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Old 11-17-2012, 05:54 PM   #1
stelladeli
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Best Linux distro for old computer with a Pentium II 300MHz CPU and 196MB of RAM?


Okay, firstly hello,it's very nice to meet you all!!! I'm not even fully a beginner yet, so bear with me please!

I've been searching endlessly for 3 days in a row now(reading countless of forums, articles, watching a lot of tutorials) for the Linux distribution that would suit my old computer best. What I'm trying to find is a user-friendly, with a satisfying Office (similar to MS Office 2000 which is installed at the moment), stable and fast OS that would revive my old pc, currently running Windows 98 with some issues!
Again the system specs are: Pentium II 300MHz CPU , 196MB of RAM , above 4GB HDD space(but below 5GB).

From what I've gathered, in these situations Puppy Linux is recommended. But is it possible that Crunchbang or Zorin OS would do better, granted that I want to install Linux on the HDD rather than working with the LiveCD? Would Xubuntu/Lubuntu hold too?
I also read that Debian is for the more advanced Linux user, so should I stay away from it even though it's lighter?
What is your more experienced estimation/best recommendation?

Offtopic: I want to get something out of the way.
When I start the pc I get a BIOS message that says: "CPU is unworkable or has been changed,check CPU Soft menu". Can this be due to tweaks or overclocking the CPU in the BIOS settings? If I press F1, then the pc boots normally to Windows.
Will this affect any Linux installation? I'll try getting this fixed by entering the BIOS, ASAP.

Thank you all in advance for your time and effort!!!

Last edited by stelladeli; 11-18-2012 at 04:49 AM.
 
Old 11-17-2012, 06:07 PM   #2
markush
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Hello stelladeli, welcome to LQ,

you've already found out what the problem is. A modern distribution which is known to be userfriendly (and newbie-friendly) will not run on this computer. The distributions which will run on it, are less userfriendly.

If the computer will have internet-access it would be good to have recent software running (because of the security). If the machine will not be connected to the internet, you could simply take a distribution(version) which is about 10-12 years old. For example an old version of Slackware or debian.

For a recent version of (for example) Slackware, the harddisk is too small. It would be good if you could put more RAM and a bigger disk in the computer.

Markus
 
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:14 PM   #3
TobiSGD
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Puppy is something that I would not recommend for such a system. It doesn't make any sense to run a system completely in RAM on low-RAM machines. I would rather put antiX on such a machine.
But seriously, you won't have much fun with that machine, I would recommend to try to get a better system. I don't know the situation in Greece, but here in Germany nobody wouldn't care to run such a machine (except maybe for special purposes) even if it is a gift and you can get much better used machines for zero money (or almost zero) money that will run current and fully fledged distributions.
 
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:21 PM   #4
rokytnji
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A guy in greece made this distro.

http://antix.mepis.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

Might give it a shot.
 
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:22 PM   #5
snowpine
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Welcome to the forums!
What you are describing is not an absolute beginner project in my opinion. Best to recycle your pentium 2 and purchase an inexpensive replacement from your local electronics store with Windows, Microsoft Office, etc. that will serve your needs well for many years.

If you are looking for fun educational Linux projects for old hardware, there are some good suggestions here: http://kmandla.wordpress.com/2007/09...-old-computer/
 
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:34 PM   #6
stelladeli
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Thank you very much for replying!
TobiSGD, rokytnji thanks for the advice, I think I'll give AntiX a try!!! Much Appreciated!

TobiSGD, My family and I had this computer for almost 14 years and it had been forgotten for a long long time. We actually thought that it was not working anymore. We were thinking of recycling it. Until I came across Puppy Linux, which claimed to be able to run in older computers. The question then was; how much older? Because having one more usable computer in the house is not a small thing!!!!!!

Still, I don't think the machine is faulty. There are some problems, but they're mostly associated with Windows 98. You cannot imagine how fast it was for such old hardware!!!

snowpine, I doubt I'll buy any Windows version. I've abandoned MS Office for quite a few years now, working exclusively with OpenOffice. I've been wanting to try Linux for 3 years now but never had the time to consume. Thanks for the link though!!!
 
Old 11-17-2012, 08:57 PM   #7
TobiSGD
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OpenOffice will be to much for that small system. IIRC, antiX comes with the combination of Abiword (word processing) and Gnumeric (spreadsheets), which are far more lightweight.
 
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Old 11-17-2012, 10:09 PM   #8
malekmustaq
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Quote:
Again the system specs are: Pentium II 300MHz CPU , 196MB of RAM , above 4GB HDD space(but below 5GB).
Well enough to run Gnu/Linux. This type of unit may not win a race but it can run forever.

Quote:
What is your more experienced estimation/best recommendation?
Try Absolute Linux v. 12.2 here.
The nice thing with this distro is that for their version 12.2 there was a repackaged Open Office (I think it was open-office-version 2.3) light enough to run on an aged machine --you are on for an open office right? Try that version. I have sensed that recently under Absolute Linux version 14 doesn't pack an OO anymore. (I'm not sure though.) As a matter of experience I have always solved satisfactorily dealing with an aged machine using Absolute Linux. Try your self, the link leads you to an ftp site for the iso.

Quote:
Will this affect any Linux installation? I'll try getting this fixed by entering the BIOS, ASAP.
It is pointless to overclock an old machine. (viagra is not advisable for the much aged . ) Try go to the BIOS and set the system to Default values. I think F10 or F11 can do that whatever is applicable in yours.

BTW, Absolute Linux installation is wholly patterned after the Slackware. So you can "omit" some programs from installing by the mere "ticks" among the choices. Usually I lighten up the burden by loading merely necessary KDE libraries but certainly "exclude --tick away" KDE office and other applications not necessary to my purpose. You have complete control over what which to install, although it can take time for a newbie you will enjoy anyway as part of experiencing Gnu/Linux installation.

Hope that helps.

Good luck.

Last edited by malekmustaq; 11-17-2012 at 10:16 PM.
 
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:39 AM   #9
cascade9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stelladeli View Post
From what I've gathered, in these situations Puppy Linux is recommended.
Theres always people aroudn suggesting puppy...IMO its not the best distro for low RAM older machines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stelladeli View Post
But is it possible that Crunchbang or Zorin OS would do better, granted that I want to install Linux on the HDD rather than working with the LiveCD? Would Xubuntu/Lubuntu hold too?
Cruchbang might work...zorin, no way. It wont even install on that system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stelladeli View Post
I also read that Debian is for the more advanced Linux user, so should I stay away from it even though it's lighter?
What is your more experienced estimation/best recommendation?
Desbian used to be harder than it is now.

A lot of the reason why debian is meant to be 'harder' is becasue of the install process for closed drivers (eg for video, wireless). Your system is so old it probably wotn have wireless at all (a godd thing IMO) and if there is an old ATI/nVidia video card in there the closed drivers wotn be supported on many, if any, of the current distros.

I'd be trying anitx.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stelladeli View Post
Offtopic: I want to get something out of the way.
When I start the pc I get a BIOS message that says: "CPU is unworkable or has been changed,check CPU Soft menu". Can this be due to tweaks or overclocking the CPU in the BIOS settings? If I press F1, then the pc boots normally to Windows.
Will this affect any Linux installation? I'll try getting this fixed by entering the BIOS, ASAP.
Possibly to do with overclocking in the past. Far more likely you have a flat BIOS battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markush View Post
If the computer will have internet-access it would be good to have recent software running (because of the security). If the machine will not be connected to the internet, you could simply take a distribution(version) which is about 10-12 years old. For example an old version of Slackware or debian.
Dont. Just dont.

Hard toget the old versions, the older versions (at least of debian, I wont speak for slackware) is harder to setup than newer distros, even distros made to be run on limited hardware like that (eg antix).
 
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:14 AM   #10
stelladeli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malekmustaq
Try Absolute Linux v. 12.2 here.
--you are on for an open office right?
BTW, Absolute Linux installation is wholly patterned after the Slackware. So you can "omit" some programs from installing by the mere "ticks" among the choices.
I think I'm very interested in this distro!!! Sounds perfect to me! Yeah, OO would be great as long as it can run smoothly, because it does not consist only of Word Processor and Spreadsheets.(MS Office 2000 runs neatly in my Windows 98 pc so I wouldn't worry too much about OO).
So, you think I'll be able to install it? The optional installation of some programs is done through the autoinstall or the manual one?
Quote:
Originally Posted by malekmustaq
It is pointless to overclock an old machine. (viagra is not advisable for the much aged . )
LOL, I know right!!! I have the impression that an Information systems technician, who is a friend of ours, tried to upgrade the pc or just make it faster by overclocking the CPU(it's indeed a lot faster than I remember it!)-I was only a small kid back then and I believe that we didn't own another pc or laptop.-
Quote:
Originally Posted by malekmustaq
Hope that helps.
Good luck.
Yes, you've been extremely helpful, thank you very very much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9
Cruchbang might work...
Okay, I'll leave crunchbang out of the competition then.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9
I'd be trying anitx.
Thanks for the suggestion!!! Yes there's no wireless and I haven't tried connecting to the internet at all through LAN cable. I don't really mind getting an older distro, but not so old that I won't be able to use it, not to mention install it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cascade9
Possibly to do with overclocking in the past. Far more likely you have a flat BIOS battery.
Yes, I believe what you mentioned first to be the case. I'll try setting the system to Default values as malekmustaq said.


General Questions:
1.The pc has a USB port.The problem is that even if I connect a mouse to it (much less a USB disk) Windows does not recognise it and tries finding a driver. The thing is I haven't checked for internet connection and I don't have a driver on CD. My question is, will the system recognise USB devices after a Linux installation? I mean are there USB drivers in Absolute Linux or AntiX?
2.Provided that a Linux distro has the appropriate USB drivers, before doing an installation, just from the LiveCD, will I be able to mount the hard disk, copy its files on the USB(hopefully workable) and then do a full Linux installation on the HDD??? -I'm really not sure if anything I'm saying makes any sense, you guys need to be awarded with a Medal of Tolerance of us inquisitive newbies!!!-

Thank you all for your patience

Last edited by stelladeli; 11-18-2012 at 08:16 AM.
 
Old 11-18-2012, 08:30 AM   #11
markush
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stelladeli View Post
...
General Questions:
1.The pc has a USB port.The problem is that even if I connect a mouse to it (much less a USB disk) Windows does not recognise it and tries finding a driver. The thing is I haven't checked for internet connection and I don't have a driver on CD. My question is, will the system recognise USB devices after a Linux installation? I mean are there USB drivers in Absolute Linux or AntiX?
That's no problem with Linux. The problem with Windows is that in the late 90s USB wasn't supported by default from Microsoft.
Quote:
2.Provided that a Linux distro has the appropriate USB drivers, before doing an installation, just from the LiveCD, will I be able to mount the hard disk, copy its files on the USB(hopefully workable) and then do a full Linux installation on the HDD??? -I'm really not sure if anything I'm saying makes any sense, you guys need to be awarded with a Medal of Tolerance of us inquisitive newbies!!!-
...
This will work. Most liveCDs will mount your harddrive automatically. Mounting a USB-memory-device isn't a problem as well.

Markus
 
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:06 AM   #12
Maikl
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Γεια σας, stelladeli. Another newb here, and a bit late to the party, but I've also been looking recently at putting Linux on an old PC. I managed to get Puppy on to HDD but it was none too easy (as Puppy isn't designed for that), I found Slitaz went on first time and seemed to work OK. Attractive appearance but a few minor niggles, like no option I could find to set the time to EET, it might be worth a look / try.

http://www.slitaz.org/en/about/
 
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:35 AM   #13
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stelladeli View Post
(MS Office 2000 runs neatly in my Windows 98 pc so I wouldn't worry too much about OO).
Office 2000, as the name states, was made in ancient times and designed to run good on computers from that time. OO is a modern office suite that is designed to run on modern computers, not ancient ones. So i wouldn't count on modern versions of OO to run well on that machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maikl
I found Slitaz went on first time and seemed to work OK. Attractive appearance but a few minor niggles, like no option I could find to set the time to EET, it might be worth a look / try.
The "problem" with Slitaz is the same as with Puppy (and Tinycore and any other distro of that kind): It loads its filesystem into RAM, "stealing" the RAM from the applications, were it should be on low RAM machines. While those distros run fine (and some of them are intended to) on older machines they are not designed for being run on low-RAM systems. Old does not have to mean low-RAM. If the OP's system would have 512MB of RAM I would recommend those distros, too, but not with only 192MB.
 
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:45 AM   #14
snowpine
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^--- SliTaz now has a "low ram" option that allows you to boot "live" without loading the filesystem to RAM (but you can't release the CD). I once installed (an older release of) SliTaz and RAM usage was around 25mb at idle.

However I still recommend to purchase newer hardware as mentioned above; SliTaz on a Pentium 2 is no way to live life in 2012 in these days of $25 Raspberry Pi's or "free with 2 year activation" iPhones! (either of which has vastly superior hardware specs than the Pent. 2)
 
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:56 AM   #15
rmknox
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Just a thought
Since you are going to wipe out the contents of your win98 disk - instead of doing that you might buy a replacement disk. Here in the states you can get BIG old disks for less than $25 delivered. Then try various op systems on a disk big enough to process any of them. I recently bought a 80 or 90 gb disk for about $20 delivered.

You can install the new disk and leave the old disk on. Then at boot time you tell it which one to boot. My current bios does his at F11. You can tell the bios which is the default. To get to the bios on my current system used delete key.
I still have my old win98SE disk installed - almost never boot it anymore - but access it from fedora.
 
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