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Old 05-11-2016, 06:55 PM   #1
archer5013
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Linux versions for older computers


Hi, I'm not a Linux user - yet.

I'm looking for versions that can run on a 1998 (eMachines Model 333id) PC with a 333Mhz Celeron CPU (Pentium 2, budget version), maxed out with 256Mb of RAM, motherboard-based VGA graphics and a PCI-based modem.

Presently it's running Windows XP - very slowly - installed on a 10Gb hard drive, accessing Internet via an Ethernet (PCI) card (from a Pentium-1 computer) ... because the Windows-98-SE installation only connects to Internet via dial-up modem or a Network.

A few days ago I searched here on phrases like "running Linux on old computers" and found some relevant responses, yet since then (curiously) have found fewer responses - but I didn't save the initial results - and because the machine was running so poorly, I reinstalled the OS a day or two ago, so this is a fresh start.

This PC is so slow running WinXP (with Service Pack 3 & Internet Explorer 8) - especially on Internet - that (for instance) can't even download & install Acrobat Reader to display some .pdf-based support and repair manuals, to help get another computer running.

About all I expect to do on this (333Mhz) PC is run word processors, do some file storage and use occasional Internet access - like now as a standby when newer and more able computers are needing repairs - like now, when there is nothing else available.

This old PC ran better on Windows 98 and on Internet by dial-up service, but I'm not inclined to pay $30 for a month's dial-up subscription which I'll (hopefully) only be using for a few more days (as I get another old computer working - a Dell XPS 630i).

Thanks in advance for everyone's support.

Last edited by archer5013; 05-12-2016 at 06:29 PM. Reason: update
 
Old 05-11-2016, 07:23 PM   #2
alberich
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I don't know the most slim linux.

But I suppose you use SumatraPDF http://www.sumatrapdfreader.org for PDF on WindowsXP.

That is 10 % the size of Adobe PDF Reader. No sane person should install a PDF Reader with a 70 MB Installation package. I am sure you can operate a nuclear plant or aircraft carrier safely with software of that size. Adobe should be liquidated for this barefacedness.
 
Old 05-11-2016, 07:37 PM   #3
notKlaatu
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I've revived very old computers with these distributions:

Slitaz: lightweight by default
Lubuntu: lightweight by default, easy to install and navigate.

Others:

Debian: can be extremely lightweight, through a custom install
Slackware: can be extremely lightweight, through a custom install
Puppy Linux: is very lightweight by default, can be a little difficult (in my experience) to install, since it seems to be designed primarily as a no-install distribution. A less hefty variant of it is Salix.
BSD: many BSD's (which aren't Linux, but worth mentioning) can be quite lightweight by default

The bottom line, really, is that nearly *any* Linux distribution can be lightweight, and to get something to be especially lightweight, custom installs are usually best because you can leave out all the heavy stuff and just install the bare minimum. But try the first two I mention, first, and see how you go.

I strongly recommend using "x" apps (xpdf, xcalc, and so on) where possible. They tend to be a lot faster than alternatives. I run lots of them on a 2004 Debian laptop, and they make things feel a lot faster.

Last edited by notKlaatu; 05-11-2016 at 07:43 PM. Reason: added URLs
 
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Old 05-11-2016, 07:49 PM   #4
ardvark71
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Hi Rob...

This is posted in the wrong forum, you should have posted it here. I'll request a moderator move this thread.

Last edited by ardvark71; 05-11-2016 at 08:00 PM. Reason: Changed punctuation mark.
 
Old 05-12-2016, 10:46 AM   #5
archer5013
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Thumbs up SumatraPDF recommendation

Quote:
Originally Posted by alberich View Post
SumatraPDF http://www.sumatrapdfreader.org for PDF on WindowsXP
That is 10 % the size of Adobe PDF Reader.
Thank you for this SumatraPDF recommendation and URL.

~ Rob
'Still lost in the Maine woods'
 
Old 05-12-2016, 10:55 AM   #6
Emerson
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256 MB of RAM, minus graphics memory leaves you with very little for GUI applications. When using a full browser as Firefox only one bloated web page can use up to 400 MB easy. You can run lightweight Linux on this box with lightweight GUI, but you also need a lightweight browser, your internet experience may not be what expected.
 
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Old 05-12-2016, 12:48 PM   #7
DavidMcCann
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As Emerson said, you have to deduct the graphics from that 256 MB. The BIOS of this computer allows you to set the reserved video memory to 32, 64, or 128 MB. Yours is probably the same, so it needs to be set to 32, leaving you with 224 MB.

AntiX will just run the Midori web-browser (don't even think about Firefox!) or the Abiword word-processor in 128 MB (I've done it). With your extra memory, you could use the rather more powerful LibreOffice Writer. AntiX recommends Pentium II as a minimum, so your computer will never be fast, but it will certainly be usable. You'll get a pdf viewer, too.

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

http://midori-browser.org/

http://abiword.org/
https://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/documentation/
 
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Old 05-12-2016, 02:29 PM   #8
ardvark71
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Hi Rob...

One distribution that might work well with your Pentium II system is Tiny Core Linux. You can view the Wikipedia article here.

No disrespect towards notKlaatu, but I use Lubuntu on a daily basis, the memory it needs is more than what your computer can give. For Lubuntu, I would recommend at least 2 GB's of memory. Slitaz might work but it could be a bit heavier on your system.

Regards...
 
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Old 05-12-2016, 09:41 PM   #9
wpeckham
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Smalll enough

I have used TimyCore (MultiCore), DSL, and Puppy on older low end computers and rarely been disappointed.
What you want to DO with the computer should guide you.

For VERY low end I run KolibriOS, which is NOT linux, but is VERY small and fast. The problem with it is that there is NO standard software available for it. Every application was specifically designed and written JUST for KolibriOS in assembler.
 
Old 05-13-2016, 02:41 AM   #10
sag47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerson View Post
256 MB of RAM, minus graphics memory leaves you with very little for GUI applications. When using a full browser as Firefox only one bloated web page can use up to 400 MB easy. You can run lightweight Linux on this box with lightweight GUI, but you also need a lightweight browser, your internet experience may not be what expected.
Yes there's a couple of light, memory friendly, browsers.

Dillo is probably the lightest other than the terminal browser "links" (or lynx). Dillo also does not have JavaScript which is why it is so light but won't work on many websites.

Last edited by sag47; 05-13-2016 at 02:42 AM.
 
Old 05-13-2016, 12:13 PM   #11
DavidMcCann
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Tiny Core would not be suitable. It's intended for creating minimal systems, not for minimal computers. For example, I said that I'd run Midori in under 128 MB using AntiX. With Tiny Core, that required 182 MB. For an explanation
http://www.linuxquestions.org/review...page/15/sort/7

As for Puppy, that needs at least 512 MB as it runs in RAM: the design makes running directly from an installation a security risk.

Non-Linux systems like Kolibri, Syllable, and Haiku are interesting, but not much use for some-one who needs a wordprocessor, unless they're happy with googledocs.
 
Old 05-13-2016, 03:53 PM   #12
Shadow_7
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Debian is always a safe bet. Although I did have to use a debian 7 kernel on a debian 8 install for my old 1GHz desktop. Whatever you run you'll probably have to install / boot from optical media since booting from USB wasn't much of a thing until 2006. You'll likely need to install the linux-image-486 kernel if you go debian or build your own depending on the hardware. I'd say try a couple until you get one that works. At which point you might have better choice of what you can install. Since a lot of distros have methods to install linux while running linux via chroot or virtualization.
 
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Old 05-13-2016, 08:16 PM   #13
sag47
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What peripherals does your computer have or support? Floppy (5.25" or 3.5")? Zip disk? CD drive? USB? Fire wire?

Last edited by sag47; 05-13-2016 at 08:19 PM.
 
Old 05-14-2016, 07:48 AM   #14
wpeckham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post

Non-Linux systems like Kolibri, Syllable, and Haiku are interesting, but not much use for some-one who needs a wordprocessor, unless they're happy with googledocs.
Actually Kolibrios has
Quote:
Tinypad - powerful word processor for programming
though that may not be what you want for serious documentation work. You make good points, but I would still try those. I have run them on more limited machines than his.

DSL has specifically selected packages for small disk size and small memory footprint. Often older versions, because newer ones are generally larger.

Most of the 'minimal resource' distros today are based upon packages that make 512M a minimum memory footprint. You CAN run many of them in less if you allocate excessive swap, but there will be performance issues.

I would run some of the live-cd images (and DSL, puppy, and TinyCore qualify) just to see how they act on that hardware. Most (not all) Linux distributions can be run in live-cd mode prior to installation. The most convenient way if from USB, but I agree with Shadow_7 that on that hardware you will likely be using a real CD.

I also agree with Shadow_7 that Debian would be an excellent bet. (Debian is ALWAYS a good bet!) The problem is that for a very minimal memory system install you are doing a minimal install that may offer only console, then installing select package sets to get very low resource desktop operations from there: not something I would suggest to someone without significant experience. It takes a bit more time, more research, and a lot more little steps to get it just right. For me, that would be fun. But I have done it before. Would that be fun for you?
 
Old 05-14-2016, 10:19 AM   #15
VamosBaby
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I am running (right now, to post this very message) on a Toshiba Tecra 8000 laptop with its RAM upgraded to the maximum it supports (256 MB), with a Pentium II Mobile @ 366 MHz CPU, and with a 20 GB IDE 2.5" HDD.

The operating system is Debian 3.1 "Sarge". Because I'm running an old kernel (highly customized) inherited from a Debian 3.0 "Woody" install on the same laptop, kernel version 2.4.22, the newest browsers compatible with this system are Iceweasel 2.0 and Opera 10. This means no HTML-5, no CSS-3... Also, JavaScript heavy web pages bog the system down, so I run with the NoScript addon in Iceweasel.

My recommendation: don't do what I'm doing, and just give up trying to access the "modern" web with a machine of this vintage.

Code:
# uname -rms
Linux 2.4.22 i686

# fdisk -l /dev/hda | grep Disk
Disk /dev/hda: 20.0 GB, 20003880960 bytes

# df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda3             4.6G  3.5G  871M  81% /
/dev/hda6             935M  461M  426M  52% /var
/dev/hda7             935M   13M  874M   2% /tmp
/dev/hda8             8.6G  2.5G  5.7G  30% /home

# free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           251        245          5          0         11         48
-/+ buffers/cache:        186         64
Swap:          486        242        243

# cat /proc/cpuinfo 
processor	: 0
vendor_id	: GenuineIntel
cpu family	: 6
model		: 6
model name	: Mobile Pentium II
stepping	: 10
cpu MHz		: 366.600
cache size	: 256 KB
fdiv_bug	: no
hlt_bug		: no
f00f_bug	: no
coma_bug	: no
fpu		: yes
fpu_exception	: yes
cpuid level	: 2
wp		: yes
flags		: fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 mmx fxsr
bogomips	: 730.72

# cat /etc/issue    
Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 \n \l

# dpkg -l iceweasel
Desired=Unknown/Install/Remove/Purge/Hold
| Status=Not/Installed/Config-files/Unpacked/Failed-config/Half-installed
|/ Err?=(none)/Hold/Reinst-required/X=both-problems (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name                             Version                          Description
+++-================================-================================-===========================
ii  iceweasel                        2.0.0.2+dfsg-3~dh.0              lightweight web browser based on Mozilla

# dpkg -l opera    
Desired=Unknown/Install/Remove/Purge/Hold
| Status=Not/Installed/Config-files/Unpacked/Failed-config/Half-installed
|/ Err?=(none)/Hold/Reinst-required/X=both-problems (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name                             Version                          Description
+++-================================-================================-===========================
ii  opera                            10.00.4585.gcc3.qt3              The Opera Web Browser
The computer runs great, but the modern web is not exactly its strength, if you know what I mean.
 
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