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Might want to DD to an external and back
I have an old Toshiba, 1Ghz with 512MB RAM and 30GB HD (use a PCI card for wireless or ethernet). When I first installed 10.04 on it, it was fast. But over time, the updates took their toll and now it runs slow. I have read that while the file system doesn't fragment like windows, the file placement, over time, can reduce performance (free space gets scattered) and it helps to DD to another drive and DD back (besides, it also is a good backup).