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Old 06-17-2004, 04:58 PM   #1
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Registered: Jun 2004
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Complete NEWBIE want to install linux on OLD computer

Hello all,

I have an old PC, Pentium 166 MMX, 32 MB of ram, 1.5 GB Hard drive. I would like to put linux on it as the only OS (replacing Win 95).

Where should I start?

I have read some and DeLi looked very favorable. I would have already downloaded it and tried to install but it's FTP site was not responsive and I can not find a mirror.

So, basically, I am looking for all the help I can get, starting with the correct distribution to choose, to how to install from scratch.

The primary use for this computer is for me to have a machine to do some linux play and to type my book while my kids play on the other computer. A browser would be nice because I will eventually buy a router so that I can share my net connection.

Thanks in advance
Old 06-17-2004, 05:04 PM   #2
Registered: Dec 2002
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 927

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you can get reviews here:

then download iso's here:

for install instructions - search around this forum - there are thousands of threads on that

good luck
Old 06-17-2004, 05:11 PM   #3
Registered: Jan 2003
Location: Belgium
Distribution: Mandrake 9.2
Posts: 475

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1.5 Gig is not a lot.
If you're a complete newbie, don't try Slack.
1. Check in hardware databases that your machine is supported (my machne is not listed, but it works perfectly)
2. Since you don't have a lot of space on your harddrive, don't install too many desktop environments. Say, both gnome and kde is a bit too much.
3. Have a look on screenshots of both gnome and kde and decide what you prefer. After all, you might prefer very lightweight window managers like fluxbox or WM or IceWM... (fluxbox seems to be the manager of the year).
4. Get yourself a distribution you like. Slack is great, but isn't for newbies (sorry, slackfonds!). RH, Suse etc are all great, and, the easiest to start with, Mandrake.
5. Download the ISOs and make CDs. Typically you will have 3 CDs.
6. Pop the 1st one into your CD-Rom, and reboot. Follow instructions.
7. And the seventh sky - have fun.
Old 06-17-2004, 05:13 PM   #4
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Registered: Jun 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
Distribution: Fedora
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I was able to put it onto an old Packard Bell 133 Mhz box but I had to add memory and disk to make it easier.
With 2GB disk, I had to re-install a bunch of times (each time removing apps) until I got it small enough to finish.
With 32MB RAM, it would not install using the GUI. Once installed, it would run X but crashed a lot until I bumped it up to 64 MB.

Swore a lot but also learned a lot.

Old 06-17-2004, 05:25 PM   #5
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Registered: Dec 2001
Location: 35.7480 N, 95.3690 W
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GNOME and KDE will be way too slow. You'll want a window manager. XFCE is also a desktop that will work. Most are covered here

For browsing use opera or mozilla firefox. A good email client is sylpheed.
has a lot of info and reviews. You may want to try out several.

You'll want to do a custom install and ony install what you need.
Old 06-17-2004, 06:45 PM   #6
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Registered: May 2004
Location: california
Distribution: mdklinux8.1
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Apsuman; first what motherboard installed? that may restrict expansion a bit. also age of bios? then as adviced by others , upgrade memory, harddrive , depending on your needs start with 20gb>40gb> or larger. all
this depends on motherboard and bios. ? still have documentation on pc or any installs, look for limitations that will give you what and how is to be installed.
Old 06-18-2004, 12:29 AM   #7
Registered: May 2004
Posts: 47

Rep: Reputation: 15
have an old PC, Pentium 166 MMX, 32 MB of ram, 1.5 GB Hard drive

As I know, DSL is the smallest distro of linux (correct me if Im wrong). But that wont meet your needs. I suggest you upgrade your hdd to atleast 4 gig and your memory. Because you will be needing it as you use the X-window. You will be in vain if you insist on installing a Linux distro with X-window and some word processing applications.

but your old pc is enough to be a Gateway, router, proxy, firewall. etc.,
man is our friend my friend!
Old 06-18-2004, 12:34 AM   #8
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Registered: Feb 2003
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I would suggest taking a look at
Old 06-18-2004, 06:04 AM   #9
Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Arizona
Distribution: Kubuntu 8.04
Posts: 202

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The hardware requirements for most Linux distros have increased quite a bit in the last several years, so a slightly older version of something might be best. The above post mentions Vector Linux. I have never used it but, from what I have read it has lower hardware requirements. It is a Slackware based distro that claims to be easier to configure than Slackware. I use Slackware myself and love it but, would probably not recommend Slackware for a newbie.

On the Vector Linux web page they list the hardware requirements for different versions. They have several different versions available on CDs including a slightly older version that has even lower hardware requirements. I realize that most people download and burn their own CDs for free but, I am just commenting that they have a slightly older version with lower hardware requirement available on a CD available for $12. With my slow dial-up connection I prefer to just buy the CDs.

So anyway, their webpage say that with Vector Linux 1.8 they recommend at least a 486 processor, 16 MB of RAM and 175 MB of hard disk space. Their latest product is Vector Linux 4.0 and the minimum hardware requirement is a 166 MHz Pentium class processor with 32 MB of RAM and 700 MB of hard disk space. The recommend hardware is having at least a 233 MHz processor with 64 MB of memory.

With whichever disto you choose, using a lighter weight window manager and/or adding some extra memory might also help. Snapping in an extra memory module for and old computer would probably not cost much and is easy to do. Choosing leaner faster applications instead of the slower more bloated choices would also help. Keep in mind that I have not yet tried Vector Linux and am just going on what I have read about it. I hope that the part about being somewhat like Slackware but easier to configure is true.
Old 06-18-2004, 02:09 PM   #10
Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Arizona
Distribution: Kubuntu 8.04
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In my above post I need to correct one error. I ment to say they according the Vector Linux webpaged the minimum recommended processor for Vector Linux 4.0 is a pentium 133 (not a pentium 166). Also, I should add that the older 1.8 version, which has ever lower hardware requirements, was released in late 2000 which is not too many years ago. They also have Vector Linux 3.2 SOHO which, oddly enough, seems to have higher hardware requirements than either.


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