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Old 05-15-2004, 11:21 PM   #1
vdogvictor
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Why no good linux for older computers?


I have a P MMX 233 MHz 64MB RAM and 535 MB harddrive. I have put on all these OS's: Damn Small Linux, DeliLinux, turbolinux workstation 6.0, slackware 9.1, and Windows 98. I have also tried to put on SuSE 9.0, Red Hat 9.0, and Gentoo 1.4 GRP install to no avail. I do not understand why Windows 98 can have a such a decent DesktopEnvironment (Explorer) but I can't find a version of linux with a comparable one. I mean sure, I've gotten Icewm, blackbox, fvwm95 and the such to work...but still none of those are really a desktop environtment...just a window manager. I even tried enlightenment on TurboLinux but it would only run inside GNOME (yes GNOME ran in turbolinux...but I couldn't make icons change the wall paper or right click so I don't want that)...so it was pointless. So is there a good distro of linux that will run on such old hardware...and if not why then why not? All I am really looking for is the ability to make desktop icons, change the wall paper, and right click on a folder to see the properties and things like that nothing too fancy...like I said just similar to windows 98.

Last edited by vdogvictor; 05-15-2004 at 11:22 PM.
 
Old 05-15-2004, 11:34 PM   #2
Shade
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www.vectorlinux.com

Works a charm.

--Shade
 
Old 05-15-2004, 11:40 PM   #3
vectordrake
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Its not the distro. You got them to work, right? Try a different windowing environment. XFCE4 seems to be a nice compromise between lightness and functionality. Add the ROX file manager, and you'll wonder why you ever had Crash98 on your machine. In reality, you can manipulate those other window managers too, but its done either with config files you edit by hand, or with tools that don't get installed by default.

Either Rox or Xffm (the XFCE file manager) will make Explorer look like a gimpy cripple in comparison. And the uptime'll reward you too. Or, you could keep ole' blue screen on there until uncle Bill stops giving out security updates...

And, hey, XFCE is soooo skinnable too. You won't have to steal or buy Windowblinds to make your desktop look soooo kewl. Good luck.
 
Old 05-16-2004, 12:05 AM   #4
vdogvictor
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Okay well I don't have enough hard drive space according to the VecorLinux site so no on that. Is XFCE included on the slack 9.1 disks? ( that is what I have installed currently ) and is rox or xffm included too?
 
Old 05-16-2004, 12:19 AM   #5
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yes, maybe, yes
 
Old 05-16-2004, 12:22 AM   #6
vdogvictor
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okay i'll give it a try
 
Old 05-16-2004, 12:31 AM   #7
vectordrake
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Good luck with that. XFCE is nice with the configurations. Its what IceWM should be.
 
Old 05-16-2004, 12:32 AM   #8
Mega Man X
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Nah, I've an old laptop, 166 MHZ with 32 of RAM. I've tried everything you've tried too under that machine. Slackware and Libranet with a light window manager worked like a charm. But still, I would prefer 100x Win98 in that machine:

1 - Fast, usable even with Office 2000;
2 - Can play mp3's very nicely, Linux lags even with no X server and mpg321;
3 - Run a hole bunch of old DOS games and even some newer ones as Diablo smoothly;
4 - The Win98 installation (by that, I need printers drivers, Office, video and audio players) is way smaller then Linux installation with the above stuff. Ok, you can make Linux installation smaller(specially letting the Development packages and libraries out), but as soon as you try to install something, you will run into a dependency hell...
5 - I could run MS Visual Studio 6.0 just smoothly in that machine.
6 - The 28k modem won't run with Linux even asking Gandalf to do some tricks...

The true is, an old machine like that is way more useful as a personal computer with Windows than any Linux you put in there. With newer machines it's more arguable, but in older machines, I'd say go with Windows...

Last edited by Mega Man X; 05-16-2004 at 12:35 AM.
 
Old 05-16-2004, 02:14 AM   #9
MS3FGX
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I have had the same experience as Megaman X (mine is a laptop with 133 MHz with 32 MB of RAM).

It was running Windows 98 when I got it, and ran it pretty well. The machine took awhile to boot, but after that, everything was pretty stable.

Well, I wasn't doing much with it, and I wanted to try out some other distros anyway, so I tried installing Linux on it. First I tried VectorLinux 3.0, which might have run well if I could ever get it installed. I tried to install it at least 20 times, but every time I tried, I got a kernel panic, and the machine crashed with a screen full of debug messages.

I checked around online to see what else would work well on a old system, but in the end found that I was better off just going with Slackware like I have on my other machines.

Well, to make a long story short, it was hell.

After install, the sound didn't work, framebuffer didn't work, it had 1 MB of RAM free after boot, and forget about running any sort of GUI, it was command line only.

A month later, I now have the sound working, and removed most of the services (I now have 16 MB of RAM free at boot), but there is still no framebuffer, and I don't think it would run a GUI worth a crap.

So instead of a 1 hour Windows 98 install that would have gotten me a functional machine with 100% hardware support, I have a month install that has gotten me a command line only machine that can play text games and MP3s (not at the same time though...)

It seems that on older hardware (if we are talking about a GUI environment) Windows 9x just plain runs better than a Linux solution. Of course, this is probably because Windows 9x was created for hardware in the 90's (duh) while Linux has continued to evolve, and is now designed to run on newer machines.

Perhaps if we could go back in time and grab a Slackware install disk from 1995...

Last edited by MS3FGX; 05-16-2004 at 02:18 AM.
 
Old 05-16-2004, 02:50 AM   #10
cyberFISH
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linux is great for old computers!!!!

my laptop is a p1-classic 133 / 80meg ram, its running vector linux3.2, xfree3.3.6 and blackbox, quite happily runs fast enough for most task's id what to do on it.

also my server is another p1 133, this time only 32meg, its running a stage1 compile (8 days!!!) gentoo 1.4, using the wolk (working overloaded linux kernel) kernel, its running boa httpd, proftpd and samba and still staying inside the 32meg ram even with a few samba streams running.

old computers need tender care when setting up and a LOT of tweaking, dont install libs and progs you're not gonna use and if you want to use linux, why you need a pretty gui?!??! use an xterm!!!

Last edited by cyberFISH; 05-16-2004 at 02:54 AM.
 
Old 05-16-2004, 03:05 AM   #11
bulliver
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Quote:
I do not understand why Windows 98 can have a such a decent DesktopEnvironment (Explorer) but I can't find a version of linux with a comparable one.
Well, you're not really being fair are you? Windows 98 was released in June 1998, and SuSE 9.0, Red Hat 9.0, and Gentoo 1.4 were released last year....try putting XP on this box, I don't think you would be very satisfied either.

apples and oranges my friend.
 
Old 05-16-2004, 03:27 AM   #12
iZvi
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The biggest problem with old computers is usually the small amount of RAM. If you install late version of KDE on a Pentium 1 machine with 32 MB RAM it will run but most of the time it will be trashing from RAM to hard drive and from hard drive to ram and it will be hard to take control of the computer. You can't feel comfortable with less than 128 MB whatever CPU you have and that's not enough but is usable. And for Windows 98 it is really unfair to compare with late Linux desktop environments because it is old and designed for old hardware and does not provide a lot of functionality. If you want comparison try KDE 1- it is from 1999, looks similar to Windows 98 and is as fast as Windows 98 even on 100 MHz CPU.
 
Old 05-16-2004, 04:44 AM   #13
SciYro
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i have a system similar to yours here, except i got a 6GB hard drive, and i can upgrade to 128MB of ram (I'm gonna reinstall when i get my hands on another stick of ram for my laptop)

the largest compiles are just about 12 hours (glibc, or gcc with bootstrap enabled for make)

i had X running fine (when i say "running", i mean i got ion wm to compile, but i decided i couldn't use it too effectively, so i tried other wm's but all the "light" ones i liked needed motif to install (WTF is up with that!), and iceWM runs like a slow piece of sh*t on 233MHz trust me, ion was much faster, as so was another wm i got to compile (but only for fun, i didn't really want it, then i deleted XFree86, (don't try xserver from freedesktop.org , it has no meaningfully man pages and can be a pain to start up successfully (unless you actually made it, but to me after a month and i still couldn't understand anything about it), next time i reinstall linux ill try Xorg version, they are at a bigger number the xfree86 anyway, 11.6.7 i think it was..)

anyways get used to the command line on that old machine, X makes things run slow (you can tell by comparing how fast things compile in the CLI, then in the GUI, and you'll see a difference, but for not so demanding stuff it will run fine, i had gimp running just fine (and thats about it, before i decided i didn't like ionWM (it makes you view things indevidually, and in the GIMP that becomes a butt of a pain)

i used core linux by the way (and made sure to recompile everything so it could run faster (hopefully) on my laptop... i cant say if it worked tho.. cause i have no real experience with default binary files from lager distros, so all i can say is it worked better then windows for me

Last edited by SciYro; 05-16-2004 at 04:48 AM.
 
Old 05-16-2004, 10:31 AM   #14
Mega Man X
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Sorry guys, I know that it's not fair to compare a new linux distribution with win98. Hole point is, we (the ones who tried Linux in an old computer and disliked it) were _not_ trying to run KDE or Gnome, but Fluxbox and XFCE. It does runs ok, but there is not much you can do with those machines. I also don't see how fun it is to take 8 days compiling something on it with Gentoo, if win98 takes roughly 40 minutes to install in that machine, with everything working right out of the box, including modem and sound.

And that was Slackware 9.0 which is supposed to be i386 optimized, meaning better for older hardware.

I happen to have a second box, a Dell 400 MHZ with 384 of RAM and a crappy onboard graphics card ATI 4 Mega. Needless to say, any Linux distribution runs great in that machine due it's amount of Ram. However, that box is pretty unusable to watch videos, be it mplayer, xine or ogle. It does, plays fine as long as it's not in full screen mode, otherwise video gets slow and sound runs out of sync.

Same box with Windows 98, 2000 or XP gives an incredible performance, boots faster, open application faster, plays DVD's without a problem, DivX, it plays 3D games as Quake 1, 2, 3, Unreal, Unreal Tournament and many other 3D or not, games from that time. Note: still using Slackware 9.0 and mplayer compiled from source and I tried all possible things to speed up...

I have had that box for quite a long time now and I've even used it to program 3D games with DirectX and Visual C++, just smooth.

The truth is (now you will flame me) Windows is better for older machines than Linux is. It won't matter which desktop you will use or which distribution you choose (I've Redhat 6.2 disk here, and I tried with my laptop and would not install and with my Dell 400 MHZ and everything ran like garbage, no hardware support whatsoever).

With new machines though, it's difficult to say if Linux or Windows performs better. Again, I happen to have a 2GHZ, so it does not matter if it's Win98, 2k, Slackware, Mandrake, they all run great.

And just the record, Win2k _is_ just as stable as Linux. Perhaps not as secure, but since you guys like to spend days compiling Gentoo, a few minutes setting a firewall up and a few registries tweaks is no big deal.

There're very very feel peoples that I know unhappy with win2k. Peoples do, complain about Microsoft dumping support for older Windows versions as 98, but let's face it, since I jumped into Linux, Mandrake has released at least 4 distributions in one year. 9.0, 9.1, 9.2 and 10.0. That's the amount of Windows released by Microsoft since 98... And win98 has a good support up to DirectX 9.1b, meaning that you can play _any_ games with it. Mandrake 9.1, for that matter, has very few near ftp's near my country that I can use with urpmi. Talking about support. And unlike Mandrake 9.0, 9.1 and 9.2, Win 98 and 2k had a huge difference into the main core.(win98 is dos based, while 2k is NT based).

As Linus once said: "Microsoft is not evil, they just make buggy Operating Systems". I second that...

Again, no flame intended to Linux. I think it runs as great as Windows in new machines and just as easy to use... One (Linux or Windows) does _not_ kick the other (Linux or Windows) arses by any means. If Linux is great in something, Windows is great in another and we just have to live with that
 
Old 05-16-2004, 12:59 PM   #15
vectordrake
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Back to the original question about getting Linux to actually work on this architecture....

I bet if you tried a Distro from the same time frame as the hardware, you'd have better luck at a fast and compatible system.

Look at the bottom of this page. Slackware still hosts versions as far back as 3.3. Try version 4 or 7.

You may have luck with Debian Potato, since its more from the time. The Window environment, I believe was KDE 1.1 or 1.4. Something like that.

Quote:
....try putting XP on this box, I don't think you would be very satisfied either.
XP would puke that one out! The installer would all but laugh at you after it had started altering your filesystem. It'd stop and refuse to continue and possibly leave you in an unbootable state.

Mention of a 400mhz puter barfing on video? That's to be expected. With the compression rates that video is encoded these days, a 500mhz computer is considered minimum. Everything has to be tuned to its time. If you don't expect a 233 to be a multimedia box, but perhaps a websurfing email reader with wordprocessing capabilities, you'll be fine. Remember what the system could do when it was new. Don't ask much more form it and you'll always be happy

Last edited by vectordrake; 05-16-2004 at 01:07 PM.
 
  


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