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Old 01-03-2010, 08:35 PM   #16
titetanium
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I've got Debian Lenny running LXDE on an HP pavilion N3270 with 64MB RAM and 475 Mhz CPU. If that isn't slow enough for you, I don't know what is.

Just don't install iceweasel(firefox) or icedove(thunderbird) as they are too heavy to use with that environment. Dillo and sylpheed or claws-mail works ok though. OpenOffice was way too painful to use.

(Edit):
I forgot to mention that I got a ralink rt73 usb wireless dongle working on it so that works pretty good for upgrading the system once in a while. :-D

Last edited by titetanium; 01-03-2010 at 08:37 PM.
 
Old 01-04-2010, 10:38 AM   #17
Erik_FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owlfish View Post
Thank you again for all your advice

My ideas for the computer are in offline use. I'd like a place to securely write and store documents without being hacked or virused (the computer itself seems to have lost the ability to connect to the net anyway). I don't need it to run any browsers or high-power programs, just a word processing suite, so I had decided maybe it would be a good chance to experiment with one of the smaller Linux distros while I have a spare computer to work with.
I'm under the impression that a Linux system would be more stable than Windows 95 for the same processes because they have been produced recently. Sorry if I've misunderstood something by the way.
Linux has more server features than Windows 95 although Windows 95 does support File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks. The advantage to Linux is that you won't have to run the desktop graphical interface at all. You can start X-Windows when you want to perform administrative tasks such as copying or editing files. You can also do those things from a command prompt without ever starting X-Windows.

Windows 95 is limited in the number of connections that it will accept for file sharing, and it also has limited security features. You can set a read or write password for shared folders in Windows 95. The main advantage to Windows 95 is that it may use less RAM and be a bit faster than a Linux distro with X-Windows running. Without X-Windows the Linux distro will probably be faster and smaller than Windows 95.

Word processing pretty much requires a graphical interface and that means X-Windows. Is there a particular word processing suite that you have in mind? Office 95 or Office 97 with Windows 95 will likely be faster on the computer, but Linux and Open Office will support newer document formats.

Do you have the installation media for Windows 95 and the word processing software? If not, I encourage you to use Linux, since you can obtain software easily. If you have all the media for Windows 95 then why not try Linux and Windows 95 to see what works the best on the computer.

You can dual boot Windows 95 and Linux if you have enough space on the hard disk. To Dual boot, install Windows 95 first, and leave space for a Linux partition. When you install Linux, either install the boot loader to the MBR (Master Boot Record) or set the Linux partition's Boot flag to make it the Active partition. Then you can have the Linux boot loader "chain" to the Windows 95 partition's boot sector.

I think that Linux with KDE requires a similar computer to Windows 2000 and Linux with GNOME requires a similar computer to Windows NT 4.0. With some of the simpler Linux desktop software it should be close to the requirements of Windows 95 or 98.

If you decide to install Windows 95 I will be glad to help you with advice and some software. I have a decent collection of programs that work on Windows 95. I'm not as knowledgeable about Linux (except Slackware) but I can certainly help you dual boot Linux with Windows 95.
 
Old 01-04-2010, 01:22 PM   #18
smeezekitty
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Damn small linux...
I ran it on a COMPAQ PRESARIO 4540 with 32MB ram.
I got full Usb support and no bugs like with W95.
 
Old 01-04-2010, 03:29 PM   #19
alten
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If the Win95 is still working OK, I would stick with that. As long as it's off the internet, you're pretty much OK, except for possible MSWord macro viruses etc.
You could strip it down; remove all programs not used (preferably a clean re-install of Windows) and install Abiword for your word processing. It should fly then.

Other options (most already covered) my favorites would be Antix or Puppy - choose a Puppy that has been remastered for small memory. DSL (Damn Small) is likely the least memory requirement, though you could look at 'Tiny core', too.

Antix is good because it is the little brother of Mepis, so if you wish to use more powerful computers or upgrade the first one, there is a clear upgrade path.
 
Old 01-04-2010, 04:50 PM   #20
darksyde
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owlfish View Post
Thank you again for all your advice

My ideas for the computer are in offline use. I'd like a place to securely write and store documents without being hacked or virused (the computer itself seems to have lost the ability to connect to the net anyway). I don't need it to run any browsers or high-power programs, just a word processing suite, so I had decided maybe it would be a good chance to experiment with one of the smaller Linux distros while I have a spare computer to work with.
I'm under the impression that a Linux system would be more stable than Windows 95 for the same processes because they have been produced recently. Sorry if I've misunderstood something by the way.
Fortunately, Linux also provides you with better security than other OS's. Not that you can totally disregard security, mind you, but you may be able to run a light distro for your word processing and be able to connect to the net.
Mark
 
Old 01-04-2010, 07:02 PM   #21
owlfish
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@Erik_FL - I don't have any installation disks because the computer came as-is, which was what made me think of Linux as the only alternative.

@Alten - I'm not entirely sure if the computer is working OK under '95. Mostly that's my bad because back when '95 was new I wasn't old enough to be able to remember how it looks when it works. But I do know that it seems to have lost internet capability, and has never run any antivirus...it's very hard for me to tell if it could be malfunctioning or just slow.

Would I be able to burn a CD-ROM of my chosen distro, or would it require a floppy disk? Because if it would have to install from floppy disks I would need to order them because I don't have another floppy drive to create the disk with.
 
Old 01-04-2010, 07:38 PM   #22
mark_alfred
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You could probably just go on Craigslist and buy an old Pentium II with 128MB RAM for $20.00 rather than waste hours upon hours trying to install an OS on some ancient 286 or 386 computer with 32MB RAM. Heck, you likely could find something better at your local landfill for free. Used computer stores probably have good deals on Pentium IVs. So do your mom a favour and send that old piece of junk off to the local recycling facility (or, get MS-DOS on it, and then add Leisure Suit Larry and WP5.1 -- there truly was never a better time for computers).

Last edited by mark_alfred; 01-04-2010 at 08:50 PM.
 
Old 01-04-2010, 11:01 PM   #23
Erik_FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owlfish View Post
@Erik_FL - I don't have any installation disks because the computer came as-is, which was what made me think of Linux as the only alternative.

@Alten - I'm not entirely sure if the computer is working OK under '95. Mostly that's my bad because back when '95 was new I wasn't old enough to be able to remember how it looks when it works. But I do know that it seems to have lost internet capability, and has never run any antivirus...it's very hard for me to tell if it could be malfunctioning or just slow.

Would I be able to burn a CD-ROM of my chosen distro, or would it require a floppy disk? Because if it would have to install from floppy disks I would need to order them because I don't have another floppy drive to create the disk with.
As long as your computer will boot from CD you can create a CD-ROM. Some really old computers can't boot directly from a Linux CD (nor a newer Windows CD).

Many Linux distros have kernels too large to boot from floppy disk. You can build smaller kernels but that requires another computer running Linux (or a virtual machine program running Linux on Windows).

A trick you can use with older computers is to make a floppy emulation boot CD that appears as a floppy disk. In your CD burning program tell it to create a boot-able CD and then select the floppy disk image file as the boot image. Put any other files that you want on the CD, but all you will see when you boot the CD is what's on the floppy image. If the floppy image can access a CD drive then it can mount the CD to read the other files. Linux can usually mount CDs with no problems. Windows 95 uses DOS for booting and might require a special CD-ROM driver that you don't have.

You can create a floppy image file using a virtual machine program running Linux on some other computer, or using the loop-back driver in Linux on some other computer. You may also be able to download floppy image files for some Linux distros.

Windows 95 uses a boot floppy and has no CD-ROM drivers. You have to provide the correct DOS CD-ROM driver for your computer. The setup files for Windows 95 are on a CD-ROM. There was a version of Windows 95 with all the files on floppies but I've never seen that myself.

Windows 98 has a floppy emulation boot image on the Setup CD, and can boot directly from the Setup CD in addition to booting from a Setup floppy. Windows 98 includes some CD-ROM drivers but a few strange drives require special DOS drivers. Older Acer CD-ROM drives are an example. Many CD-ROM drives work with the included drivers.

You might also have problems finding the Windows 95 drivers for a really old computer. Linux generally has drivers for very old computer hardware so it's less of a problem. Many computers require additional drivers that aren't on the normal Windows CD.

For some strange reason I've often had better luck finding Windows NT 4.0 drivers than Windows 95 drivers. In a few cases there were Windows NT 4.0 drivers but not Windows 98 SE drivers.

If you're even considering buying a used Windows Setup CD, get Windows 98 Second Edition. Be careful to get the second version of Windows 98, not the first version of Windows 98. The second version always says Second Edition or "SE". That will usually work better than Windows 95 and supports a lot more hardware without extra drivers. You would probably be better off to buy a used computer that includes the license certificate, CD key, and discs for Windows XP.

I generally don't try to do anything with computers that have less than 512 MB of RAM and a CPU slower than 750 MHz. I've mostly used Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows NT 4.0 on computers slower than that or when they have less memory. With really tiny amounts of RAM (32 MB or 64 MB) I've usually found that I have to stick with Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0 and Linux or 98 SE doesn't run very well. 128 MB to 256 MB is more suitable for GNOME Linux distros or Windows 98 SE. More than 256 MB usually runs Windows XP and KDE versions of Linux pretty well.

On some older computers it just comes down to experimentation. I've often had to try a few different operating systems to see which one works the best and has available drivers. If you want mostly server functions and not games, audio and video features then Windows NT 4.0 (Workstation or Server) is a solid choice for really old computers. You can install CYGWIN and run many text based Linux programs too.
 
Old 01-05-2010, 04:00 PM   #24
owlfish
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Thank you for providing such thorough information. It will be a few months before I can get the computer, so I'll continue researching the options you've suggested and make sure I do the right thing. It's good to know there is a place I can come for advice from experience; I haven't seen anything quite like this with Windows where the community is more error->solve.
 
Old 01-05-2010, 06:10 PM   #25
Erik_FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owlfish View Post
Thank you for providing such thorough information. It will be a few months before I can get the computer, so I'll continue researching the options you've suggested and make sure I do the right thing. It's good to know there is a place I can come for advice from experience; I haven't seen anything quite like this with Windows where the community is more error->solve.
You're welcome. If you need help finding drivers later, just make sure to post the computer manufacturer and model. I'm used to finding Windows drivers for old computers because I fix them up and give them people who can't afford to buy a new computer. People often give me their used computers that they don't want and I use the parts or the computers if I can. I don't mind looking for Linux drivers if that's required, but I don't have as much experience finding those. I also don't mind creating custom CD images or floppy images to help get Linux installed.
 
Old 01-06-2010, 12:10 AM   #26
owlfish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik_FL View Post
You're welcome. If you need help finding drivers later, just make sure to post the computer manufacturer and model. I'm used to finding Windows drivers for old computers because I fix them up and give them people who can't afford to buy a new computer. People often give me their used computers that they don't want and I use the parts or the computers if I can. I don't mind looking for Linux drivers if that's required, but I don't have as much experience finding those. I also don't mind creating custom CD images or floppy images to help get Linux installed.
Well then thankyou VERY much!
I will do practically anything to carry the computer into this decade
 
  


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