wiki page for help configuring and installing.
You can install Gnome3 with pacman -S gnome. But it's recommended to read the installation ...
I'm going to have to recommend Ubuntu. It's really simple to use and install. It has an awesome community that's ready to help anyone new to the OS. It also has a great package manager (GUI of course) where you can easily install email clients, internet browsers, word processors, backup software, and much much more. It also has a really simple update manager ...
The real question is not what distribution to use, but what software to run. The same software requires the same resources no matter who packaged it. Any general-purpose distribution will do, and for a “user bellow the average” you might as well go with Ubuntu and its tightly integrated core.
The first choice to make is the desktop environment. First, make ...
When I first got my MacBook Pro at the end of last year, I thought its UI was very similar to Unity (the default desktop environment in Ubuntu). Now, Unity is not 100% like Mac, but I think it's very close in many ways, especially when compared with most other distros. The top menu bar, the dock, the Settings app, etc. Here's a screenshot:
(I took the ...
EDIT: Clementine OS is now long dead. Please disregard this answer, and use eOS or something instead.
Clementine OS aims to be as similar as possible to Mac OSX -- it boasts many of the same features, such as expose, and is visually almost the same. It comes from a now discontinued (sold) project called Pear Linux and has an interface virtually identical ...
This is fairly simple straight forward goddammn cool awesome looking distro.
It is popular enough to get community support(there is even a stack exchange site for it).
It carries looks from OSX but is lightweight and easy to use. It's built on top of ubuntu, thus uses apt.
Here's a screenshot :
Meeting your requirements:
✓ Usable for desktop and server
It has a GUI for desktop use: X-Windows, with a choice of Gnome or KDE Desktop environments; or Cinnamon, Mate or Xfce.
It is designed as an enterprise operating system with high performance on the server. The web hosting company I use, uses it, as do many others, on ...
Just about any main popular distribution should qualify, testing a few is probably the only way to find one that's compatible with the hardware and that the intended user likes.
The distribution question is important for stability (like Debian's stable/testing/unstable), hardware & support & release model (fixed, rolling), but probably secondary to ...
I can recommend the Debian NetInstall.
The goal of NetInstall is to have a minimal working linux up and running. The idea being that you then install the packages that you are missing manually.
Keep in mind that all the packages you listed are very small to begin with, so installing anything that NetInstall might be lacking is easy (given that you have a ...
The clear winner for remote access/administration is undoubtedly TightVNC. Some of the features I love are:
file transfer is inbuilt
installs as a driver
to save bandwidth you have some amazing options like
treat static windows as image & only track changes in mouse
Java viewer (for controlling Linux/Windows from Mac), see ...
CrunchBang is a Debian GNU/Linux based distribution offering a great blend of speed, style and substance. Best is, it is quite successful with limited memory and CPU.
In the office, we have a light CrunchBang setup that we use as a Media Player. Operating System + Music Player Deamon uses a total of 45 MB of RAM.
What CrunchBang offers:
Uses Openbox ...
I would recommend elementary Luna
The distribution is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (long term support) and ships with linux kernel 3.2.0.
Luna is it light and very fast (way faster than Ubuntu on which it is based)
with a focus on design and ease of use.
The official hardware requirements are :
1 GHz x86 processor
512MB of system memory (RAM)
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 ...
I guess Puppy Linux would best fit your system.
Puppy Linux is designed to be extremely lightweight. When installed to a USB flash drive, it consumes only ~100 MB of space — ~256 MB if you want the version with a full OpenOffice office suite instead of more lightweight office applications. Puppy Linux can optionally be loaded into your ...
Team Viewer runs on Linux and is free for personal/non-commercial use. It has the ability to:
Run on multiple OSes (Win, Mac, Linux, Mobile)
Route through your firewall (without setting up port forwarding)
Doesn't require tinkering
Ubuntu is built on Debian, specifically the testing packages, which are not LTS. Debian stable, on the other hand, has long-term support:
For example, the current stable version (codename jessie) was released April/May 2015 and is supported until April/May 2020.
Each package has maintainers responsible for the package and a ...
Ubuntu is your best pick if you want something basic. Luckily, Ubuntu is very nice and plays well with others, hence there are many Ubuntu 'derivatives'. Like Linux Mint and Zorin.
If you've played around in Windows and want to keep things familiar, try Zorin. It's an Ubuntu derivative that tries to continue being Windows like. After I bought a ...
Damn Small Linux
~250 MB, built-in SSH, available as a VirtualBox image to avoid installation. Everything you need ;)
There is lighter options, but what's the point at this size? (especially considering you'll have to add SSH yourself)
For desktop use, Linux Mint is the answer. It forgoes the experimental desktop environment replacements, sticking with a conventional Mac/Windows-style desktop. Based on Debian and Ubuntu. Tag line: “from freedom came elegance”.
To quote their About page:
The purpose of Linux Mint is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system ...
The cleanest possible way to do what you are looking for is to pick from your preferred Linux distro (Opensuse, Ubuntu, Fedora, and others) that has repositories for what you're looking for (ZFS, VirtualBox, VMware). Install Linux, update it, and then use its package manager (apt, yum, rpm) to download ZFS and VirtualBox.
I'm assuming you're familiar with ...
I'm a bit late to answer this question, I have used so many distros, currently xubuntu 14.04 64 bit, my laptop is hp pavillion g6 which is kinda old.
I'd rather criticize the answers given, then try to answer the question.
I don't recommend the Ubuntu family, the good thing is you get long time support release. the bad thing is the distro is bloated, even ...
I'd go with Ubuntu, in fact at home I use it as the development partition on my laptop. I've not had any issues with updates for a long time with Ubuntu, and the problems you have heard about are likely from an older version which has put people off.
Ubuntu itself isn't particularly light, but it does come with the option for adding different lightweight ...
Many OS have a server version that comes with nothing like that installed.
I skipped a number of non-relevant click next screens.
Click on the search tab, and selected Firefox
You will be then shown the minimum requirements for, in this case, firefox
and you can now install linux with the minimal firefox requirements.
However you could do ...