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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?

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Old 09-24-2011, 12:38 PM   #1
bwgolling
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Older pcs -- down for the count?


Ever since the first days of linux, one of the biggest boasts was that we no longer had to throw our old machines into the trash. Linux will run on anything!
Since then I have enjoyed gathering old and used pcs and making them viable again (at least for me).
Now all the distros seem to be moving to gnome3 or unity, and if your hardware can't handle 3d then you must use the lesser alternative.

Does all this mean that the olders computers are to be forced to run old versions of linux (just like windows users had to stick with XP or buy a new computer)

I must say that if I'm forced to buy a new computer I'll probably go with the newest version of windows (just saying)

Can anyone offer me some good news about what I am missing here. Will there be a solution for this lack of 3-d acceleration?
 
Old 09-24-2011, 12:51 PM   #2
TobiSGD
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You don't have to use older distributions, and you also don't have to use Gnome 3 or Unity. Just use XFCE, LXDE, Enlightenment or one of the many WMs on a recent distro. For example, you can use Xubuntu, Lubuntu or Bodhi, all based on Ubuntu.
There are also distributions aimed at older hardware, that use recent versions of the installed software.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 12:53 PM   #3
EricTRA
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Hello,

The good news is that Linux is all about choices. The choices you make. Although the more recent distros use Gnome3, Unity, KDE all in the latest possible versions, there are still a lot of distros around that use more lightweight desktop environments and still be based on the latest technology and use the latest kernels. You can even start from a Debian netinstall and only install what you need. Go with Xfce, OpenBox, LXDE, Blackbox. Have a look at Crunchbang for example, Puppy Linux or Salix. I'm sure you'll be surprised! You don't need to follow anything or anyone if you don't want to. It's all up to you to make the choice. Gnome and KDE tend to make a distro pretty 'bloated' in my opinion which weighs heavy on your resources.

Kind regards,

Eric

Last edited by EricTRA; 09-24-2011 at 12:56 PM.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 12:57 PM   #4
H_TeXMeX_H
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwgolling View Post
Now all the distros seem to be moving to gnome3 or unity, and if your hardware can't handle 3d then you must use the lesser alternative.
If by 'all the distros' you mean *buntu, then you are right. Otherwise, it's not true.

Try slackware, debian, centos, gentoo, they can all be installed on older machines. Do be aware, tho that it depends on how old is old. Ancient machines will be problematic.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 01:00 PM   #5
bwgolling
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Thanks for the advice. I should have mentioned that I have tried a LOT of distros and wms and realize that, yes that is probably the direction I will have to take.
I was bemoaning the fact that I liked gnome better than the rest and that while xfce is pretty good, it is still not gnome.
oh well, such is life.
thanks again.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 02:06 PM   #6
snowpine
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Gnome Foundation made the decision to release Gnome 3 and drop support for Gnome 2, and there is nothing that any of the different distributions can do about it.

There are plenty of distros that still support Gnome 2 (Ubuntu LTS, Debian Stable, Red Hat, CentOS, Mint, etc.) if you prefer. Eventually they will drop support as well, once their release cycle comes around again.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 08:47 PM   #7
FredGSanford
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I also like putting a Debian netinst on older machines, I've recently installed Squeeze on two machines, one with 90mb of memory and the other one with 384mb of mem. I also put LXDE on them since I like Gnome 2 and want a lighter DE. IMO, lxde is close to Gnome and uses some of its library files.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 10:10 PM   #8
ComputerErik
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwgolling View Post
Thanks for the advice. I should have mentioned that I have tried a LOT of distros and wms and realize that, yes that is probably the direction I will have to take.
I was bemoaning the fact that I liked gnome better than the rest and that while xfce is pretty good, it is still not gnome.
oh well, such is life.
thanks again.
I think that about sums it up, you PREFER Gnome. As has been mentioned the bigger desktops are moving to be bigger and fancier. The good news is that there are plenty of other great choices out there. You now need to make a decision, either use a lighter environment or buy newer hardware. Linux is still a great choice to get some more life out of aging hardware, especially for a server type of installation which uses only the command line.
 
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Old 09-24-2011, 10:17 PM   #9
elliott678
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Linux is still great for older systems. The thing is, a 500mhz PIII with 64mb of RAM is no longer an older system, it is an antique that is pretty much a waste of electricity to do anything with. Today an older system is at least a 1.5ghz single core with 512mb of RAM and most will have some form of 3D capable video card in them too.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 10:21 PM   #10
corp769
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elliott678 View Post
Linux is still great for older systems. The thing is, a 500mhz PIII with 64mb of RAM is no longer an older system, it is an antique that is pretty much a waste of electricity to do anything with. Today an older system is at least a 1.5ghz single core with 512mb of RAM and most will have some form of 3D capable video card in them too.
Technically, not really. My firewall is an old Pentium III with 256 MB of RAM, and it does the job just fine. It originally had 128 MB of RAM, so I upped it, and I use it for my ACL's on my network, along with routing and the DHCP server. I'm running two firewalls, one for IDS, and then of course that one. It has never let me down....
 
Old 09-24-2011, 10:24 PM   #11
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Hmmm - I recently needed to check the hard disk on an old (I mean *old*) laptop. Didn't support cmov.
None of the normal (FSVO "normal") distros had a kernel that would boot a liveCD.

Eventually the only one I could find was Tinycore. Even it had issues with the video, but I eventually got it done.

So yes, it looks like even Linux is treating old kit as disposable.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 10:28 PM   #12
elliott678
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corp769 View Post
Technically, not really. My firewall is an old Pentium III with 256 MB of RAM, and it does the job just fine. It originally had 128 MB of RAM, so I upped it, and I use it for my ACL's on my network, along with routing and the DHCP server. I'm running two firewalls, one for IDS, and then of course that one. It has never let me down....
Any idea how much electricity it is using? I'd guess at least 100 watts. A little Atom based system would do at least triple the amount of work at 1/10 the power. Look at those new Rasperry Pi things coming out, it can run Ubuntu and consumes 1 watt at full load.

You could potentially save money buying newer hardware.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 10:36 PM   #13
corp769
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elliott678 View Post
Any idea how much electricity it is using? I'd guess at least 100 watts. A little Atom based system would do at least triple the amount of work at 1/10 the power. Look at those new Rasperry Pi things coming out, it can run Ubuntu and consumes 1 watt at full load.

You could potentially save money buying newer hardware.
I know not a lot.... It's headless, and the PSU is no where near that much....
 
Old 09-24-2011, 10:51 PM   #14
elliott678
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Every PIII I've ever had produced a lot of heat, so I assume they are pulling a decent amount of power.

An Atom uses so little power can be passively cooled, the fan went out on my Atom powered EeePC 901 and it took me at least 3 days to even notice. It is on all the time and it is my main computer, it hit 70C when compiling for half an hour, still 20C under the alarm. It doesn't even have a real heatsink, just a thin piece of aluminum between the motherboard and the keyboard.

Anything over 10 watts for a home router is way too much.
 
Old 09-24-2011, 10:58 PM   #15
corp769
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elliott678 View Post
Every PIII I've ever had produced a lot of heat, so I assume they are pulling a decent amount of power.

An Atom uses so little power can be passively cooled, the fan went out on my Atom powered EeePC 901 and it took me at least 3 days to even notice. It is on all the time and it is my main computer, it hit 70C when compiling for half an hour, still 20C under the alarm. It doesn't even have a real heatsink, just a thin piece of aluminum between the motherboard and the keyboard.

Anything over 10 watts for a home router is way too much.
True that. Speaking of which, my main router for my wireless network is the WRT350N, and it does the job well with DD-WRT.

But on the topic of old computers, I have one that has an actual tape drive in it..... I really want to get it up and running
 
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