What version of linux do I need

This is for a compaq laptop AMD k6-2 266 96 ram 4gb HD

I’ve installed a version on Mandrake that is about 9 months old w/ kde but it takes a looooong time to boot. I thought linux would be easier on the old notebook then windows but it doesn’t apear so.

What would be a nice quick version of Linux where I can run star office and internet apps?

Well, first thing that stands out is how much ram you have (as well as how little HD but that is a different matter). 96MB of ram is do-able but you’ll need to be conservitive about that you have running.
Linux can take a longish time to boot if you have a lot of daemons (services) running in the background. I haven’t run Mandrake for a while but I think you can see what’s running and turn off unneeded ones with Linuxconfig.
Also, try turning off any bells and whistles in KDE (AA, unneeded programs in the kicker, etc). You might want to look into a lighter GUI if you can’t get KDE fast enough. WindowMaker is one a lot of people like but it’s also more bare bones then KDE.
Another thing that will slow you down is StarOffice. It’s not the quickest thing out there. Have you tried KOffice or (if you have it installed) Abiword? Both should be quicker if they can do what you need.
Finally, Most of the big Linux Distro’s (Red Hat, Mandrake. Don’t know about Debian) will install a lot of things you don’t need and can slow things down. There are slimmer, faster Distro’s (such as Gentoo or Sorcerer) but they’re mainly for the hard core geeks.

(Personally I use Gentoo on a 266MHz Celeron with 256MB of ram. It’s not a speed demon but it gets the job done)

First thing you want to do is to set configuration so it uses Pentium optimised code. IIRC most Linux distros default to a 386 based machine. Switching it to Pentium optimsed make it run a lot faster.

Then you kill off everything you don’t need. All those servers and deamons of which you have no use.

I have a pII 366 celeron thinkpad with 190Megs of Ram and about the same HD space as yours. I have tried some of the major distros on this (SuSE, Mandrake, Red Hat, and Slackware). Even though slackware is geared more towards servers, I have found it the fastest and most stable.

I agree, if you are worried about speed, go to a lighter window manager than kde or gnome. My preference is blackbox. You should still install kde and gnome.

Another thing I agree with is try not to use StarOffice if you can help it, it will be pretty slow on your system, but it does have some nice features.

I am keen to try Sorcerer when I get the chance, it sounds cool. Have you tried this too FyreFiend?

I don’t have much to add to above posts but here is a link on how to build a low fat Linux desktop. It should help you on your quest to speed up that notebook’s desktop.

Nope. When I was looking into switching from Mandrake there was a big political melt down among the Sorcerer developers so I went with Gentoo after I saw it talked about on another board and haven’t looked back.
The only real hang-up with Gentoo as far as I see it is the initial install. You partition, format, etc by hand which can be intimadating. There is a good step by step howto on their site though.