Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – Living Life with an Ancient PC

We have all been there at one point or another.  Limping an older PC along for just a few more months until we can scrape together enough nickels to buy a new one but does that really have to happen?  With Windows XP support ending in just 2 days is it possible to keep that older PC running?  Normally I am out looking for the latest and greatest OS that can test the limits of my MonstaPuter and let me do all the things that a Geek like me would want to do but I figured today…I am going old school…and I wanted to try to build a Virtual Machine that would take me back 10 years to when machines had less than 1 GHz processors and you were lucky if it had 256 MB of RAM.   Over that decade, Windows XP has served you well and you probably added some RAM and a bigger hard drive so for today’s test I am going to assume that you did none of that and you are still using that stock system with just 256 MB of RAM.

The claim to fame of LXLE Linux is that it provides:

Full featured OS for an aging PC.

So what does this mean when dealing with a 1.2 GB download?  Well lets find out out this beast can do, when we throttle back the Oracle VirtualBox to scary low levels!  It is important to note that LXLE only provides a download in Torrent so if you don’t have a Torrent Client check here: Torrent Clients

I usually set up my VirtualBox installations with 4 GB of RAM and a 20 GB HDD but today I am scaling things way back and only giving the system 512 MB of RAM and 8 GB HDD (I initially tried to set it up with just 256 MB of RAM but after 10 minutes of waiting for the installer to load I decided to double things up).  I am actually curious if I will be driven mad by going back in time this far.

LXLE is based on Lubuntu 12.04.4 and is meant to be a complete Operating System right out of the box and once I got past the incredibly long load up time for the installer I was quite impressed with what actually came included with that 1.2 GB download.

I have downloaded a lot of full featured Linux Operating Systems over the past few years and I must say that what comes pre-installed with LXLE is impressive.  You can get right into using the system without having to mess around with installing anything else:


  • Firefox Browser
  • LinPhone VoIP Client
  • FileZilla FTP
  • Pidgin Chat Client
  • Stream Client (for gaming)
  • Claws Mail (email)


  • Dozens of Time Wasters that will keep you entertained when not Surfing the Web or doing homework


  • LibreOffice
  • Homebank (budget software)
  • FB Reader (ebook reader)
  • Document Viewer (for PDFs)


  • The Gimp
  • Shotwell
  • Font Manager

Sound & Video

  • Audacity
  • Movie Player
  • Pithos (a Pandora Client)
  • Guayadeque Media Player

So with all that software preinstalled there is not likely much room left on the 8 GB drive that was assigned right? Well, in looking at the Disk Usage Analyzer I still have 3.7 GB left to add my music, my documents and pictures but with the price of external Hard Drives dropping almost everyday I think what you get with the system should leave most people who are really just looking to extend the life of an old PC for a few more months/years is well worth it.  In direct comparison, with a Windows 7 Starter install, the 8 GB drive would be too small as it takes up a whopping 12.3 GB just for the OS and you still need to find an Office Suite, Games and all of the other comparable software that is so neatly wrapped up in this initial software.


Overall, if you are looking to extend the life of your PC or if you are a minimalist kind of person, the LXLE 12.04.4 release is definitely that.  Even at just 512 MB of RAM and limiting the single assigned CPU at 48%…the system ran smoothly, had no issues opening multiple Firefox Tabs or initializing several programs at once.




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