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Old 10-29-2004, 11:32 PM   #1
GoblinInventor
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Choosing a Distro (really old computers)


Here's the situation. I've got three computers that all need Linux installed on them, but they're quite old. By old I mean that one of them has a 30 disk Windows 95 install on it.

The first monster is a Gateway 2000 Colorbook, a bed-ridden laptop at this point (i.e. the battery is stuck in the compartment so it has to be plugged into the wall at all times, off the subject for a minute does anyone know why a CMOS would constantly reset to something other than the default? Very weird...). This puppy runs on an Intel 80486 (I told you it was old). This may not even be possible but I need an extremely user friendly version of Linux that can run on this machine (i.e. user friendly like WinXP or Mac OS X is user friendly).

The second of the bunch is a Mac Performa 575. The same stipulations must be followed in choosing a distro, very user friendly, imagine sending this computer to your 70 year old grandmother who's never seen a computer in her life, I want it that userfriendly (if that's not possible, can I get some options and the pros/cons?)

The third is a Performa 6400/200. This is probably the only one of the three that has any cross platform compatibility (hehe the glories of Mac based Microsoft Word... not ClarisWorks!!) which brings me to the third point, these systems don't have too much they need to do. Essentially they must word process and be able to send their documents via floppy disk to a PC or Mac and be able to print out the document (serious printer compatibility problems).

Anybody know if this is possible? Anyone have any suggestions at all? Any help you could give would be much appreciated. If you recommend a distro, could you please give me a website from which I can retrieve the data? Plus, if you could give recommendations that could be installed either by floppy or by CD (I may need to do this again... and some of the situations will not allow for CD installation...) So, feasible/infeasible? Ideas? Thanks in advance,

GoblinInventor
 
Old 10-30-2004, 06:20 AM   #2
musicman_ace
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Slack. Possibly debian, but Slack would be the safe choice. On all
 
Old 10-30-2004, 12:30 PM   #3
GoblinInventor
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Thanks musicman_ace,

Will these work solo? From what I've read some of the distros that work on PPCs and older Macs can't run Linux alone (and they have to in this case, the harddrive on the Macs have to be wiped clean). So Slackware and Debian will work? How big are the distros? I was looking at DSL recently because it is really small and these computers have (I think, except the Performa 6400/200) about 300-400 Mgs of HHD space. Any idea on which release of either would be best? Sorry for the questions, I'm a and this is all very new to me, though I won't have any trouble installing Linux, it's going to be finding the distro that's ultra-user friendly (read: not for me, for someone computer illiterate). Anyway, thanks so much for the info!

GoblinInventor
 
Old 10-30-2004, 03:43 PM   #4
sparrish
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I've got a similar situation with some old machines. I've recently acquired about 40 Pentium I boxes from a company in my area that recently went out of business. I would like to load some flavor of linux onto them and resell them as low cost home pcs, mainly for web use and some simple games for kids. What I need is something that will be lightweight enough that it will run fairly efficiently, and I can clean up the install so that the users won't have to deal with much that they are unfamiliar with. So what distro would you guys recommend for such a project? I've been using Mandrake 9.2 exclusively for about a year, so I've got a pretty good idea of what I'm doing. I just want to be able to set up all these other machines so that new people can get some use out of them without getting confused. Also, after getting one set up the way I want it, I would like to make an install script to duplicate the installation on the rest of the machines. I know this sounds like a tall order, but I'm sure it can be done. Thanks in advance for any reccommendations.
 
Old 10-30-2004, 04:14 PM   #5
scheidel21
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old machines

Slackware will probably make the most of your older machines. THe problem isn't so much the processing power but the amount of RAM. Gnome and KDE require like 64MB of RAM to operate well. YOu can use a minimalistic window manager and seperate file manager, however, they will likely be far from as intuitive as MACOS and WinXP, the powerPC 200 rig should handle any distro with gnome or KDE ok. but the other two will be more of an issue. IF you can find an older distro version that might suit you well, perhaps a 2.2 or 2.0 kernel. I wish you luck, if you didn't need a GUI I would say just about any distro would work well the CLI takes up so few resources it would be ideal. I run a linux server from and old PPC 180 MHz with 112MB Ram and a 10Gig HD just fine, but I don't run a GUI. Another thing too the only way to get the macs to boot linux are either hack it, run a boot disk, or use a manager like bootx which requires a minimal version of MACOS to be loaded.

Alex
 
Old 10-30-2004, 07:27 PM   #6
GoblinInventor
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Thanks scheidel21, the info was tremendously helpful, and I'll have to chew on it for awhile. OK, so I'll go and get some slackware disks made. Any idea on the legality of hacking the Mac? I wouldn't really care too much (I doubt Apple would either) except that I have to be quite caredul in this case. Also if it's legal is there any chance of directing me to the correct place to get the info? And with the boot disk, after the system has started the disk can be removed correct? Unfortunately the minimal Mac OS won't work because the hard drive of all the computers has to be cleaned completely before they can be used (legal ramifications due to licensing), unless there's some legal way to get hold of the Mac OS for free (though I'd doubt there is). Anywho, thanks for the help guys, it's much appreciated.
 
Old 10-31-2004, 12:06 AM   #7
scheidel21
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It's not so much hacking the mac as getting into the ROM in the older macs the rom firmare booted directly to a mac os becuase software and hardware were from the same vendor. YOu will have to do a search online but you should be able to find the info somewhere, and no there shouldn't be any legal issues.
 
Old 10-31-2004, 12:08 AM   #8
scheidel21
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oops didnt answer your question completely....yea it would be far easier to use a boot disk, it will be created when you install linux. IF they just have the disk in there when they boot, they can take it out after the OS has loaded...all the boot disk is, is a bootloader. So OS on it or anything it just tells the mac to vbypass the ROM
 
Old 10-31-2004, 12:10 AM   #9
scheidel21
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as far as legality goes.....is the MACOS running on the MACs now running on another machine? If not the license is transferable to the new owner in which case it is perfectly legal to have it installed, and with a little partitionin you could have a small MAC boot and then no boot disk no hacking etc...
 
Old 10-31-2004, 12:20 AM   #10
GoblinInventor
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Thanks again for the info,

Yah, the problem with the license is it's a district license (aka school/education licensing) so yah... it'd be illegal to transfer the stuff into private hands. So yah it needs the wipe, and I need to get my hands dirty. Ah well, I need the practice anyway. Not sure at this point if Slackware is going to work in the little Performa 575 (33 Mhz, 4 Mgs of RAM, under 500 Mgs of space on the HardDrive). It might just get the boot, I'll take a shot though. The Performa 6400/200 will be getting its Slack on almost assuredly, and the Gateway 2000 Colorbook is going to get DSL, solely because DSL allows me to install an operating system on 50 Mgs of space (with a computer that has about 325 or so to it's name...). If anyone knows of any truly horrible reason why this won't work (or why I should make a different decision... aka if DSL is horrifically unuserfriendly or if there's a more userfriendly distro then I've chosen in any case (provided the distro will work)). Anywho, getting nearer and nearer to dirting my hands... the clock ticks away.

Thanks guys!
BackToReality
 
Old 10-31-2004, 12:52 AM   #11
robert644
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recall that you need a distro that supports 68000 series chips, i think debian only supports mac ppc chips (g3, g4 etc)

when i was looking at putting linux on an old mac powerbook, well, i basically gave up as i couldn't find anything that looked stable enough to mess with

as far as you colorbook goes, i am running slackware 10 on 2 486 (dx2 and a dx4) notebook computers at the moment. the biggest issue is configuring X. with one of the notebooks i have to use Xfree86 3.3.6 as X.org has no drivers for the graphics chip in the machine !

as some of the above posters stated, running something like KDE or gnome is probably not even worth considering due to limited ram. try it for yourself. i tried to run mozilla on my machine with 16mb ram (486dx4), with no window manager or desktop enviroment running - just mozilla and X.

took 20 minutes to load and start mozilla.
 
Old 10-31-2004, 01:47 AM   #12
GoblinInventor
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Yah, that's the problem I'm worried about. Thanks for the info. Basically all I need these machines to do is word process and be able to save to a disk (other Office-esque functions would be good, but this just needs to be able to perform very simple tasks). The only other stipulation is that whatever this thing puts out must be readable by Macs and PCs (because these computers won't have printers). If that gives anybody a start of inspiration, one of those "Oohh! I know I know!" moments, please tell me. Anywho, thanks for all the info guys, didn't expect this much

BackToReality

Also, what GUI do you use without KDE or Gnome? (I unfortunately can't leave them without GUI's... those are very unfriendly to the computer illiterate)
 
Old 10-31-2004, 01:51 AM   #13
robert644
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what are the processor speed / ram / cpu types of these machines ?

if all you want to do is word process with a gui, save to a text file, and you don't care about text fomatting with different fonts and such, then that is possible, at least on the x86 machine - i have no experience with linux on mac.

http://www.linux-m68k.org/

were the perfomas power pc or 68k processors ?
 
Old 10-31-2004, 01:05 PM   #14
scheidel21
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hmmm

Have you considered seeing if you can find an old mac distro like system 6 or 7? YOu could probably find someone willing to gove it away or very very cheap. But if that's not an option, what about forgoing a gui, and creating like a bash script with a menu on the screen? So the user starts computer then is presented with a menu user types word and presses enter starts up word processor. The only catch is finding a user friendly office applications, there are some but I don't know of any of the top of my head. I'm sure you can find one that allows use of the mouse in the office apps. Just simple words and an enter key then the word processor or spreadsheet, or whatever loads, and then thy can quit and use another word and enter to shutdown computer. I used it with an old DOS machine and it worked well. Well good luck again.

Alex
 
Old 10-31-2004, 02:45 PM   #15
robert644
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mac os 7.5 is a free download from apple's website, or 7.4.1 or something, the last release before os 8.

recall that before GUI, people only used text based interfaces, regarding schiedel21's comment. a text user interface, TUI, can be just as easy to learn as a GUI, and some would argue that it is easier. An editor such as PICO or NANO may just make a fine word processor. Those were considered to be very easy and user friendly in a time when people were much more computer illiterate than they are today.
 
  


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