Running Linux on OLD Hardware

Just a few thoughts on running Linux on rather old machines…

I’ve been using various Linux distros for 20+ years. It continues to amaze me how well Linux runs on old PCs/laptops. Especially in 2024 with a plethora of old hardware available. As an intermediate Linux user over the years, I would have thought that the older the hardware the more likely a problem may arise. But I’ve found that while that can be true, it’s not necessarily the rule.

I ran Linux Mint on an old 2nd gen HP Envy 14 from 2011 for a bit more that 2 years, without issues, until the laptop finally died. I’m currently running EOS KDE Plasma 6 (Wayland session) on a 10 year old Mac Mini. Respectable, but highly dated specs. I initially thought that a machine designed specifically for MacOS might not play nice with any Linux distro. It would seem I was mistaken. EOS has been buttery smooth and super fast since I installed it more than 2 months ago.

  • I assumed that dated Apple specs from 2014 might be an issue, but I was wrong.
  • I assumed that this 10 year old Broadcom/Apple wireless driver would be a hurdle, but I was wrong.
[wombat64@endeavour ~]$ inxi -Na
  Device-1: Broadcom BCM4360 802.11ac Dual Band Wireless Network Adapter
    vendor: Apple driver: wl v: kernel modules: bcma pcie: gen: 1
    speed: 2.5 GT/s lanes: 1 bus-ID: 02:00.0 chip-ID: 14e4:43a0 class-ID: 0280
  Device-2: Broadcom NetXtreme BCM57766 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe driver: tg3
    v: kernel pcie: gen: 1 speed: 2.5 GT/s lanes: 1 port: N/A bus-ID: 03:00.0
    chip-ID: 14e4:1686 class-ID: 0200
[wombat64@endeavour ~]$

I guess the bottom line is that this is just one of the many reasons to love Linux. While PC/laptop specs and age should definitely be a consideration when searching for a Linux distro, it seems there will almost always be at least a few distros that will run on almost any machine.


Indeed. Same experience here. We use refurbished laptops mostly at home, discarded by friends or family, and install a Linux distribution. What did become a bit of an issue is that, a few years back, some distro’s dropped support for 32-bit architecture. And I still have one 32-bit laptop, and had to choose a distro that would keep supporting 32 bits. So I installed MX Linux:



Old mac hardware no bad ( true it dated ) still run smooth.

i run Arch on 13 year old Macbook Pro. same install for 4 year + zero problem on latest stable kernel.


My main notebook is a Macbook Pro A1278 mid. 2012, purchased for €60 last year.
After careful internal cleaning I replaced the original hard disk and the DVD burner with two 512 GB SSDs and increased the RAM to 16 GB.
I installed EOS Plasma as the only operating system but through QEMU I enjoy following the development of other distributions: I have virtual machines with Ubuntu 24.04 in various flavours, Windows 10, Fedora… and despite the older hardware it does the job excellently !


After seeing your system specs I looked at mine again, and there is quite a contrast. EOS having the ability to run both almost flawlessly is impressive. It begs the question; Is it harder to make the os run on old hardware or new?


I have Archlinux Openbox running on a very old Windows 95 laptop. For the days that I get bored.


I suspect a tidal wave of devices which do not meet Windoze 11 requirements are about to wash over ebay. Excess supply will drive down prices–I hope.


Me too, a lot of people here sell second hand devices like they are only a week old (even though a lot are 10+ years old)

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My experience with this old MacBook has been very positive.

Practically everything worked out of the box except the fan management which I solved by installing the mbpfan package. Without this package the processor fan never worked at the right rotation speed and temperatures rose.

The webcam has never worked because it’s broken… I should replace it but I really don’t care much about doing so because I never use it.


My 2015 MacBook Pro has more issues with Broadcom firmware than my 2008 MacBook, at least on Endeavour and Arco. inxi shows it as a BCM43602. Older macs are awesome Linux machines, basically up until models with a T2 chip.


Yer years ago when I was first exploring linux I had a macbook and the only issue I had was with a wifi driver which I managed to solve pretty easily at the time though if I didn’t have a second device it would have been a headache


I patronize bulk resellers–the ones who buy crates off off-lease office drones, refurb them, and dump them on ebay. They tend to have realistic pricing and are usually very honest about the condition of the devices. On those rare occasions when a laptop was misrepresented (16GB RAM in the ad, only 8GB in the machine, for example) I was able to get a quick remedy without involving ebay. I got my T530 this way. It was yard sale cheap and like-new condition. Runs EOS like a racecar.

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Ten years ago I had to use a very old laptop, the most annoying things was the system was not responsive, especially with limited memory.
In the end my desktop was LXDE with Epiphany (Firefox only when necessary), Sylpheed, Abiword and Gnumeric for working smoothly.

Booted my 20+ year old laptop today and noticed it was last updated Jan 01 2024. Updated archlinux-keyring, then updated my system without any issues ( 1537 MiB ). Had to chose 1 for the default twice for package changes. Isn’t Archlinux great when you can updated your system in 5 min after 3-1/2 months + of sitting.


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