The propaganda worked. I bought a Thinkpad, the thigh highs are on the way, penguin stickers are already here. Now it’s time to actually put Linux on my machine.

I’m a bit lost on which version of mint to put on the T480. It’s an i7 8650u, 16gb RAM, 256gb SSD (will eventually be upgrading the RAM, SSD, and display). My question is, is the t480 “old” by Linux standards? From what I’ve gathered cinnamon is the standard version. Edge is for new (?) hardware that may not be fully compatible with cinnamon. MATE is for old/lower power hardware that can’t handle the demand of cinnamon and xfce is for even older/slower hardware.

I’ve been running in circles all morning trying to find experiences of people with a T480 who are running mint and which version they’re using. Old is apparently 3+ years according to various articles trying to convince me to upgrade and I haven’t found much on what is considered old hardware for Linux. As someone who hasn’t bought a computer in nearly a decade, a quad core processor with 16 gigs of ram is ridiculously powerful. My last computer was a $90 shitbox that I got on clearance from Walmart in 2016 to do online lessons in EMT school. So my perspective/experience is utterly useless.

Can a T480 run Mint Cinnamon 21.3, or am I better off using MATE/xfce? It’s going to live a pretty easy life. I’ll mostly be using it to browse, stream music, do (online) homework, write papers, and put books on my e-reader.

  • Synapse@lemmy.world
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    3 months ago

    Theses are modern specs by Linux standards, you are not limited in the slightest for choosing your favorite desktop environment.

    On a side note, and old PC that would require a “lightweight” distro would be more like a 12yo PC with 4GB of RAM.

    • BarrelAgedBoredom@lemm.eeOP
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      3 months ago

      That makes sense. I eventually found out that “heavy” in Linux terms is like 700mb RAM at idle haha. Much lighter than windows

  • lemmyreader@lemmy.ml
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    3 months ago

    Cinnamon, MATE and XFCE4 are all pretty light weight, though XFCE4 may be the most light. Having tried all three of them on an older Thinkpad with less RAM I think you will be pretty comfortable with any of them.

    And welcome to the club ! :-)

    • BarrelAgedBoredom@lemm.eeOP
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      3 months ago

      Hey, I forgot to get back to you yesterday but I appreciate it! I’ve got mint Cinnamon up and running. I was overthinking haha, it’s honestly surprising how stress free the whole process was. Thanks again!

  • kjetil@lemmy.world
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    3 months ago

    Like Synapse also said, your computer is plenty powerful and modern by Linux standards.

    Stay away from lightweight desktop environments like Mate and XFCE. They are perfectly OK, but not necessary unless your hardware is really old like 10++ years. You dont have to limit yourself to just “OK”

    Mint Edge is for new (last 1-2 years) hardware that is not compatible with Mint (which is based on the Long Term Support versions of Ubuntu, which are released every two years). I saw some news that in the future Mint will not have a separate Edge version, and just make all versions the Edge version, so don’t worry too much about.

    One little caveat though, 256GB SSD isn’t all that much these days. For most stuff it’ll be fine, but you should probably avoid installing Flatpaks as they can be quite space-hungry. Native Mint (Ubuntu) packages are usually good enough, just know that most apps will be old, since they’re only updated every two years when there’s a new version of Mint (and Ubuntu LTS). If you buy a bigger SSD just forget about this last paragraph :)

    • BarrelAgedBoredom@lemm.eeOP
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      3 months ago

      Thanks! On the SSD bit, I actually got really lucky yesterday. I couldn’t find a thumb drive anywhere in my house so I ran out to get one from the store. Next to their thumb drives, they had a ton of m.2 nvme cards on clearance. I snagged a 1tb card for $40 so I’m all taken care of on that front!

      • kjetil@lemmy.world
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        3 months ago

        Great 😃 Although… $40 for 1TB nvme sounds suspiciously cheap. Hopefully it’s just cheap cause of the clearance sale. Make sure you do regular backups. TimeShift is good for backing up the operation system, but find something to back up your user-data as well.

        I’ve found with cheap SSDs one way they fail is to fail on writes, leading Linux to remount the filesystem as Read-only.

        • BarrelAgedBoredom@lemm.eeOP
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          3 months ago

          It was a wd blue SN580, from my few minutes of googling before pulling the trigger I couldn’t find many complaints on their reliability. It usually retails for $60-80. Some said they’re slower than top of the line SSDs and utilize ram in some way that may bog down your computer when transferring large files(?) But my computers going to see relatively light use so I figured it wouldn’t be much of an issue. Any personal experience with WD drives? I’m not committed to keeping it in the long term but I figured 1tb would be better than 256gb for school.

          I’ve got time shift set to back up twice a day, twice a week and save 3 every month. Is that overkill?

          • kjetil@lemmy.world
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            3 months ago

            I’ve had a WD Blue SSD completely die in the past, but that could be coincidental. Then again I now have a WD Black nvme where the SMART error counter trickles upwards, so thanks for reminding me I need to change it xD

            I’ve also had a Kingston SSD fail on writes, and a Samsung SSD where the error counter trickles upwards, so it might just be coincidental. I’ve also encountered a batch of very expensive Intel SSDs dying early due to a firmware bug, so… TLDR: WD Blue is probably fine :P

            Regarding TimeShift, I’m assuming you’ve specified what it should back up, and where. By default it only backs up system files, basically everything outside your /home folder. And stores it on the root partition. That setup is great for recovering from bad system updates, but useless to protect against drive failure.

            Assuming you have specified TimeShift to backup your home folder, to a separate physical drive, then twice per day sounds fine. Daily would probably also be fine. Just ask yourself how catastrophic would it really be to loose 1 day of changes?