Old 32bit Hardware and latest kernel, good or bad?


Ok, as not everyone thing latest kernel is best for old hardware, I want to show an interesting experience that contradicts it a little bit.

I have three old Laptop - IBM Thinkpad T42, with according to current standard are obsolete hardware, two of them have an Radeon RV200 and one RV350 (if I remember correctly) video cards.
I don’t remember exactly, but I think I start on this laptops directly with Ubuntu Mate 16.04 some around its beta release.

So on Ubuntu Mate 16.04 on 2 of these laptops, with RV200, the Shut-down Mate logo have random colors. In very rear occasion you have green on the logo and grey on the background.
So I install Mate 18.04 and that issue disappear , so happy with that, but I have another issue, sometime system does not shutdown. (not mentioning that slow scrolling - with no more further investigation).

I reverted those laptops to mate 16.04 , and surprise when moving from 4.13.xx kernel to 4.15.xx kernel (the one that mate 18.04 has) I get the logo issue fixed and the shut down issue.
So what is very interesting, Is that logo fixed by the kernel issue, everytime I was thinking is some Mate 16.04 related issue, not the video card kernel driver. so that Issue was along all 4.4 to 4.13 kernel, so the first fix discovered in 4.15 kernel, and no other video issue with that laptop on Mate 16.04.

Of course I update kernel on this laptops to latest 4.18 kernel, so probably on 4.16 kernel also the shutdown issue introduced in 4.15 has been solved back.

So is good to have latest kernel if that does not introduce issues, like kernel modules not updated to latest kernel (I don’t use ZFS on those laptops), or userspace hardware related configuration, firmware,…

So when this issues are solved, makes me happy thinking that things on this earth get better and better over time. :slight_smile:


Hallo mircea

I’ve used Ubuntu-Mate daily for over two years. It’s where I want to be.


on a T42 I suggest you consider installing “MX Linux” (https://mxlinux.org/).

To give you a taste of what it is about you might find this review useful:

I know of a non-profit organisation that resells hardware as old as yours - they install MX Linux on these machines.
I myself keep two virtual machines, one runs openSuSE Leap 15, the other MX Linux. But these are my reserves. I even run Ubuntu-Mate in a virtual machine at work (we all know that windoze has its limits) to help me out when I need Linux tools. :penguin:
So, Ubuntu-Mate whenever possible (for me), but when the situation requires it you are sometimes better served running something else.
Good luck with your machines, they were built to last. :slight_smile:


@alpinejohn thanks for the tip, I like it (desktop design).
I don’t like XFCE, this desktop is not well polished, they have a lot of wasted pixels and bulky elements in windows and dialog boxes, witch are not so good for low res screens. Mate is the best.

I also like those laptops, are not my main machines, but they just work,
I love the screens on them, because they just have low resolution, everything is bigger, very clear, and that almost square shape Is something that is very hard or impossible to find this days.
And I no more prefer laptops, just desktops, because of ergonomic work and prefer to work with two identical screens.

Somehow I am right now on one of them, I keep it in my workshop for listening music, so bring it up home for software update, and very impressed, it just work more smoother (in Firefox) than what I remember :smiley:


Every new release of the kernel will have some regressions mostly for old components/drivers. Because devs don’t have all components in the world to test on and because there are few testers.


I understand that, but I am amazed that even this days there is improvement on very old hardware.
The shut down Mate logo has never been with the right color (only randoms) until kernel 4.15, and I think I install Mate on them from kernel 4.0 - 4.1. And was the only issue (minor one) on Mate desktop …
So if we have two improvements and one small regression everything is good :smiley: , that regression might be fixed in the future …
I run 4.18 on those laptops as it fix (or reduce appearance) of shutdown issue in 4.15