Back in the early days of the pandemic I put together a post on which linux could be run on an old 32bit pc, the problem then being that all sorts of old machines were being pressed back into service just as a lot of the major distros had dropped 32 bit support.
All of the ones I surveyed and tried then were competent but not mainstream, and that could be a problem.
Smaller linux distros are almost always reliant on a very small team of people, all of whom have lives to lead and and are often working on a distro as a hobby.
They often produce great code and a nice distro, but then, after a few years, the team go their separate ways, and that's that. A bit like rock bands really.
So I was interested to read a review in The Register of the X86 Raspberry Pi desktop - basically a port of the Raspberry Pi environment to a 32 bit X86 computer - otherwise a netbook.
The distro sounds good, is debian based, and crucially is well supported by the Raspberry Pi foundation.
Unfortunately I took my old netbooks to the recycler last year when my chromebook died, otherwise I'd do a test install on real hardware and a review - running it in a VM isn't quite the same, and I do like to eat my own dogfood.
However, that said, it sounds interesting and might be something to go for is you're still trying to get an old netbook to be useful for a data collection project ...