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I have an old HP Pavillion that is right now running Windows 95. It has a Pentium 133mhz, 16mg of ram, and a 2 gig hard drive. My question is that how high a version of Red Hat can I put on it before it becomes to unstable? I am right now thinking of putting Red Hat 6 on it, but maybe in the future I could upgrade it.
Surely it's less a case of which distro, and more a case of which particular programs you use? Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see anything wrong with using the latest version - the packages that you do choose to install will be the most up to date. A recent version of windowmaker is probably preferable to an old version - products designed to perform on lower end hardware continue to do so through version increases, in most cases.
I believe that RH is now optimizes for i586, so since this is a Pentium we're talking about, you should be fine with the very latest version of RH. However, the specs aren't great, so you would probably want to keep a keen eye on exactly what is going on to your box. F'rinstance, you wouldn't want to install KDE... perhaps KDE's libraries so that you can run KDE apps, but not KDE itself.
Well, I am using the computer for just working with RH. I am new to Linux and want to see how it works on an old computer I'm not using anymore (I got a couple of books on Linux with RH 6.0 included, which is why I want to install RH, to learn more). I have heard that Mandrake is easier for first time Linux users, but I don't want to pay more if a distro is already included in the book I got. But before I even try to install it, I have a few questions about the installation process now that I have read more of the book. How do I find all the hardware information so I can be sure I won't have a problem with configuring Linux to the hardware? And how do I know that Linux will be compatible with the hardware?
Redhat maintain a hardware compatability list on their website, but I'm not sure if it's backdated for previous versions. I generally just search for the specific name of a piece of hardware and "linux" on google, and find someone's experience with it, or an entry in a linux hardware compatability database (of which I believe there are a few).
As for finding out what kind of hardware you've got, some kind of windows utility, I suppose. I remember that office had a dialog from the about window that would give you system information. But I'm sure there are standalone things you can get? Google for it. Alternatively, something that I've found useful is to download a single-disk linux distro like tomsrtbt (again, if you want it, google for it, that's all I'd be doing it I dropped a link to it in here), and when that distro is booted, it lists out all the hardware that it finds.
SiSandra? That, IMO, is one of the best Windows tools for finding out hardware details. I admit it can perhaps be a little overkill for the job, but if you've got an app like that, you should be thoroughly prepared for whatever is thrown at you.