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Old 11-06-2006, 05:54 PM   #1
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Question How to run linux on an old pc?

I need some help.
I have an old pc HP Vectra (PIII 400 MHz, 128 MB RAM)
I've installed a Knoppix 3.8. But, It run soooooooo slow on this system. It need more than 3 min even 5 min to start an OpenOffice. When I used win xp, it need less than min to start ms-word. Now I've removed my knoppix and back to my Xp "pirated edition".Would someone like to give some solution?

"Finally I made my first post!!"
Old 11-06-2006, 06:03 PM   #2
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Do you mean you used Knoppix as a live CD or you installed it to the HD? The LiveCD will be slow, you don't have a lot of RAM and it's probably a slow CD-rom anyway. On the HD, it will have a very bloated kernel that will slow down your old machine.

A few things to try:

1) Try running a lighter weight distro like Xubuntu or Damn Small Linux.
2) Try installing Debian (text install only), then build your system from the ground up using apt-get.
3) Try recompiling your kernel. If in doubt, leave it out. It might take you a few tries to get the right things compiled in, but it'll provide a noticable difference on your old machine. (At least it did on my old Celeron 400MHz, 256MB ram).
4) Use lightweight applications instead of memory hogs like OpenOffice. You'll have a bit better luck with Abiword and Gnumeric...
Old 11-06-2006, 06:28 PM   #3
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I'm currently running a PII 300MHz with 320 ram.
Distro? Slackware 11 with xfce.
Install time with configuration? 1 hour. (due to slow cd)

Runs like a charm
Old 11-06-2006, 06:29 PM   #4
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OpenOffice is a great app but it also consumes a great deal of resources. As pljvaldez indicated, I think you've got 4 conditions that are responsible for the poor performance: relatively little RAM, an app that's a resource hog, a fairly slow CPU, and you are running 100% off the CD rather than the hard drive. All of those things will add up to slow performance.

Assuming that you have the space on your hard drive, you might also want to consider setting up your PC as a dual boot system. Using a lighter-weight distro and installing Linux to the hard drive should both yield some performance gains, as would increasing the amount of RAM. Overall though, given that new CPU's run about 8 times faster than your PIII, realistically it won't be capable of lightning speed. That's not meant as criticism, and older machines can be perfectly good desktops (I've got a PIII 600Mz with 256Mg RAM, and it's fine)

Lastly, I'll also recommend Abiword - it's a great application
Old 11-06-2006, 10:13 PM   #5
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I was running a p-III with Windows 2000. With 128M of RAM, it would get paralyzed frequently. Adding 64M (total 192) made a HUGE difference. I would expect similar payoff with Linux.
Old 11-06-2006, 10:18 PM   #6
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Take a look at Vector Linux.
Old 11-06-2006, 11:46 PM   #7
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slackwhere has something called zipslack I believe is pretty easy on the hardware specs... Also something called DSL (damn small linux) might work since it's small.
Old 11-07-2006, 01:30 AM   #8
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feather Linux

Vector Linux 4.3


Puppy Linux



Old 11-07-2006, 01:35 AM   #9
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I'd try Vector Linux too, but it "really" does not matter which one you choose; the main things, wich which you can prevent slowdowns, are

1) don't use heavy desktop environments (KDE, Gnome), prefer console and/or light desktop things (maybe XFCE, Fluxbox etc.)
2) If you have a possibility to do so, at some point try compiling your own kernel, leaving unneeded stuff out (like support for > 4GB RAM in your case, as an example)
3) Disable unneeded services. Most distributions will surely have some services that start during boot process that take time, that you don't need. Less services to start is less time to boot.
4) Especially on GUI side, try to pick up light versions/alternatives of apps. OpenOffice sure is great, but it's heavy, so try alternatives (AbiWord? Not sure if it's lighter, though) if you can. It spares your nerves.
Old 11-07-2006, 02:47 AM   #10
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You don't need to go that minimal with a PIII400!
I have a PII350, and I run Mandriva 2007 on it: the newer OpenOffice2 is a lot faster than previous versions: it opens in less than 30s.

Just don't use KDE with so little memory, maybe not even Gnome. I use Ion3 (wonderfull after redefining keybindings to more usual values, unusable with default ones) but this is maybe a little too minimal. I've always found IceWM to be a good tradeoff: familiar, but still lean: it is even lighter on resources than the well known Fluxbox.

Old 11-07-2006, 12:32 PM   #11
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On my "real" computers I have used several live distro's but brought back to life an old box to learn the basics. I could not install Ubuntu or knoppix but was able to HD install DSL (Damn Small Linux).

My System
AMD K6 @ 333mhz
FIC VA-503A Motherboard
64 Megs RAM (PC100 SD)
4GB Hard Drive (Completly Blank)

Things run very quickly from command line but the GUI (I think its kde) bogs down due to the miniscule ammount of ram. My intent is to download from the internet the packages (programs) that I wanted to test (which would have automatically installed with a diffrent distro).

If you intend to USE this computer, I'd reccomend spending a few bucks to increase the RAM...but if your just dabbling to get your feet wet, install DSL to hard drive and accept that the "bogging down" is a hardware issue rather than software related.
Old 11-07-2006, 12:49 PM   #12
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just increase your ram ... as much as possible and you will be fine ...

you can even run kde and open office while gnome would be slow(even if you are a patient computer user) for that kind of spec ...

my suggestion is that you try kde ubuntu with more ram(and probably with faster disks too) first and see how it goes ...

[EDIT ::] btw ... i remember with 128 mb of ram you cant even run a proper win98 , right ??


Last edited by alred; 11-07-2006 at 12:51 PM.
Old 11-07-2006, 02:13 PM   #13
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The lightweight Desktop is the key to making it run decent on a low end machine.

Debian Etch - XFCE4 - Pentium 166 mmx 64MB RAM 2 MB Video Card..

It's no greased lightening for sure but fir browsing the web and doing email it's fine.
so your PIII 400 with 128 MB of RAM shouldn't be too difficult

Debian Netinstall Base no Package groups.
then login and install X
apt-get update
apt-get install xserver-xorg xfce4 firefox

Easy !!
Old 11-07-2006, 02:17 PM   #14
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more ram is all you need,
Old 11-08-2006, 03:05 PM   #15
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With Damn Small Linux, even my laptop was fast (see "nomade" in signature). I could even use 2 X sessions at once!



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