No, my RetroRigs are online a lot. That's where the "net" in "Creepingnet" comes from - I've been doing this for over 20 years now. Granted, most of my stuff is so old it's no longer a target or really useful.
gerry wrote on 2021-01-18, 10:58:
I do. […]
Out of all the machines I own i only allow a couple cheap 4 year old windows 10 machines and a 7 year old laptop with Linux to go online
all the others, even a couple that could still just about cope with the modern internet and have windows 7 - stay offline
it's mostly for security reasons, why take a risk with unsupported systems?
You're using a lot more at risk and far more impacted systems than I do. I'm running 1st generation Pentium (<100MHz) systems online at the newest. Everything else I have either runs WIndows 10, whatever the latest Mac OS is, and Linux Mint and updated frequently. Even then, with a fully updated modern system, in some ways those are less secure than a vintage system is because a vintage system lacks certain features and expansions, as well as a progressively smaller "Forest" for any nefarious software to hide in as you go back in the history of the computer.
Putting a vintage machine online is like putting a vintage car on the road and driving it. You can't just hop in it like your brand new Subaru, turn the keys, and let ABS, traction control, driver assist, and set the "Driving Mode" to "cruise" and it all works nicely. I liken things like tweaking and tuning mTCP or setting up your network to handle a Win9x box akin to standing in your driveway and tuning your carburator or setting the camber on the tires on the weekend. It's not something everyone here wants to do or can do, but it's something some of us enjoy. Some people will enjoy their "Sport Mode" in their modern car, some people will buy an old car and put an LS Swap in it (ie i7 in a 386 Chassis), and some people will just enjoy watching the tinkerer and his fine vintage car.
it's also for usability, just using a modern browser and looking at youtube seems to choke machines that can run doom3 happily
Nothing I have can run DOOM3, heck, a few can't even run DOOM 1 (8088, 286). There's a lot more to the internet than surfing YouTube and social media. To go back to the vintage car analogy, you can't "drive the car" the same way either. You don't have ABS, you don't have Traction Control, there is no ECU - your Carburator can stall your engine out on a steep incline - you'd better know what you are doing - and with vintage computers, it's no different. Basically, all that - dare I say it - computerized safety you have today is no longer there. Everything is manual and common-sense based. That's part of the fun. And of course, you're not going to take your underpowered 1967 BMW Isetta on the highway with 25HP, 3 gears, and what basically counts as a cookie jar on wheels - but it's fine for touring around in the parade or town. So most of my vintage stuff runs around AIM Phoenix, Telnet BBS, FTP servers online, old non-https websites, IRC, or other old/ancient/legacy services. You're not going to take a major road trip in a Model T Ford, nor are you going to go watch Adrian's Digital Basement on a Tandy 1000.
where the type of internet access might suit an old machine, it may as well be done on a new one
Well, with that line of thought, you can run all those games, including Doom 3, on a modern computer with a Virtual Machine or Compatibility Mode, so why should we even keep our vintage machines when we have DOSbox, PCEmu, or Oracle Virtualbox? The reasons are the same as why people choose to keep driving vintage cars - because of a mixture of nostalgia and the experience. Plus many of us, myself included, are tech inclined and find it relaxing, fun, or educational to tinker with old hardware and even make it useful again. I see myself as the cyber-form of the guy driving down the street with the nicely kept Ford Model "A" coupe or 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang convertible, and VOGONS, VcFed, and so on, are like the "Hot August Nights" car show for vintage PC enthusiasts.
And those of us that do don't always use our vintage hardware for everything. Day to day I use 2 different LInux boxes, a 2015 iMac, a brand new i7 laptop at work, when its more convenient or when some actual big work needs done. While I'm a huge fan of using vintage PC's for productivity, like how the writer for Game of Thrones uses a 286 with Wordstar 6 for writing his scripts, there's some things these old PC's can't do, that's where the modern silicon takes over. Car analogy - the guy with the 64 1/2 Mustang might drive it to work once in awhile when it's nice out, but you know most days he's probably driving something modern on the same roads because it's more convenient.
And some of it is for giggles and/or fun. Like showing up at starbucks with my vintage NEC VErsa M/75 tethered to my Cell Phone, decked out in 90's attire around halloween, to just play some games and have a sip of coffee - and the fun conversations it can stir up. It's also a good way to build contacts to obtain parts/hardware/etc and meet other fellow retro people. That's like going to a car show for me with my vintage PC. Heck, beore COVID, we even had some conventions like the ones VCFED holds that you could take your old stuff to to show off.
however having old machines on a home network completely protected from the online world, seems like a good idea
The amount of safety I think is a "hump" rather than a linear line - with the summit of the "hump" being machines within the 3-7 year old time frame - ie, all these old, updated, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 computers and older Mac OS machines that people are often forced to use because they can't afford to replace them. That's a totally different use-case than us here, that's like the person with the beat old car on your block that they can't afford to replace. They're doing what they can. It's a concern for security because these people are typically not technically inclined, not very high income, or don't see their computer as a priority or a security risk (lack of education). I'm the guy cruising by in his 94 1/2 NEC Versa Convertible on a sunny weekend, while the guy down the street with the backfiring 13' Dell Inspiron with sloppy IRQ steering, security rust holes, and a copy of Windows 7 with 220 pending updates for the last 12 years is the guy to look out for. Unfortunately, I Feel we are a bit under-represented and lumped in with the guy with the old Dell because our machines - in the mainstream eyes - are "oooooold". Once you get past the Pentium 4 generation, things get progressively safer through both a lack of system resources, outdated "Slow" ways of doing things, and operating systems with security holes that would host nothing useful, and are so old and slow nobody would waste their time going through it to get at a modern machine if it's even possible with proper security measures set.
There's actually some security provided by age as well. 486's and older can't get get attacked by the two big Intel CPU security holes from years ago because they don't have out of order execution. And because they require 32-bit code, that counts out the 286, 186, and 8086 and their relatives from both for sure. Most of the really nasty stuff out there today will not run on Win9x, Win3x, DOS, or old Mac OS, or require services from LInux that are no longer in use. Modern Windows 10 blocks using SMB 1.0 protocol for file shares - so no connectivity to older WIndows from 2000 on back without re-enabling it, and even then, you can only allow the new machine to reach out to the host if you really need to. And anything running in Pure DOS is running a single-user, single-tasking O/S that would require a DPMI of some kind to be able to multitask, and a lot of that memory stuff is so specific it'd be easier to use nefarious activities in DOS to temporarily crash the machine than actually do anything that does real damage.
But like I said, it's for fun, and a lot of it is common sense. Unless you're making Amazon transactions somehow on a 25+ year old PC - which is impossible with out using a Web Rendering Proxy (which then you're protected by a modern system), or storing your personal info on these old machines, and surfing wares and porn sites with them (which also likely would not work anyway) - you're pretty safe. And using DOS and having networking on only when you intend to use it makes it even more safe, because now you're a moving target, so even in the extremely unlikely event that a bot targeted your host or a hacker targeted you specifically somehow - they would have a hard time predicting when your machine is going online or offline.