Rescuing that old laptop is usually a bad idea when you can obtain a new one for $200 or less.
There are various reasons, though, to give it a try.
Just for fun. Large screen. DVD drive, especially the HP LightScribe Drive which creates a disc label without a printer.. Or you just hate to throw out the old one for whatever reason.
All you really need is a browser to do everything you need to do. Whatever operating system works best is OK. You need an image of it to to install. That is easy now: download, copy, and run..
Running an OS from either DVD or a flash drive makes a lot of sense. Why bother with the slow old vulnerable physical ”Model T” mechanical hard drive.
I tried a rescue first with a typical Class 4 flash 16GB thumbdrive and then switched to a cheap $10 Class 10 drive for much better results, more than twice as fast.
In one instance (Pine64 OS) I found that I needed to switch to a USB mic and speaker to make multimedia work. These are cheap now.
It is much easier nowadays to get the operating system free for flash drive or DVD. You just download the “iso” OS image and either copy it to the DVD or use a third-party software to flash it to your flash drive. No need to be a techie.
Of the Linux distributions available, I have these impressions.
Pine64: workable though slow.
Pixel: light and fast, but browsing not available on all sites - this OS ran 10 times as fast as Microsoft Windows 10 on my Dell Tower, but not on Amazon apps
Knoppix: always worked for me in the past, and I will try it again. You can get a live DVD for about $5 if you don’t want to download it.
Remix OS (Android) - should be a winner, being UNIX based and lightweight
Just search for any of these on your browser.