Today I decided to bring an old PC back to life by installing Xubuntu 6.06 LTS on it. I chose Xubuntu 6.06 because this computer is pretty crappy and I wanted the oldest stable release possible. The PC is a Compaq P4 1.8GHz with a measly 256MB RAM. You can open a Terminal from the shortcut in the Applications menu and type 'cat /proc/cpuinfo' and 'cat /proc/meminfo' to see detailed information.
If you have very little RAM or an old processor, you might want to consider installing Xubuntu instead of regular Ubuntu.
Once you have decided you want to install Xubuntu you need to download the latest .iso and burn a LiveCD. You can find a download here, note the minimum system requirements as well (Yes, even Xubuntu has its limits). The LiveCD means it can be booted from and used for simple functions without actually installing anything, but we want to install it so let's continue.
The first thing you want to make sure you do before proceeding is setting your computer to boot from CD-ROM. When your computer first boots up hit the 'Del' key, the F10, or whatever key your BIOS wants in order to enter it's setup. Find the 'Boot Order' option and set the CD-ROM to occur before your hard drives. Before you save and exit insert the Xubuntu LiveCD. After the computer reboots it should start to boot from the CD and you should see a list of instructions after a while. Here you can check the CD for defects if you want, perform a memory test on your system memory, or install Xubuntu. If you aren't sure which install option to pick choose the default 'Start or Install Xubuntu'.
Start or Install Xubuntu
Xubuntu will start and you will see a desktop with two icons: 'Examples' or 'Install'. Since we want to install Xubuntu go ahead and double click the Install icon and follow the on-screen instructions. You will need to choose your language, time zone, user name and password (don't forget what you chose!). Eventually you will have three choices: partition only free space for Xubuntu, erase all data and auto partition, or choose your own partitioning. Since I am only using Xubuntu on this system I chose the 'erase all' option. After about a half hour the install will be done and it will ask you to reboot.
That was easy. You should now be staring at the login screen. After you login the first thing you need to do is Update the software so you are running the lastest, most secure, version. You can go to Applications->System->Update Manager using the GUI or open a Terminal and type 'sudo apt-get update'. Run a 'Check' for the latest updates and there should be over a hundred. The download and install of these should take about 12 minutes.
You may want to change the 'repositories' that Xubuntu checks when it performs an update/install. You can do this, as well as set the updater to automatically check for updates (which is off by default) by going to Applications->System->Software Properties. By default the only repositories chosen to update/install from are the 'Official' ones, but you can also check the boxes for the 'Community' supported ones. A lot of useful packages are only made available via the community repositories so I like to check those, some people might consider it risky so do so at your own risk (not only for security but for integration/compatibility with the rest of Xubuntu).
The next thing you should do is get acquianted with the Synaptic Package Manager. This is where you can add or remove software, to put it simply.
Each package has a description that helps you choose which one to install, and once you do, the manager takes care of all other dependencies for you.
One last thing you can check out is the adding extra items to the top bar of Xfce. Right click on it and choose 'Add New Item' to see what is available. I like to add the weather indicator.
That's it for now, I hope this proves useful for someone besides me.