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Old 03-25-2012, 08:35 PM   #1
linuxnoob2012
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Question Looking for a distribution for low-spec PC


I am looking for an operating system to install on an old PC. I am not really interested in upgrading the RAM or any other component because I am not in need of another PC. I just thought it would be fun to give the old notebook some purpose besides collecting dust. Since Windoze XP cannot even fit on the hard disk with SP3 and all of its other updates, let alone extra software, I have turned to Linux.

When I say low-spec, I am not joking; the system's specifications are as follows:
-233 megahertz Intel PentiumII with MMX
-64 megabytes of RAM
-3.5-4 gigabyte hard disk
-PC card external linksys wireless network adapter

Requirements (must-haves):
-GUI
-install to HDD
-free & open source
-word processing software
-compatibility with some sort of external storage (floppy/USB thumbdrive)

Requests (wishlist):
-compatibility with a USB thumbdrive
-graphical installer
-FAT filesystem support
-sound support

Wishful thinking list:
-networking and internet support
-a web browser


Any help is greatly appreciated.
 
Old 03-25-2012, 08:36 PM   #2
TobiSGD
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Try antiX, they claim that it can run in 64MB.
 
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:40 PM   #3
snowpine
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There are some great suggestions for older PC's on this blog:

http://kmandla.wordpress.com/2007/09...-old-computer/

My personally suggestion is #3 on the list: Recycle it.
 
Old 03-25-2012, 08:47 PM   #4
linuxnoob2012
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Thanks for replying so quickly. The download is currently in progress.


All suggestions are still welcome.
 
Old 03-25-2012, 08:54 PM   #5
jefro
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Slitaz may be a choice too.
 
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:59 PM   #6
TroN-0074
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ConnochaetOS sounds fun
Quote:
You can get the ISO at http://downloads.sourceforge.net/con...nnos-0.9.1.iso md5sum

About ConnochaetOS

ConnochaetOS is a free operating system for the desktop with old computers in mind but with modern lightweight software.

The name ConnochaetOS derives from “Connochaetes”, the scientific name for “Gnu”.
ConnochaetOS

contains only free software, according to the GNU Guidelines for Free System Distributions
follows the KISS principle (Keep it small and simple)
need as few resources as possible
is modern, but stable
feature:
a current Linux-Libre “LTS” kernel
eglibc, which is binary compatible to glibc
Xorg and typical desktop apps (office, web browser, multimedia)


Minimum hardware requirements are:

A i586 compatible processor (i. e. Pentium I)
At least 64 MB RAM
At least a 2 GB hard disk


We decided to base ConnochaetOS on Arch Linux, but completely rebuild, since we want to support i586, and replace some packages with our own ones, because of footprint, stability or freedom.

Any help is wanted and welcome. For more Information have a look at the forum
Here is the link with the information http://www.connochaetos.org/wiki/
Good luck to you.

Last edited by TroN-0074; 03-25-2012 at 10:02 PM.
 
Old 03-25-2012, 10:47 PM   #7
fr8train
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Wow! These are great ideas. I will become the owner of several older PC's that were running Win98 in the next couple of days and was wondering what I might do with them. Is Puppy a viable Linux OS for these machines?
 
Old 03-25-2012, 11:42 PM   #8
snowpine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fr8train View Post
Wow! These are great ideas. I will become the owner of several older PC's that were running Win98 in the next couple of days and was wondering what I might do with them. Is Puppy a viable Linux OS for these machines?
I took Puppy for a test-drive on my old 600mhz pentium 3 Dell laptop with 256mb ram, it ran fine. That was back around 2007-08; I am not sure whether the minimum system requirements have gone up in the 4-5 years since.

I've since replaced that old Pentium 3 with a $99 dual-core Atom "barebones" kit from newegg.com that outperforms it in every way, by a rather large margin. In 2012 it is easy to buy a refurbished/2nd-hand/barebones computer with 1ghz+ CPU and 1gb+ RAM for under $100 (possibly for free if you know where to look).

"Moore's Law" postulates that it requires 64 to 128 typical 1998 computers to match the computing power of a typical 2012 computer. For example the OP's computer has 64mb RAM while the typical desktop of today has 4,096-8,192mb; I am not an expert on CPU benchmarking but would expect a similar ratio in the range of 1/64 to 1/128th.

Last edited by snowpine; 03-25-2012 at 11:46 PM.
 
Old 04-02-2012, 08:09 PM   #9
linuxnoob2012
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Sorry for not replying sooner.


Here is the current status of my little experiment:
-Slitaz: the CD failed to boot up
-AntiX: the CD failed to boot up (hung after text/terminalish startup)
-Connochaetos: Booted and installed correctly

Interestingly enough, I had tried Connochaetos before posting here, but was unable to get my speakers or thumbdrive working. That was when I decided to post here.

Currently, Connocheatos is installed on the PC. It works OK with regards to performance, etc. With a little tinkering with fstab and the mount command, I was able to get my thumbdrive and floppy disk drive to work. However, I am still unable to get sound working with GnomeMplayer, or any other application for that matter. Any suggestions to this end? As for networking, well, there was a reason why I put that on the wishful thinking list.


Much thanks to those who have offered suggestions.
 
Old 04-02-2012, 10:55 PM   #10
TobiSGD
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Without knowing which wireless hardware you have we won't be able to help with that (the command lspci may help, I don't know if it works for PCMCIA devices), for the sound, have you started alsamixer and checked if the channels are not muted?
 
Old 04-03-2012, 08:00 AM   #11
anticapitalista
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If you only have 64MB RAM, you will need a swap partition. Do you have one? I'm interested if you tried booting antiX with an already existing swap. You can also install antiX via the cli-installer, saves a lot of RAM.

Last edited by anticapitalista; 04-03-2012 at 08:01 AM.
 
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:21 PM   #12
linuxnoob2012
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The cli-installer worked (kudos to anticapitalista) and installed AntiX without major issues, though there were some lines in the terminal that mentioned some sort of page read errors. I was, admittably, somewhat afraid of a command line installer. But that fear was quickly put down when I discovered that it was actually easier and less pailful than some graphical installers (fewer wasted steps).

AntiX is like ConnochaetOS, except with more features (I installed the "full edition").

I had to format the swap-flagged partion as a Linux Swap for the swap to be recognized. Then, I used swapon /dev/sda1 to set up the swap.

As a consequence of this, my first boot was without any swap. It booted, and Abiword started (barely). I resorted to the magic Sysreq keys and Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to reboot after it hung.

As for networking, AntiX includes a neat little "windows wireless drivers" utility for loading Windows-only drivers. I plan to try that out using the disc that shipped with the card. Wish me luck.


Again, thanks to all who have bothered to reply.
 
Old 04-04-2012, 10:31 PM   #13
TobiSGD
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Before tinkering with Windows drivers on a Linux machine I would strongly recommend to have a look if there aren't any native drivers for that chip.
 
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Old 04-05-2012, 08:50 AM   #14
colinetsegers
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Hi. Some time ago I just did what you're trying to do: installing Linux on an old Pentium 1 (MMX 230 MHz, 128Mb Ram) computer.
My suggestion is Debian version 4, which installed without problems, but there's a little trick here: Pentium 1 machines do usually not allow booting from a CD or DVD, and thus you'll need to boot from a floppy. The best floppy as far as I know for this job is the Linux Slitaz boot floppy, Slitaz linux: <http://www.slitaz.org/en/get/>. The floppy image needs to be downloaded and the floppy created. Once you booted your Pentium with that floppy, you'll have to tell the system in which drive the installation CD or DVD has been inserted. Now, this boot floppy will work with only 64Mb ram, but I don't know the minimum for Debian 4. My machine has 128Mb Ram. You can try some older version of Puppy Linux, which do not require a lot of ram. Many things depend on the motherboard and configuration, and in any case you'll probably need the Slitaz boot floppy; do not even think of trying a Windows floppy ;o)
Good luck.

Last edited by colinetsegers; 04-05-2012 at 08:57 AM.
 
Old 04-05-2012, 09:15 AM   #15
cascade9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linuxnoob2012 View Post
As for networking, AntiX includes a neat little "windows wireless drivers" utility for loading Windows-only drivers. I plan to try that out using the disc that shipped with the card. Wish me luck.
It might work, but follow TobiSGDs advice- try to find linux drivers. Using windows drivers in a wrapper will make things slower, more likely to be buggy and use more CPU and RAM than linux native drivers.

IMO with a machine that old, you would be better off with a good PCI netowrk card anyway. Wireless tends to use more CPU cycles than wired networking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colinetsegers View Post
My suggestion is Debian version 4
Would be OK for offline use, but I wouldnt go hooking a out of support debian version up to the net.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colinetsegers View Post
Pentium 1 machines do usually not allow booting from a CD or DVD, and thus you'll need to boot from a floppy.
Where on earth did you hear that?

There might be some pentium/petium MMX machines that wont boot from CD/DVD, but I've never found one. I used to work doing refurbishing, and I've installed from CD/DVD on a lot of pentium machines.

You might have been caught out by windows 9X, it wouldnt install from CD/DVD to HDD if the CD/DVD was on a different IDE channel to the HDD.
 
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