Fast OS for an Old Laptop


I have an old laptop (Samsung NP-N110) which uses a 1.6GHz Atom N270, 1GB Ram and a 60GB HDD. I’ve install a couple of different Linux OSs (currently running is Mint) but all of them seem to be very slow to do anything. It used to run WinXP (which I know is an older OS compared to the current Linux OSs), but it was very fast with that. In fact, most of the computers that I install Linux OSs on (even the more modern ones) seem to be very slow at running up the system and apps. I was always very happy with using the Samsung, but since XP was dropped, I was hoping to install a Linux OS in its place. Are there any suggestions as to what OS I might run on this? It needs to be easy to install (I’ve noticed some Linux OSs are quite complicated); reasonably safe and secure; and will boot up, open and run apps with reasonable speed. I don’t expect the earth, but knowing how the system worked originally, I was hoping for something similar.


Hi Matt.

With 32-bit, 1.6GHz & 1GB RAM you are going to struggle a bit, but there are still Linux OSs that will be suitable. I haven’t tried them myself but searching on DuckDuckGo for “linux for very small 32 bit computers” comes up with many lightweight versions for you to try. linux for very small 32 bit computers at DuckDuckGo

I’m sure other Members will chip in with their experiences.


Don’t give up on Mint! Take a look here - Easy Linux Tips Project: Speed Up your Mint! and try out the recommendations.

Failing that you might look here for an alternative - Best lightweight Linux distro of 2024 | TechRadar :wink:

The bad news is that this is never going to be fast. According to Wikipedia the Atom N270 has only half the performance of a Pentium M with the same clock speed. Now I have a laptop with a Pentium M (an IBM Thinkpad from 2003!) and that does run Debian with Xfce, rather sedately, but I wouldn’t want to use that setup on anything that had only half its performance.

The solution for you will be AntiX — built from carefully selected Debian components, so very stable, to run on the slowest and smallest computers. I’ve used it and it’s good — the only reason I don’t use it is that it’s not convenient if you need multiple keyboard drivers, which I doubt that you do.

Cheers, Guys.


Hi. I’ve tried to speed up Mint, using the link stated above by Rich J. I have been very careful to follow the instructions as I am not very familiar with the OS. However, when I turned the laptop on today I am only getting the BusyBox shell, with (initramfs) prompting me. I’ve no idea what this is and I can’t seem to get back to the main screen.

In my limited experience, trying to “tweak” an OS to make improvements (such as speed) often involves loss of some other feature. I was rarely able to “un-tweak” and it looks like you have fallen victim to the downside.

I looked through Rich’s link and found nothing relating to BusyBox, so wonder if you clicked on a link on that page (?). When I searched for Busybox ( I found something that was way beyond my understanding - perhaps the Mad Penguin can advise you.

If I were in your situation, though, I would bite the bullet and simply install an appropriate OS such as David’s suggestion of Antix (I’ve tried it on a Live USB and it looks good).
Sorry I can’t offer any help.


Thanks. I notice searching on another thread (something I should have done first) that one user with a similar problem used:

fsck /dev/sda1
and it seemed to work for them. I tried it and, after saying ‘yes’ to everything, it seems also to have worked. Not sure if there are any further underlying problems that I may inadvertently caused.

Also, the speed has noticeably improved. Although, not to the extent I was expecting.

Good news indeed. If your computer remains stable please mark the title of your first post on this topic as [SOLVED] in order to guide others with similar problems.


I’m still playing around with this, and I’m not sure I’m happy with it (Mint). I’ve looked at other OSs, in particular Zorin. (These are on VMs.) It generally seems to have a good write up, but there are still things I’m not too happy about, but this could be that I’m sort of used to other OSs. I’ve experimented with Lite quite a bit, but I’m concerned about it’s longevity. Because of the age of the machine, I can only use 3.8 (32 bit), which apparently has already reached EOL last April. I am comfortable with Lite, but am concerned about the security. Zorin is a current 32 bit OS, but I’m concerned that it, too, will go the way of Lite and, soon, only serve 64 bit machines. I appreciate that this is the way of the world, but I have, what I consider, to be a usable, reliable and good piece of equipment, and was hoping that I could install an OS that was also reliable and long lasting.

Any further advice?

32-bit OSs will disappear eventually - there’s little doubt about that. There are still several available at present (search for “32 bit linux distros 2021” and you will find lots of sites reviewing them) but it always comes down to personal choice.

You say " there are still things I’m not too happy about" but that’s a personal thing that you will have to assess for yourself. You say also that you are concerned about security - anything in particular? Linux is generally very secure and I’m not aware of any common risks bar giving people ones email address and bank details. As Forum member David McCann says “the biggest risk to security lies between your computer and your chair”.

Overall, I suggest only that you try as many as possible and choose the one that fits your criteria best. Do let us know what you decide upon, and why.


I’m still considering going with Lite 3.8. Do you know what the risks are with doing that?

I’m not aware of any serious issues with Lite, Matt. Indeed I have had no problems with any Linux operating system.
To be fair, all computer systems have some vulnerabilities - we can’t get away from that fact - that’s why we have frequent bug & security updates. You can find some info on Lite here Security & Bug Fixes and here Security.

Hope that helps.


So with Windows, EOL generally means that there are no more security fixes, etc. Is this the same with Lite? Or is this a different set up? Is it / will it be in the future just as secure as when it was first introduced? I.e what are the general risks of running Lite 3.8 over something like Zorin 15. (Sorry for the jumble of questions.)

PS. For some reason, I’m getting the notification messages put in the Spam folder, despite repeatedly marking them as not spam. What’s going on? I’m using Gmail.

That’s right: EOL means that there are no more security fixes, etc for the life of a particular version, and for the OS if it is abandoned, and Lite is just the same.
An extant OS should remain just as secure throughout its life as when it was introduced - perhaps better as bugs are ironed out.
I can’t comment on comparative risks between Zorin & Lite, or indeed any OSs.

You are using gmail and wonder why mail goes to spam? If you are worried about security I am surprised that you use gmail as Google will know everything about you. And it often messes up Thunderbird, if you use that. I suggest very strongly that you use a secure email provider. Although these tend to be paid-for services, some have a free version with reduced facilities. I recommend highly proton mail. Do read How Safe is Proton Mail? Security Features Explained | Proton. Proton also has a free Virtual Private Network (VPN) to enhance your privacy further: Proton VPN features | Proton VPN
Similarly, if you use something like Dropbox cloud storage, I recommend Mega:

Hope that helps,

Thanks. I’m aware of the majority of issues using Gmail. The reason is simply legacy. I had to change from when they closed and I decided, quite blindly at the time, to go with Gmail. It was such a hassle to change various things connected with my e-mail account that I’m reluctant to do it again. I appreciate that Gmail is collecting info and is able to use that info without the users knowledge, (under the terms and conditions, the fact that I’m using the service gives Gmail my permission to use that info when and how they like,) but I don’t pass info along through Gmail that I consider sensitive. That goes by a different route - I do have a Proton Mail account, and I also have Dropbox.

Thanks for your advice, though.


Do let us know which OS you decide upon, and why you choose it - readers are bating their breath.

Well, I finally decided on Linux Lite. One of the problems I though I had with Mint, was that Dropbox wouldn’t install. So I decided to install Lite and now find that Dropbox still doesn’t install. I didn’t notice if the error message with Mint gave any indication, but Lite certainly did. The spec isn’t high enough. Accessing Dropbox was one of reasons for trying to re-use the laptop. But I guess it’s not meant to be. It’s not so long ago that Dbx would have worked fine on there, but I guess the Dbx team have decided that they don’t want the older m/c to run it. I understand the economic and security reasons, but it’s a little frustrating. I’m not the type of person that enjoys all the most modern tech. Particularly if the old tech seems to work absolutely fine (except for the FORCED upgrading).

I think I’ll stick with Lite, and if I need to access Dbx, I’ll have to down/upload it directly via the website. Thanks so much for your help; it’s much appreciated.


Hi Matt.

I don’t think you have to install Dropbox on your computer unless you need the convenience of placing files in your Dropbox directory to share with others.
You can still access your Dropbox account via a web browser, upload/download files and share them with friends by providing a link. I haven’t used Dropbox for a while, but use the more secure equivalent. I accidentally lost the Mega directory but still use the service via Firefox.

Let us know if this works for you.