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I am new to Linux, Have some older PC's that I use to run useful programs that won't run on XP. Decided to learn Linux. Downloaded Ubuntu 7.4 Am trying to learn as much as possible before installing. Have I made a bad choice? Do I need to have a newer PC? Or will these golden oldies work OK for this purpose?
Dell Optiplex GX1 Pentium II 350mhz 512Meg RAM
Toshiba Pentium II 330mhz 256Meg RAM
for basic email, web browsing, coding, low res image editing, listening to mp3s that spec will do fine and will be fine for loads of other stuff.
What it is not good for is encoding videos, playing games, video editing etc.
so the real question is what do you want to run Linux for ?
I don't see any problem in running Linux on these machines, except for the RAM consuming Desktop Environments, like Gnome or KDE. However, you may consider Xubuntu (just an option) which runs Xfce, a desktop specifically designed for older machines.
I'd suggest also to try a LiveCD distribution, like Knoppix, to test your hardware without actually install anything. Knoppix is perhaps the LiveCD distribution with the greater variety of drivers included: a good starting point to test hardware compatibility and to see linux at work! I think there is also a LiveCD version of Ubuntu.
Thank You for your replies,
As for what I use it for. I actually have 3 GX1's and the Toshiba that I bought for $40.00 Total. I use them for playing around, hobby stuff, old stuff. Not into video games at this time. Have newer PC's for the college kids. Bought my wife a new laptop for her birthday. Boss bought me a new (1 month old PC) for work. These are just my playthings and for learning. I will get the live CD's. Thanks much.
The good news is that you have plenty of RAM--an unusually high amount of RAM for computers that old/slow. Unfortunately, the processor speed is relatively slow. Ubuntu will work fine on either of them, but it's going to be more sluggish than what you're used to (assuming a lean Windows 98 install). There are a number of things you can do to boost performance.
Most notably, you can turn off font anti-aliasing. Out-of-box, Linux fonts are pretty ugly when anti-aliasing is turned off. Apparently, you can tweak Linux fonts to look like Windows fonts; I've never done it since I personally think Windows fonts are horribly ugly. However, many others like how Windows fonts look and they figured out how to tweak Linux fonts to look the same (there's a thread about this very thing in these forums somewhere).
Another thing you can do to boost performance is to use a lightweight file manager, like xfe (which is similar to Windows Explorer). PCManFM is another relatively lightweight file manager--not as zippy as xfe but it's GtK integrated and has some nice features like tabbed browsing. Rox filer is a lightweight file manager which is a bit too quirky for my tastes (it's more Mac-like, and I prefer a more Windows-like file manager).
But if I were you, I'd just stick with the out-of-box stuff for now, and live with the sluggishness. A couple programs you'll want to check out are "Wine" and maybe "dosbox"--programs capable of running old Windows and DOS programs. The reason is that if you can get Linux to run your old Windows/DOS programs, then you'll be able to use it to run your old programs on your NEW computer!
Setting up dual boot between Linux and Windows XP is pretty easy, and I've had situations where I actually installed Linux just to be able to run an old Windows program that won't run in XP.
I run a very minimal Linux firewall distribution on an Intel Celeron 600, 192 MB ram, and it takes about three minutes to boot. What you are looking at is running a command line system, with no graphical desktop, which is good for doing a lot of stuff, just not as a desktop computer terminal. You can make web servers, firewalls, print servers, time servers, file servers, backup servers, or any of a number of other specialized task machines; but when I saw how slow a Celeron 600 was with a 2.4 kernel loading basically nothing but ethernet card drivers I knew this was not a good desktop machine, so I turned it into a dedicated firewall. The machines you are talking about are even slower, and although they are computers they are painfully slow at graphical type tasks. I would recommend trying Debian Woody with no graphical installation.
if learning is your goal, i would jump right in with both feet and install slackware and debian on those computers, with a minimal GUI like fluxbox, openbox, icewm, etc. -- anything but kde or gnome. not only will you learn a ton more than you probably would with ubuntu, but the computers will be a lot snappier, too.
I had Ubuntu Breezy and Dapper (still supported) on almost exactly the same specs. Only 384MB ram. Performance was acceptable. Xubuntu is always a good idea. Anywho... you can install any distribution you like with a lighter window manager.
I would say you almost have to try DSL at some point. It's incredibly fast.
I would like to add to what others have said, all of which is good. I would recommend using Puppy 2.16. It will fly on your old computers. If you don't mind "no-frills" desktop also Fluxbuntu and Feather Linux would run fine on your hardware. They use the Fluxbox desktop which I think is OK. Stay away from Open Office use the lightweight stuff instead like Abiword instead. With most live CD Linux distributions you will have to doing a little configuring, like setting the screen resolution, mouse type, time zone, ect. On Fluxbox you don't have a start button. You right click your mouse anywhere on the screen to get the menu. Read all the screens that come up and if it says push the F1 or F2 button for more options read those as well. At first I had trouble installing some Linux because I didn't read everything. I don't know if I am talking out of turn so I apologize in advance. But I would gladly mail you at no charge some live CDs you could have and try. If this is not against the rules of the forum and you are interested email me you address. One of my email addresses is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The one with 512MB of RAM should run Xubuntu ok. But the other I'll have to agree with j0hnnyb0y....go with Puppy, or Damn Small Linux, or some of the other lightweight distros. Trust me, on that hardware, they will fly compared to Xubuntu/Ubuntu. Now it's not to say that Xubuntu won't run, it'll just be kinda sluggish....but with a smaller distro it will indeed respond very quickly.
Seems that most folks have suggested going with something lighter-weight. I'll buck that trend, sort of: I suggest that since you've already downloaded Ubuntu, go ahead and install it. Your intention is to learn about Linux on these older systems, and this will help. Once you're somewhat used to Ubuntu, you may discover things you don't like and/or things you want done better. That's when a different Linux distribution, or desktop environment, or whatever is lighter-weight will come into play. At that point, it's ideal to try something else now that you know what one particular installation (Ubuntu) looks like.
Wow, this is incredible. I've not seen such willingness to help a newbie before. Now I'm more than ever determined to learn all I can so I can pay you all back. Or maybe I should pay it forward. That is provide what help I can to others who follow behind me.
Thank you all so much for the great info. I will study each suggestion and probably try most of them at least once in order to learn all I can.