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Old 03-23-2010, 04:41 PM   #1
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Talking Stretching the limits... P3/128mb to wifi recommendations?

My foray into Linux is one of hopeful necessity:
I have a friend who doesn't have any comp & whose son is leaving for the military. I have an old pc I was planning to recycle but instead would like to see if it can be put back into use.

She has wireless service in her apt building which she would like to access. I don't know if the versions of Linux that are light duty enough to operate on such a low end machine still support wifi networking... (I will have to download it at home to a mac, burn it to cd & install from there)

Is it possible to install a wireless card into an old P3/128mb ram (IBM 6564/GL300) and get it working?

If it is, first: which distro is best suited?

Thank you!!!
Old 03-23-2010, 06:10 PM   #2
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There is no problem installing the WiFi device and getting it running. The more important question here is what you/she actually want to be able to do with it. It could serve as a very light desktop machine, but modern software like Firefox is getting to the point now that it isn't going to be very fun on a Pentium 3.

You also need to consider the usability factor, as in general, the leaner and more efficient the distribution, the more advanced a user it requires. "Friendly" distributions like Ubuntu can be used by basically anyone, but lean and fast distributions like Slackware or Arch take much more skill to setup and manage.

The biggest problem here really is the amount of RAM, as 128 MB is simply not enough for a modern Linux desktop. You could squeeze something workable into it (I have done it on less RAM than that), but it is going to be lean to the extreme and even then performance is not going to be where most people would want it. Is there anyway to get more RAM into the machine? That would go a long way for something like this.
Old 03-23-2010, 10:40 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply!
What would it take to upgrade? how much ram? I already would have to pick up a wifi card. for the money, am I spending enough to buy a better (enough) used machine?
thanks again!
Old 03-24-2010, 12:00 AM   #4
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Get as much RAM as the motherboard can handle, which isn't going to be any more than 1 GB for a machine that old (and possibly as low as 512 MB). But be warned that RAM for older machines is harder to find and often costs much more than modern RAM. The WiFi card is probably going to be the cheapest part of this, as you just need a basic card with decent Linux support. That shouldn't run you any higher than $20 on most online retailers.

Since you can get netbooks for around $200 now, it is really hard to justify upgrading a machine this old, but it is your decision.
Old 03-24-2010, 12:05 AM   #5
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Look at browswerlinux. I ran it on a thumb drive recently and was quite impressed. It's meant for netbooks so it ought to do wifi. Not a lot to it, but it will do the www quite well and the fact that it supports quite a bit of media out of the box makes it a good candidate for what a lot of my customers with kids in the military are using their service for. The machine might not be up for much, but that OS ought not get in the way too much.

I have good luck with used computer stores when it comes to things like memory. The kind of place where you can explain your situation and being friendly helps the price.

Last edited by damgar; 03-24-2010 at 12:08 AM.


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