For several years now I've been toying with open source software on some on my low-end computers to see if they had enough functionality to replace Microsoft Windows. In particular, I've been looking at different Linux distributions. Recently, I installed Ubuntu 7.10 ("gutsy gibbon") on my AMD 1800 machine. By today's standards, this is a very slow machine, but gutsy performs well on it, and I think I have finally found what I am looking for-- a viable Windows alternative that isn't Apple. I use Open Office to replace Microsoft Office, and Amarok and Mplayer to replace Windows Media Player. And I have my own web server, database and media server running on the same box.
I didn't care much for the default "human theme" in Ubuntu with its 70's-ish orange and brown color scheme. I customized the look and feel closer to my liking:
Then onto the other technical challenges--- loading my iPod
watching movies (Full Metal Jacket-- Hoo Ra)
running IE on Ubuntu so I can make sure my web sites account for the IE bugs
For those interested in giving Ubuntu a try, a Live CD is available for download from ubuntu.com. For those who like a more windows-centric look and feel there's the KDE based variant Kubuntu at kubuntu.com. And for truly low-end computers that can barely run XP and couldn't even begin to think about running Vista, don't turn them into a boat anchor, try xubuntu instead at xubuntu.com; it just might breath some life back into an antique.