Following the Microsoft model, the next generation of hardware seems to always make up for the next generation of features. We tend to accept the it does more excuse for it needing newer, bigger and faster hardware. But, are we really getting what we want?
I know a lot of people who think the answer is no. I am one of them. I have moved back in time to what I think is the last good laptop ever built, the T43 ThinkPad (but I also have a T42). My computing requirements tend to be modest. As an example, I have Firefox open (with eight tabs) and a terminal (with two tabs). Yes, sometimes I am watching a video but most everything else is either done in a browser or a terminal. I happen to like some of the stuff in the KDE panel -- for example, the clock and an icon that shows net traffic -- but, beyond that, I am not generally using the fancy stuff that KDE offers.
I have been running Xfce (Xubuntu) on the T42 some of the time. I can best say I don't really dislike it but that is not exactly a thrilling review. I actually loaded it because a recent Kubuntu version requires the PAE instruction. In spite of being the 386 version, someone apparently decided everyone has a new computer. Oh well.
I have read a bit about Lubuntu. The idea of a lightweight (I think that means not bloated) distribution makes sense. As we have an old Eee PC which came with an ancient version of some Debian derivitive and a 4GB solid state disk (yup, that's all), I decided to see if Lubuntu would be a good fit.
The answer is yes. It seems to happily run. The only problem I encountered is that Chrome, the default browser, doesn't start. I loaded Firefox and it is happy. Wondering about the browser issue, I booted up Lubuntu from a USB stick on the T42. Runs great. I decided that I had found the right thing to put on a T23 which has been used most recently as a paperweight.
As the T23 isn't smart enough to boot from USB flash, i burned a CD. The T23 boots but dies. I brought out another T23 paperweight (I think I have one more) but it has the same problem. As this is not a high priority in my life, it can remain a mystery.
The reality of running Lubuntu, for me, is I actually like it. it is fast, it looks clean and, most important, it is not bloated. There may finally be a KDE replacement for me.
If you wnat to give it a try, it can be downloaded from lubuntu.net and it appears that the 386 version will at least run on a Pentium.