What linux distribution to install

I have an old (2009) Dell Inspiron 910 CPU: Diamondville Intel Atom N270 (1.6 GHz/533Mhz FSB/512K cache)

I want to install a simple linux distro to mainly work with Arduino boards.

What do the experts think?

That’s a 32-bit-only system, so definitely not Fedora. Fedora just released Fedora 31 without support for installing on 32-bit-only systems.

If you want something in the Red Hat family, you could use CentOS — CentOS 7 is available for 32-bit, is well respected, and has another five years of security updates planned. It has SELinux, which I like from a security standpoint. It would be my own probably first choice as long as all the software I anted to use runs on it. But it won’t get much in the way of significant software updates.

While Ubuntu isn’t my personal favorite, there’s lots of information available about it. On the system you plan to use, the Lubuntu variant might be best; you’ll get updated software intended to run on older, smaller systems like the one you are looking at. It is regularly updated. That will make it easier over time to run more newer software, most likely.

I doubt you need Puppy Linux, but you can try it from a USB stick. It’s light enough that it just loads the entire operating system into memory and runs from there. I haven’t played with it. But it’s been around for a long time.

Hope that helps…


The Fedora spins includes an i686 set of spins. Their i686 spins are also 32 bit spins. LXQT or LXDE or Cinnamon might work. Avoid KDE with Plasma. I hope this helps and proves accurate for you.

I was the first Fedora Project Leader, so it’s pretty natural that I would recommend Fedora. But Fedora 31, just released, does not include those i686 spins, and I don’t expect to see alternative architecture spins show up, because if people had been willing to do that work, they wouldn’t have dropped i686 support in the first place; it was lack of Fedora developers interested in supporting pure-32-bit Intel spins that caused them to drop support. If you install Fedora 30 i686 today, you’ll get security updates for less than a year, and then be at a dead end.

I don’t see i686 builds for CentOS 8 yet and haven’t even looked to see whether they are planned. 5 more years for CentOS 7 updates will give a longer update cycle without upgrading to a new version than would be available on Lubuntu, which you should expect to upgrade regularly to new base Ubuntu versions.

I saw it in the past but I do not see instances of i686 stuff on getfedora.org now. There is arm hfp (hardware floating point) which is interesting, but that is not what you were looking for. Thanks for letting me know that i686 is no longer on the menu for Fedora. I will try to make sure not to suggest it to people with 32 bit machines or other other machines anymore.

I wish you luck finding your 32 bit Linux distro.

I don’t know why not in general. The 32-bit Intel architecture was the one architecture that didn’t have enough volunteers to maintain. For 64-bit Intel architecture it’s still my first choice. Why would dropping support for an architecture that don’t have enough volunteers to continue to support mean it’s a bad choice for architectures that are strongly supported?

I still intend to recommend Fedora LXQT or Fedora LXDE or Fedora Cinnamon spins to people with 64 bit machines. Just not for machines with older architectures.

I recently became a fan of Linux Mint running the Cinnamon desktop. I do not know if it is suitable for your arduino board stuff or not since I have not tried arduino stuff on it yet.

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It really doesn’t matter what distro you are using for Arduino. Basically anything will have Java available for it one way or another, so pretty much any Linux distribution will do the job. And now you can use platformio to do builds from the command line on anything with Python available, which is… basically everything, and there are plenty of models available to show how to use platformio, such as Marlin 2. If you want to use VSCode for Arduino, then you probably want a more modern machine, based on reported experiences of some of my friends using VSCode for other development. :slight_smile:

Nor does the desktop environment matter for Arduino development. Use whatever you like. (I use Cinnamon on Fedora on a 64-bit intel system.)

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