Help answer threads with 0 replies.
Go Back > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie
User Name
Linux - Newbie This Linux forum is for members that are new to Linux.
Just starting out and have a question? If it is not in the man pages or the how-to's this is the place!


  Search this Thread
Old 11-06-2008, 12:31 PM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: Nov 2008
Posts: 14

Rep: Reputation: 0
Question Bootable Linux CD or non-partitioned install on old PentiumIII with 512mb ram

Hi everyone,

First I want to say that this web site is a fantastic resource! It's a little overwhelming to a total newbie like myself, but thank you everyone for participating!

I have an old 533mhz Pentium III computer that primarily is used as a web machine or word processing when my other computers are in use. No other functions are critical on that machine. It has Windows 98 on it (with a few old programs that make me want to keep Win98 until I retire the computer completely).

It has been working flawlessly for about a decade, but somehow networking got screwed up and it has to be reset to recognize the internet every time it's turned on. Not a smooth user experience.

Before I ask questions, these are some things to know about me:

1) I'm not a "power user." Whatever that means, other than using electricity, I'm not it.
2) I hope to avoid command lines as much as possible.
3) I like an interface I can point and click on
4) I hope I can get up and running with Linux in less than an hour.
5) I don't want to upgrade this computer's hardware in any way. The processor and 512 of ram are absolute limits, as are the HDD's less than one gig of free space (maybe less than 700mb). My Win98 stuff is backed up, but I don't want to move it from the computer yet.

I heard Linux is easy to use so I hope the issues above wont be too much of an obstacle when answering the questions below. I don't want to make people feel like they're writing a whole book just for my question so feel free just to drop in links that will help set me straight. Thank you everyone!


1) What bootable CD distros should I consider that combine having an internet connection (through lan to my ISP), a web browser (with tabs preferred), and OpenOffice 3.0 included (if possible) while working within the constraints I have above?

2) Where are there directions on how to "dual boot" between Win98 and Linux without partitioning my ridiculously full and puny hard drive?

3) Is Question 1 or Question 2 the better way to go?

Someone suggested it would be easier to switch to Linux than try to fix Windows 98, but also wanted me to add another hard drive as a dual-boot method. If you have suggestions that can be done quickly and painlessly I'm absolutely ready to switch to Linux. Can you help me make this computer run for a full decade?

Thank you everyone!

Old 11-06-2008, 12:55 PM   #2
LQ Guru
Registered: Dec 2005
Location: Somewhere on the String
Distribution: Debian Wheezy (x86)
Posts: 6,094

Rep: Reputation: 281Reputation: 281Reputation: 281
You basically can't dual boot without either a) more space on your drive, b) reducing the size of the current windows install, or c) adding another drive. That's what dual boot means - having two operating systems installed on the same computer, which means you need space.

If you don't want to install it to the hard disk, you're probably looking at a live CD. Live CD's are okay, but they run slower than hard disk installs because they have to get all their information from the CD.

Most of the live CD's for your spec are going to shy away from OpenOffice because it's a pig. It'll have a separate lighter weight word processor (usually Abiword) and spreadsheet (usually Gnumeric). Of all the live CD's I like Puppy Linux on old hardware. The required specs are modest and it has a good mix of normal and light applications instead of only ultra-lightweight stuff. Here's a list of the latest Puppy pre-installed applications. OpenOffice is version 2.2.

I know this is a linux forum, but if you're not opposed to re-installing windows 98, I found this great site with all the security updates. The latest version is December 2007 Full. What you do is run the executable and it will perform the entire cycle of updates and reboots without you baby sitting it. I still periodically re-install Win98SE for my father-in-law because he is really resistant to change. I know eventually he's going to have to (and I'll move him to linux), but for now it's just less hassle for me since I have three small kids and not enough time to be tech support if he has questions.

So if you really want to make the jump, I would first try using the Puppy Linux live CD and see if that's acceptable (speed, features, etc). If it's too slow, but you like it, I would wipe the drive and install puppy linux or a bare bones Debian install (though that will require some dinking around at the command line). Otherwise, you might consider re-installing Win98 and using the Autopatcher software to do an unattended system update (including IE6). Or when re-installing, leave some room and dual boot so you can mess around on linux when you like.

Last edited by pljvaldez; 11-06-2008 at 01:02 PM.
Old 11-06-2008, 04:11 PM   #3
LQ Veteran
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Australia
Distribution: Lots ...
Posts: 20,756

Rep: Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973Reputation: 3973
+1 for puppy.
I liked it even on a half-gig Celeron, running from RAM. wifi had to be set up manually (because of the WAP), but ran well. If you are on a wired connection it should find it (automatically) - no trouble to you. It may be they also have a persistent mode where you can save any settings to a USB stick say; haven't looked.
Also has a good support community. Give it a go.
Old 11-07-2008, 04:07 AM   #4
LQ Newbie
Registered: Nov 2008
Distribution: Debian, TinyCoreLinux
Posts: 25

Rep: Reputation: 15
Puppy, Slitaz, DSL, CDlinux .
If you have 1G harddisk space, try ubuntu, see:
I am talking to you with : PIII 667 MHZ + 256M + Ubuntu 8.04 (blackbox + bbeys + rox-filer + firefox3 + mousepad + xterm, and some files, about occupy 1G harddisk space.)
Old 11-08-2008, 03:16 PM   #5
LQ Newbie
Registered: Nov 2008
Posts: 14

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
Thank you everyone! Puppy Linux worked very well. Please do tell people that the time between "Unlzmaing Linux... done Booting the kernel." and seeing the next step can take almost 5-10 minutes. Maybe it's the old, slow 4x speed CD Rom. I shut it down more than once in this time thinking something went wrong before the first run.

The Internet worked great, and even if I don't have Open Office every app works pretty much for what I need on that computer. Great!

BTW pljvaldez, that link about the Win98 patches is especially helpful so I could archive that in the event I ever need to go back to old programs perhaps after a future Win98 uninstall/reinstall/dual boot setup. I'd been hoping something like that was out on the web.

Thank you all again for usable machine specs and the information. Life is easier now and that is GOOD!
Old 11-08-2008, 11:21 PM   #6
LQ Newbie
Registered: Nov 2008
Distribution: Debian, TinyCoreLinux
Posts: 25

Rep: Reputation: 15
Maybe it's the old, slow 4x speed CD Rom. I shut it down more than once in this time thinking something went wrong before the first run.
You can do a "Frugal" installing:
The files vmlinuz, initrd.gz, pup_xxx.sfs and zdrv_xxx.sfs are copied to a partition. This partition may already have something installed on it and that will not be disturbed. This can be any type of partition, MSDOS, Windows (FAT, NTFS) or Linux (EXT2, EXT3 or REISERFS). For most people this is the recommended option.
Then download a loading file to boot your Puppy without disturbing any stuff of your Windows98 here: , extract and put loadlin.exe in this file into the partition where Puppy installed (e.g., E:\ ). Create a batch file called puppy.bat in the same partition. The content of this batch file like below:
loadlin.exe vmlinuz initrd=initrd.gz
Start you computer, Press "F8" (OR F4? I forgot.) to into "Pure MS DOS" environment, execute "e:\puppy.bat" to boot your Puppy.

It should be faster a bit if you do a "FULL installation"
A full installation, taking over the entire partition. This is the normal traditional Linux hd installation, and requires the partition to have a Linux filesystem (EXT2, EXT3 or REISERFS).
But, it need some Linux skill to get a linux partition and boot your Puppy with "Grub" or "Lilo" which introduced in that page:

Last edited by littlebat; 11-09-2008 at 01:15 AM.
Old 11-08-2008, 11:31 PM   #7
LQ Newbie
Registered: Nov 2008
Distribution: Debian, TinyCoreLinux
Posts: 25

Rep: Reputation: 15
It is no necessary to do a "Win98 uninstall/reinstall" to get a "dual boot" even though you do a "FULL installation" of Puppy or any other Linux distributions, do some searching at internet with keywords " windows linux dual boot".


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
redhat enterprise linux 4 boots slow with 2 GB RAM , boots fast with 512MB robinsingh Linux - Hardware 14 08-26-2008 11:34 PM
Unable to get two 512Mb ram banks working together Pier Linux - Hardware 1 12-08-2006 06:05 AM
256 MB RAM -- 512MB swap ? lynxfreak Linux - General 23 02-24-2006 12:40 PM
distro advice for p3 500 w/ 512mb ram twitch89 Linux - Distributions 6 09-02-2005 02:55 AM
Win98SE Pentium166MMX/64MB RAM vs Linux AthlonXP+ 3000/512MB RAM : Lucent LT WinModem t3gah Linux - Software 2 04-22-2005 01:01 PM > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Newbie

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:03 AM.

Main Menu
Write for LQ is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration