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Old 06-01-2008, 10:33 AM   #1
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Newbie with an old computer - runs Window 95 - is it worth converting to Linux OS

This is my first post, I just registered this morning.

I run an Architectural Office from my home office using AutoCAD on Windows systems. A client suggested some time ago that I should use a Linux OS. At this point I don't know if that is even an option for the business or even if my other software vendors support Linux, but that is not the point of this posting.

I have been reading about Linux OS for some time, but still do not know much about it. I am interest in investigating Linux to see if it can be useful to me personally or professionally.

So this gets me to the reason of this posting.

I have an old Dell XPS, PII 266, with a 4 gig scsi drive and scsi cd-rom, and it has 1 gig of ram. I stopped using it in the business years ago. I even gave it to my parents to use, and it has since come back to me. Right now my young daughter uses it to play around. This was my first computer purchase out of college, at the time it was for personal use, but was powerful enough to be used in my business when I ventured out on my own. The OS on it is Windows 95. Ancient, I know.

So, I have this old computer, and an interest in learning about Linux OS. I saw an article posted on about new life for an old computer. Does anyone out there think this computer can be useful for investigating Linux? Or is it too much of a dinosaur? If there is still some life left for this old warrior, can anyone suggest a possible distro I might install? I downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu yesterday, but given the age of the computer, I doubt this would even run on it.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Or should this old Dell be retired to the recycling bin?

Last edited by digitalpreimage; 06-01-2008 at 10:36 AM.
Old 06-01-2008, 11:01 AM   #2
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It will be good for just about any version of linux out there.
I like Fedora myself.

I think that you will find even GUI versions of Linux will run super fast on that PC and that you will have none of the problems that you had with Windows 95/98
Old 06-01-2008, 12:00 PM   #3
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Yeah, most PCs from that age have too little ram to work properly with current distors using KDE or Gnome.
But that setup is perfect for experimenting; you have enough ram to run just about everything, but slow enough CPU to actually notice some differences resulting from the choices you make.

Last edited by PMorph; 06-01-2008 at 12:56 PM.
Old 06-01-2008, 12:08 PM   #4
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for GUI Red Hat will run on anything greater that 128mb.
I would try gnome but it that runs too slow then maybe do a reinstall and choose the xwindows (it is a ultra lite GUI for old PCs)
Old 06-01-2008, 12:27 PM   #5
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Definitely! I think it would make a great Linux learning/experimenting machine!

As to what you might install on it exactly, I will not try making suggestions, but instead point you to where you can research MANY MANY Linuxes in an organized fashion, and use their search engine to narrow down the choices by various criteria.

If you decide to get rid of the computer instead-- I'll take it!

Best of success!

Old 06-01-2008, 12:33 PM   #6
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Probably the biggest pitfall to look out for is going to be the GUI environment you use. The full featured Linux environment, KDE and Gnome, may have trouble with that little RAM. However, XFCE, Fluxbox or a few others will likely work just fine with that amount of RAM. If you're in for a REAL adventure, that would be very excellent hardware for a console only machine.

A 4GB drive is going to hold most distros, provided you are reasonable with the software you install on it. Most distros come with a lot of server software that you simply aren't going to need. A good, fully functional web browsing, emailing, general office work machine should easily come in at under 2 GB.

You might want to give one of the Ubuntu offshoots a try. Xbuntu uses XFCE and Fluxbuntu uses Fluxbox. If you don't mind putting in some sweat, Slackware would run very nicely on that machine. It just has a steeper learning curve that the *buntus.
Old 06-01-2008, 12:40 PM   #7
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OP has 1 GB of RAM, this is certainly more than enough. I'm not sure if SCSI is probed by default, you may need to use doscsi boot option when booting to install.
Old 06-01-2008, 12:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by digitalpreimage View Post
I have an old Dell XPS, PII 266, with a 4 gig scsi drive and scsi cd-rom, and it has 1 gig of ram.
Most machines of this age have 128 or 256 of ram, which makes things a little tricky, but with 1 G of ram, you have a pretty good choice.

Of course, a 4 G hard disk is a bit limiting for some of the 'do anything' distros - you can deal with this by being selective about what you install (assuming that the install routine is sufficiently flexible to give you the choice and doesn't just install everything).

The other, and, I, would argue, better option would be to choose a 'small' distro. Something like DSL, Puppy, Frugalware would be an ideal thing to try (look at distrowatch for a disturbingly large list of distros).

Equally, as a first try, a live CD would be ideal. I assume that your CD drive is really just a CD and not a CD/DVD drive, which would have been more flexible (so you'll have to avoid live DVDs and install DVDs, unless you have an external device or a swappable device that you can use).

I'm not sure whether the point of this post goes on to CAD programs, but I'm pretty sure that Autocad doesn't have a native Linux version, so if that is the eventual point, you might need to investigate whether Autocad runs under Wine. Or, something else like QCad. Or, maybe ask your Linux-using client what he uses.
Old 06-01-2008, 01:13 PM   #9
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Low hard disk space with 1gig RAM - I think this is a ideal mchine for deliLinux.
you can check it out.
Old 06-01-2008, 01:29 PM   #10
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plenty of RAM.

Originally Posted by Emerson View Post
<...OP has 1 GB of RAM, this is certainly more than enough...>
Indeed, I don't see the RAM being of concern. 1GB is pretty good for a Linux, no matter which way one looks at it.
I ran KDE with no noticeable problem, with 512MB for a year or so, 'till I bought a bunch of RAM a little while ago.

With the OPs CPU speed, it will no doubt be slowish, but shouldn't have any OOM issues (Out Of Memory).

Last edited by GrapefruiTgirl; 06-01-2008 at 01:32 PM.
Old 06-01-2008, 01:52 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by GrapefruiTgirl View Post
"So, I see you have many degrees, diplomas, and certificates.. That's good, very good! However, let us keep things in perspective: not a single one of them reads 'expert' anywhere."
lol I just looked;you are right. Now where is my sharpie????

Last edited by watcher69b; 06-01-2008 at 01:54 PM.
Old 06-01-2008, 05:02 PM   #12
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small linux

i recomend feather linux.
128mb. will make ur machine superfast
Old 06-01-2008, 09:42 PM   #13
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There is lot of linux distro that support your computer spect. Just for example, there are puppy linux, damn small linux, feather linux, etc. If you want more to know that distro, visit There are some kind of wizard that will guide you which distro that is suitable with you.

Hope this will help you
Old 06-01-2008, 11:06 PM   #14
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You might go back to and check out their distributions page. You can search by category and 'minimalist' might be the ones to check for a hardrive that small. As others have said, 1GB of RAM is plenty but a 4GB hardrive won't do much with some of the bigger distros.
Old 06-02-2008, 03:55 AM   #15
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You could even try those "small" Linuxes like Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux etc....


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