Bah, this is all blazingly fast hardware. I’ve been able to successfully install OpenSUSE 12.1 onto a 1.8GHz single core AMD Sempron 32-bit laptop with 512MB DDR RAM and an IDE 75GB HDD spinning at an ungodly 4200 RPM.
“It’s the bloated desktop environments that are “heavy”, in any distro. I gave up KDE long ago, too, because of bloat.”
This word is an issue with me. It’s not “bloat”; the correct term is “features”. There was a user on DistroWatch who began telling a story about a user concerned about all of the “bloat” in a distro so he begins stripping out this and that, deciding he really doesn’t need almost anything and ends up at a command line. I appended my own ending in which the user begins complaining about ASCII and all of the ASCII codes dedicated to characters he never uses! rotfl!
I tried LXDE on this laptop but found it unacceptable to give up a zillion features (not even recently-used programs in the program launcher!) all for about 50MB more free memory. The same with XFCE. One of them didn’t want to remember touchpad settings either.
KDE is quite usable on this old 512MB laptop. Yeah, you’re not going to run VirtualBox or disk encryption on it, but you can run Google Earth, KMail, clementine, Banshee, Firefox with several tabs open. It can even play 720p videowith VLC and Kaffeine… at almost 100% CPU usage, but hey… I can almost have XBMC play 720p videos at an acceptable rate with it… maybe with a bit of tweaking. Since only the open source drivers are available for the graphics, 3D performance is poor (the chip is slightly less powerful than the desktop graphics card I had in 1999) but I’ve actually used WINE and been able to start up/play through a few minutes of the original Half Life and Dungeon Keeper II on it (neither of which worked for me any more under genuine Windows!).
Warning: rant/whine follows:
The only issue is after a few minutes under battery power (never happens on AC) X periodically shoots to 100% CPU usage and leaves the system unusable for minutes at a time. This has nothing to do with 12.1 as this happened on 11.4 and 11.3 and 11.2 and Gnome and LXDE and XFCE and PCLinuxOS and Sabayon and every other distro (even Scientific Linux and Debian) I tried it on except, I believe, for Puppy, but then they do strange things and use an antiquated something for the X server. This is the Kennedy assassination and Roswell of Linux bugs. I’ve found it listed in the bug trackers of many distros but no resolution. It mostly seems to affect AMD systems with the 200M Radeon Mobility graphics, but then you see isolated cases where Intel users are complaining (perhaps a second cause?) One OpenSUSE user claimed he’d found a way to reduce it to only happening once and posted a link to patches in a bug report, which some people said worked, but then he and his OBS repository disappeared, taking the patch with them! >:( I think “they” got to him. Unbelievably, the OpenSUSE bug tracker seemed to have developers saying to fix the issue they’d need to recompile a lot of other files and they just didn’t want to bother (?!?). The bug was closed even though there was no solution, and when someone posted a comment explaining it still existed he got kind of a rude answer. I have a feeling it’s something in the kernel itself innundating X, since it seems to happen under different distros and desktops. Sorry that’s so off-topic but if I could find a solution to this I’d be very happy. I bragged to everyone I knew about receiving this laptop for free because it had grown to be unusable under Windows XP (which is very swappy so the 4200RPM HDD/512MB combo was a performance killer) and made it usable again without any upgrades or cost, but technically I can’t use it under battery power so I ended up being embarrassed for Linux. The saving grace is the laptop is so big and heavy (6.5-7 pounds) with an approximately 2 hour battery life that one really wouldn’t want to use it with the battery much anyway.