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My son was cleaning out his room and found my eeePC he borrowed a long time ago :)

So I am trying to get it to do something useful, and found it runs on lUbuntu 18.04 LTS

This model was originally made to run Windows I think, as it has the typical Windows keys. But it is not a very powerful system. Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60 GHz. HDD 160G. Ram 1G.

I installed zsh, and most things run.

But I would like to upgrade lUbuntu to a newer version if possible. Or move to Debian maybe. But I can't find information on compatibility of newer versions with this Atom-based computer (or I don't google good enough)

Does anyone have any information for me?

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    I'm not sure whether this question is or its answers would be retro enough, therefore just a comment. You might want to ask this on another StackExchange site. -- Anyway, I have a thin client (Fujitsu FUTRO s550-2) with single-core processor, 16 GB CF disk, 1 GB RAM running the current version of Xubuntu since several years. Yes, it is slow. Never try to launch a full-blown browser like Firefox. -- On another oldtimer, a Toshiba Satellite SM30, I installed Void Linux because of the 32-bit processor and only 512 MB RAM. So, yes, there are distributions supporting such old machines. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 13:04
  • :) well, if this isn't retro, I am sorry. Still, thanks for your answer!
    – ABM K
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 14:48
  • Yeah, it is just the hardware, which is kind of retro. But you ask about usable operating systems of today, which is clearly not retro. We'll see what the others think. If it seems to be on-topic, one of us will be glad to write an actual answer. -- In the meantime, you might want to try to upgrade the installed Lubuntu. Please be aware that Canonical switched from LXDE to LXQT, which -erm- garbled mainly the start menu. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 15:39
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    it is all a matter of definition, but if you mind, I will happily withdraw my question
    – ABM K
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 23:57
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    @ABMK This was meant as written, just a reminder about how borderline it is- otherwise i'd have voted for closure.
    – Raffzahn
    Commented Dec 29, 2023 at 1:47

2 Answers 2

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There is a very good chance that the CPU in your machine is 32-bit only, and does not support 64-bit. This means that 18.04 is the latest version that is fully supported, and you cannot upgrade further easily.

Given that Ubuntu requires quite a lot from the machine (especially the graphics card) you may want to play with another distribution still supporting 32-bit. In 2021 I found that Alpine Linux worked nicely on rather old hardware - it might do that for you too. See https://www.alpinelinux.org/

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  • thnank you! The N270 is 32-bits only, so this helps
    – ABM K
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 18:13
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    Latest version of Debian is available for 32-bit x86. It is worth trying. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 18:19
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    When netbooks first started to support Windows due to popular demand, Microsoft imposed stringent limitations on the hardware to qualify for special low Windows license pricing. MS's term for the category was "ULCPC". I can't seem to find the exact details so that might be a good new question. My memory tells me 32-bit only CPU was one such limitation but I can't confirm it. ULCPC was just Home Edition with a lower price for OEMs with qualifying hardware so maybe Home Edition was 32-bit only or some other indirect limitation... Commented Jan 1 at 8:00
  • Also it might be too low powered to run a modern browser, but if you have a faster machine it can be a nice “Remote Desktop” client. Commented Jan 6 at 15:14
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Netbooks fall into that awkward gap of being outdated enough to not really be useful as modern computers, while simultaneously not being different enough from modern computers to be really "retro".

The netbook craze was dominated by the N270 and N280, both of these chips being 32-bit only. The CPU/chipset combinations also only supported a max of 2GB of ram and some models were reportedly unreliable if you upgraded them from 1GB to 2GB.

Ubuntu has dropped support for 32-bit x86 as a primary architecture*. Debian still supports 32-bit for the moment, but even they are looking towards phasing it out. The next release of Debian intends to remove 32-bit x86 support from the installer.

And even if you do get a modern Linux distro installed, you should set your expectations accordingly. I remember some years ago I abandoned my HP mini 5101, because using the modern web with a slow CPU and only 2GB of ram became too painful. With 1GB and a slightly slower CPU it would be even worse.

* Ubuntu still supports a limited set of 32-bit packages for use as a secondary architecture on 64-bit x86 systems.

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    I most say I only look for some use, just to keep the system alive. I collect retro systems I used in the past, but I try to keep them running, and that is easier when I can make them do at least something useful. The TRS-80 and C64 are easy: retro games. The eeePC has gotten a role as network backup device. It can do that. Barely :)
    – ABM K
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 0:56

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