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Old 01-01-2005, 10:11 AM   #1
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Registered: Sep 2004
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linux on 486

hi, have some experince using linux. (always thanks to this forum, I manged)
here is my question.
I have an old 486 dx100 box
32mb ram
2.0 gb harddrive
and CD rom
Bios does not support booting from the cd

I need a linux version to install on this 486 @ 100mhz box, with GUI.
Does anyone knows where I can download ISO ? I found thousands of dead links.

Thanks in advance
as always.
Old 01-01-2005, 11:20 AM   #2
Registered: Aug 2002
Location: Alexandria
Distribution: ubuntu 12.04.2
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There are several distributions you can install on that computer. if you have a network card install, you can install via ftp, which is what I usually do anyway.

I don't know about other distros, but I know fedora 2 has a floppy iso that you can copy to a floppy disk, boot to the installation screen and choose FTP install.

I would assume other distributions would have this as well. Check with management.

Hope this helps.
Old 01-01-2005, 12:05 PM   #3
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Iowa
Distribution: LFS 5.0, building 6.3, win98se, multiboot
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One of the main problems you're going to run into is that 32mb of ram. Most current distro's won't run on that small amount. In fact, they'll probably refuse to install. With a 100mhz cpu you'll want to go with a light weight desktop, like fluxbox or similar. Maybe something like Vector or Peanut, you'll have to check the system requirements. And most distro's do have a boot floppy available for systems that don't support cd boot.
Old 01-01-2005, 04:33 PM   #4
Registered: Jun 2003
Location: Socorro, New Mexico
Distribution: Debian ("jessie", "squeeze"), Linux Mint (Serena), XUbuntu
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A related thread you should read

Check out this parallel thread from last night and today that is discussing your same question
(more or less)

I recommended DSL "Damn Small Linux" to that gentlemen. Even more apt for your more
limited machine. Recommend the whole thread. Good suggestions from many LinuxQ members.
Old 01-01-2005, 05:21 PM   #5
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Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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I suspect that any distribution would work just fine. Just stick with a lightweight window manager.

Installation might be easier for distros that do not use a graphical installer (Debian, Slackware). I can't think of any reason that a distro would refuse or fail to install with 32MB RAM; you don't need much RAM to load the Linux kernel and the essential bootup services, plus a console (I've installed Slackware 9.0 on a 486 with only 4MB). In fact, the installation process usually consumes more RAM than is actually needed to run Linux itself. If you get through installation, with any distribution, you have plenty of RAM to run the distro itself, as long as you're not starting up a lot of unnecessary services at boot time.

X will do just fine with 32MB (X and FVWM run comfortably on a 486 with only 16MB), again, just stick with the more minimal window managers. XFCE might even run well, and it looks much nicer

Last edited by wapcaplet; 01-01-2005 at 05:24 PM.
Old 01-01-2005, 06:35 PM   #6
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Iowa
Distribution: LFS 5.0, building 6.3, win98se, multiboot
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Iirc, rh 7.x and rh 8 refuse to install on less than 64 mb ram. Don't remember why, I think it was just some silly thing rh did. I think some of the other rpm distro's may have similar requirements. But you're right, there is no intrinsic reason 32mb won't run linux.

Last edited by kevinalm; 01-01-2005 at 06:36 PM.
Old 01-01-2005, 09:02 PM   #7
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Registered: Jan 2002
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Any distribution will work but you will run into architecture problems because most distributors compile it for 586 or 686.

Use Slackware. Its compiled with 486 by default, so do not have to recompile a distribution that was compiled for 586 which will not run on a 486 anyway.

If you have PCI slots you can get any IDE controller to use larger hard drives, so you are not limited to 2 GB. If you have VL slots, you are stuck with what you have and the computer will be bogged down by the VL bus. I suggest not even using VL the slots if you do not mind slow redraw.

Make sure you specify a lot of swap space because you will need it during compiling programs and using GUI programs.


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