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Is there any version of Linux that will run on my old Gateway 486 4DX2-66 with 8 MB memory and 540 MB disk (134MB free)? I'd just like to experiment with Linux, not having used it before. The disk currently has Win 3.1 and works fine. Would KNoppix or something similar run off of the CD-ROM or even diskettes??? I know this is ancient, but I hate to just throw away my old computer since it works OK.
Thanks, I didn't check Google, and there is more there than I thought. But, as a new user, I'm having trouble sorting it all out. I would appreciate a specific recommendation from experienced users on what distribution is most likely to work on this machine (as I said 486 DX2-66, 8 MB RAM, 540 MB disk) and where I can obtain it. I know that sounds elementary, but, without much experience, it's hard to know what to try first.
Well I haven't tried linux on a 486 with so little ram yet (my oldest PC I've tried is a P90 with 128 Megs of ram)...
My advice to you is to read the docs and give it a try. Seriously.
Hand holding shouldn't be necessary until you run into a specific problem really. At which point I'm sure tons of people here can help.
Its the best way to learn, just dive in...experience isn't necessary to get experience
Expect to run into some problems and frustration, have patience, be willing to try things and read up docs and files and you should do just fine.
Thanks to everyone who replied. Here's what I did:
1. I looked at Morphix but there were comments to the effect that even if it boot on a 486, they didn't want to support the 486.
2. Next I looked at Slackware, but their minimum hardward config says 16 MB and I only have 8MB. There might be a workaround but it wasn't obvious to me what to do.
3. Finally, I ran across BasicLinux at
and this looked what I wanted. It's only a 2 MB download, including a batch file to create a bootable floppy. It runs in a 4 MB RAMdisk. I tried it and it worked like a charm (more or less). So that's my recommendation for anybody else who wants to try out Linux on an old machine. My next project is to try to figure out how to make my Deskjet 722c work with Linux, but I think I can do that myself. I know there is a driver for it; I just don't know how to add it to BasicLinux.
So, thanks again, your encouragement was a great help.
Tiny Linux is a small Linux distribution designed especially for old computers.
processor : i386 or better
hard disk : 50 Mo is enough for installation itself, but you will do better with at least 80 Mo
ram: 8 MB minimum, 12 MB or 16 MB is better
floppy drive :3"1/4
I do, use a quite small Linux distro in a quite old computer:
386 processor, 75 MHZ (I think...gheh) with 8 RAM. It's a laptop compaq with no CD-Rom. The best distribution I've found is grey cat linux 3.0.
It's a full distribution, comes with NetScape, some tools for connecting to Internet, IceWM, Midnight Commander and other stuff. Plus, you don't have to create a partition for it, it install under a folder with DOS format. To finish, it's an old Slackware distro based, so you can download pre-compiled programs for Slackware and use on it.
I also keep Win 3.1 in this "powerful" machine and I'm very happy with it for printing and writing my manga stories ghehe.
Get it here:
If you burn the gentoo iso it is a live cd. I actually sometimes prefer to use gentoo as a live cd over knoppix. Its faster without a gui and would run on an older machine and it does a good job on hardware recognition.