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Anyone use an old linux OS on an old PC?

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Reply 40 of 62, by QBiN

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In the mid to late 90's, I used to run Slackware 3.x on an old P120 on an Intel ZP motherboard. It was great as a learning tool because, it's true, Slackware does almost nothing for you. As a young adult in university, I had the time and enthusiasm to really dig in, learn, and play with all the low-level tuning of a linux system. I remember with particular satisfaction recompiling kernels with just the minimal amount of support I needed and nothing more.

With a little bit of elbow grease back then, a linux box ran circles around Win95 and was lightyears more stable. The real problem was getting half-decent office productivity to do my papers in. I often had to reboot into Win95 just to write papers, but would reboot into linux to do actual engineering work. There was a unix document format that the computer science guys used in Linux/Unix (we had tons of NeXT workstations and DECstations all over the place)... It wasn't postscript, but I can't think of it at the moment.

Reply 41 of 62, by Caluser2000

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Digging through some old hdds I find a Slackware 13 installation I'd triad out on a much more modern system. After reconfiguring Xorg and the network card it runs really well. There seems to be an issue with it mounting my usb stick though. I'll have to see what up with that.So this is the most modern Linux I've tried so far on this system.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 42 of 62, by mr_bigmouth_502

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QBiN wrote:

In the mid to late 90's, I used to run Slackware 3.x on an old P120 on an Intel ZP motherboard. It was great as a learning tool because, it's true, Slackware does almost nothing for you. As a young adult in university, I had the time and enthusiasm to really dig in, learn, and play with all the low-level tuning of a linux system. I remember with particular satisfaction recompiling kernels with just the minimal amount of support I needed and nothing more.

With a little bit of elbow grease back then, a linux box ran circles around Win95 and was lightyears more stable. The real problem was getting half-decent office productivity to do my papers in. I often had to reboot into Win95 just to write papers, but would reboot into linux to do actual engineering work. There was a unix document format that the computer science guys used in Linux/Unix (we had tons of NeXT workstations and DECstations all over the place)... It wasn't postscript, but I can't think of it at the moment.

Was it LaTeX?

My NEW(ish) desktop:
p8cqsw-2.png

Reply 44 of 62, by calvin

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That is going to be hard without an anachronistic GPU. For my Rage Pro (mach64) 2D works great but 3D is non-existant, and S3 stuff was dropped. Riva/GeForce/Voodoo might work, but I am unsure.

2xP2 450, 512 MB SDR, GeForce DDR, Asus P2B-D, Windows 2000
P3 866, 512 MB RDRAM, Radeon X1650, Dell Dimension XPS B866, Windows 7
M2 @ 250 MHz, 64 MB SDE, SiS5598, Compaq Presario 2286, Windows 98

Reply 45 of 62, by Caluser2000

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Ok finally got around to installing Xubuntu 7.1 on this P200mmx. It works quite well, with just enough stuff to get you going. Once you get the installation routine underway just go away for a few hours though. Anyway quite happy with the way thigs went. Just need to update the sources.list to do some updates.
So just to recap-RH 7.3, Xandros 2.0 Deluxe and Xubuntu 7.1 run fine on this system witout major dramas, with the last two having the minimum of fiddling. To put things in some perspective. When I set up RH 7.3 there was lot of stuff like Nautalus that dragged the system to a craw and I'd spend quite a bit of time altering it to suite my particular requirements for the time. Probably a few months iirc. to nut it out. Xandros 7.1 is ralitively lean by default. and certianly a lot nicer all round with regards to fonts etc, which is to be expected considering it is come out quite few years later.

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There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 46 of 62, by calvin

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Your main problems are the machine is slow enough to make (normal) browsers suck, and the browsers are old enough they are likely incompatible with newer HTML, TLS, etc.

2xP2 450, 512 MB SDR, GeForce DDR, Asus P2B-D, Windows 2000
P3 866, 512 MB RDRAM, Radeon X1650, Dell Dimension XPS B866, Windows 7
M2 @ 250 MHz, 64 MB SDE, SiS5598, Compaq Presario 2286, Windows 98

Reply 47 of 62, by Caluser2000

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calvin wrote:

Your main problems are the machine is slow enough to make (normal) browsers suck, and the browsers are old enough they are likely incompatible with newer HTML, TLS, etc.

I'm not terribly worried about general internet usage on this box anyway and well aware the system is slow by todays standards. The whole point is the majority "recommended" distros mentioned earlier "suck" by default on a system like this. It'd be interesting to see what is the lastest version of Seamonky I could get running on the thing though.

Some may see it as a time wasting and not worth the effort but wtf it sure beats watching reruns on the television.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 48 of 62, by maximus

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My first exposure to Linux came from installing Damn Small Linux 4.4.10 on a Pentium MMX 233 with 144 MB of RAM. With much difficulty, I eventually managed to get just about everything working, including 2D hardware acceleration, PCMCIA WiFi, and ISA sound. Firefox 2.0 was painfully slow and already outdated, but I was still able to surf the web. Basic office applications worked as well (AbiWord, Gnumeric), and I even found a Linux port of Doom. 😁

For machines of that vintage, a better, more modern choice would be SliTaz 3.0 (4.0 is badly broken in my experience). SliTaz runs about as well as Damn Small Linux on the same hardware, but is much easier to use and has better software availability. My recollection is that Firefox 3.5 was available through an unofficial package (I was never able to get Chrome / Chromium running).

For somewhat newer machines with 512+ MB of RAM, Xubuntu and Lubuntu should be perfectly usable. I use Xubuntu as my primary OS and couldn't be happier. It gives me all of the advantages of being within the Ubuntu ecosystem without any of the Unity nonsense. Runs like a dream on my mid-spec modern notebook, and does quite well on some of my classic machines (Athlon XP, Pentium 4, etc.). For full-blown distros like these, RAM will be the main limiting factor.

As a side note, the switch to Linux has worked out really well for me. I like keeping my Internet / productivity sphere separate from my gaming sphere, and I haven't had to worry about the chaos surrounding Windows 8/10. I actually used to have nightmares about viruses destroying my primary Windows machine... I don't have those anymore.

PCGames9505

Reply 49 of 62, by ahendricks18

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I've been on a "hiatus" with the machine I installed Slack on for about a week (Thanks school!). ATM I'm going through the pain in the ass motions of installing DOS and then 9x. Ugh.

Main: AMD FX 6300 six core 3.5ghz (OC 4ghz)
16gb DDR3, Nvidia Geforce GT740 4gb Gfx card, running Win7 Ultimate x64
Linux: AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 1.5GB DDR, Nvidia Quadro FX1700 running Debian Jessie 8.4.0

Reply 50 of 62, by leileilol

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The last time I linuxed was in a VM trying out Mint w/ MATE attempting to compile binaries. How well does MATE fare on old pcs?

I couldn't boot Linux Mint 32-bit on a Pentium M so far.

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long live PCem

Reply 51 of 62, by pewpewpew

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leileilol wrote:

I couldn't boot Linux Mint 32-bit on a Pentium M so far.

?

It ought to run. It'll be pokey, but it ought to run just fine. Is this the earlier M that has PAE issues maybe?

Had Mint MATE 17.2 on my P4 3.06 2GB 7600GS. As above, it runs okay, it's just any single-core will quickly make you wonder why you're doing this. I'd consider that and my 1.73GHz Pentium M D610 to the bottom end for semi-serious Mint MATE use.

For lesser hardware, I've had luck with Lubuntu. LXLE, XFCE, AntiX didn't do so well.

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Reply 52 of 62, by calvin

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It boots, but you have to force PAE in the kernel's boot parameters. Not hard, just annoying. (I run Vista on it though, that seems fine.)

2xP2 450, 512 MB SDR, GeForce DDR, Asus P2B-D, Windows 2000
P3 866, 512 MB RDRAM, Radeon X1650, Dell Dimension XPS B866, Windows 7
M2 @ 250 MHz, 64 MB SDE, SiS5598, Compaq Presario 2286, Windows 98

Reply 54 of 62, by pewpewpew

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Ah. That's in the Release Notes.
http://linuxmint.com/rel_rafaela_mate.php

Booting with non-PAE CPUs
To boot Linux Mint 17.2 on CPU which do not officially support PAE (Pentium M processors for instance), please use the "Start Linux Mint with PAE forced" option from the boot menu.

Reply 55 of 62, by Caluser2000

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Had a small issue with accessing the fdd as a normal user in Xandros 2.0 Tried setting permissions/groups etc but for some reason using xffm in XFCE4 still no go, which I found odd. Was ok using the defaulf Xandros file manager in KDE. I had a Xandros 2.5 hdd just lying in the drawer doing nothing and now no issues at all.

SliTaz ran pretty sprightly but saw no way of trying a hdd install like you can with Xubuntu or DSL etc. As far as the desktop goes the earlier XFCE4 is certianly a bit more sprightly than the default Xubuntu 7.1 version and have it auto loading an startup. Fonts seem a lot clearer as well for some reason on the older one. Oh and an earlier Crung Bang ran on the 200mmx as well.

ahendricks18 wrote:

I've been on a "hiatus" with the machine I installed Slack on for about a week (Thanks school!). ATM I'm going through the pain in the ass motions of installing DOS and then 9x. Ugh.

I feel your pain. For giggles I ran dosbox on this system and apart from being slow, which is to be expected, it actually did work. Just to put things in perspective running Electro Man was about 5 times faster on my 286/12.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 56 of 62, by Caluser2000

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Just installed Zewalk from around 2009ish. Only hick ups were I had to edit the xorg.conf file to get a greater than 800 x 600 screen size and gdm wouldn't fire up so set it to text login. It installs a lot of extra stuff compared to Xubuntu but took less time to install and does seem to run a bit quicker. A by product of being Slackware based I guess. So rate this between Xandros and Xubuntu as far as desktop performance goes. Downside locating older repositories for it and the screen goes into an infinite loop on shutdown. The Debian based distros are fairly straight forward as far as getting other software though.

One CD I had here was of a MuLinux one. Boy it asked a lot of questions prior to firing up live 😉

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 58 of 62, by vladstamate

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Last year I've installed (and used for quite a while) Slackware 4.0 (with my own kernel compile) on my 386DX 40Mhz. No X just console but it ran fine (albeit a bit slow). I used it for example as a server for my MUD and various other programming stuff (like my chess engine) I was doing. Personally it was a fun experience for me to do that. I had 32Mb of memory (and a 387) installed and that helped a bit with performance. I just recently erased the HDD with it, but I am planning to get Slackware 8.0 (with kernel 2.6) running on the 386 again, just for fun.

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Reply 59 of 62, by ahendricks18

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Hey guys, sorry to bump an old thread. Anyway, I got an old Pentium M Dell Laptop and I installed Linux Mint on it without any issues. I even picked up a book that explains the *nix command line and all that. I wanted to try Arch linux, however the latter part of the installation requires downloads from the net and I'm not inclined to use up my bandwidth and potentially not like the OS.

vladstamate wrote:

Last year I've installed (and used for quite a while) Slackware 4.0 (with my own kernel compile) on my 386DX 40Mhz. No X just console but it ran fine (albeit a bit slow). I used it for example as a server for my MUD and various other programming stuff (like my chess engine) I was doing. Personally it was a fun experience for me to do that. I had 32Mb of memory (and a 387) installed and that helped a bit with performance. I just recently erased the HDD with it, but I am planning to get Slackware 8.0 (with kernel 2.6) running on the 386 again, just for fun.

Wow, do you think Slack 4.0 would work on a 386SX-40? I just built such a machine and I've yet to install the OS.

Main: AMD FX 6300 six core 3.5ghz (OC 4ghz)
16gb DDR3, Nvidia Geforce GT740 4gb Gfx card, running Win7 Ultimate x64
Linux: AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 1.5GB DDR, Nvidia Quadro FX1700 running Debian Jessie 8.4.0