Each release gets a bit better. I have an antique HP Pavilion 7920 under my desk that I have kept around mostly because there is no one that would want it. It is a 900 MHz Pentium with 256 MB of RAM, and a total of about 35 GB of disk space, in two separate physical drives. (Try not to laugh too loudly.)
I sometimes upgrade the version of Ubuntu Linux on it to see if Linux has reached the point where I can recommend it to people that aren't techies as an alternative to Windows. Each time, I find myself saying, "Not quite, but it is getting real close." It seems as though Ubuntu Linux is asymptotically approaching Windows in terms of usability--which means that it will reach parity near the end of the century (or perhaps the millennium). Anyway: real progress.
It does seem as though its performance demands of Linux are getting more severe with time, however. I can run Firefox or Chromium (the Linux version of Chrome) on it. I can run one other relatively small application. Try to open a third application, and it bogs down hopelessly. Try to run one seriously demanding application, such as the Eclipse Galileo Java IDE, and you will die of old age before you get around to writing any Java--much less compiling and executing it.
I've thought of upgrading the RAM on this box--but oddly enough, the :Linux System Monitor application show that it is more CPU bound than RAM bound. Upgrading it to 512 MB of RAM would enable it to perhaps even run Eclipse, but it would not be particularly quick. It might make more sense to reinstall Windows 98 (I have the restore disks, amazingly enough) and find some charity that needs a basic computer for word processing.
I have another notebook lying around which is a Compaq NC6000 and screaming fast (considering its age). I use this when I need to take a notebook along, and I want something smaller and lighter than the notebook that I use at home. I have thought of installing Ubuntu Linux on it as a dual boot system with Windows XP Pro, but it only has a 20 GB hard drive, and about half of it is in use. I have thought of buying a replacement 2.5" notebook drive for it, perhaps 60 GB or 80 GB, but this is mostly to keep my experience with Linux up, so it is hard to justify spending anything on it. Does anyone have an EIDE 2.5" notebook hard drive >60 GB lying around that they don't need?