Recently, I bought a laptop. I consulted several friends to get a consensus as to which one would work best with Linux. Tallying the results, I decided to go with an IBM ThinkPad. I chose a barely used model T21 with a Pentium III 800, a 20GB hard drive, 256MB of RAM and a DVD-ROM. Prices ranged all over the place, but I found a one for less than $300.
Once the laptop arrived, I began searching around on Google to see which Linux distributions people used on ThinkPads. I even found a ThinkPad mailing list and some distribution-oriented laptop ones. Then, I found a tutorial that convinced me to go with Fedora Core 3.
Although the Fedora tutorial gave me many of hints on how to configure tools to take advantage of the ThinkPad's built-in functionality, Fedora did not work for me. I decided to stay with 256MB of RAM, primarily so I could help Linux users who could not afford to add the memory needed to get to 512MB. Perhaps if I upgraded to a higher level of memory, I could use Fedora. At 256MB of RAM, however, Fedora creeped. I felt like I was using a memory-starved Microsoft Windows machine.
Call it a challenge, but many postings exist on the mailing lists I follow from international users who simply can't afford to upgrade their memory. To an American, it doesn't seem so unrealistic simply to upgrade. To friends in Hungary, the costs seem high.
I spent the better part of two days trying a variety of distributions. Before people start writing comments about how much better their distributions run than the one I chose, let me say I played no favorites. I wanted performance and I got it with Ubuntu. Contrary to what some of you might believe, it's not my favorite Linux distro. It simply performed the best in this case.
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