Jump to content


 


Register a free account to unlock additional features at BleepingComputer.com
Welcome to BleepingComputer, a free community where people like yourself come together to discuss and learn how to use their computers. Using the site is easy and fun. As a guest, you can browse and view the various discussions in the forums, but can not create a new topic or reply to an existing one unless you are logged in. Other benefits of registering an account are subscribing to topics and forums, creating a blog, and having no ads shown anywhere on the site.


Click here to Register a free account now! or read our Welcome Guide to learn how to use this site.

Photo

Linux with old hardware


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 Bill253

Bill253

  • Members
  • 275 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Mexico, USA
  • Local time:02:06 AM

Posted 09 February 2011 - 11:48 AM

A bit of background.

I have a number of computers around the house here, let's see - 7 systems for our family of 4. Isn't that the American way? Part of it is my inability to dispose of things that are still working, but of little $$ value. No, wait, make that 8 systems including a TI-99a packed away in a closet. :crazy:

So, excluding the TI, the systems range from an old desktop that originally came with (and still has) Window98 FE to new laptops with Windows 7.

Over the years I have toyed with various Linux distributions with some limited success. A couple of months ago I ran across a review of Puppy Linux, which has stated goals of 'Extremely friendly for Linux newbies' and 'Will breathe new life into old PC's. Here's a link to the main Puppy Linux site, if anyone is interested. I downloaded it and have been quite impressed, as it does run well on most of my older hardware. The Lucid 5.2 version being my current favorite for the core-duo machine I'm using as I write this, but Wary 5.0 is nice too. So far I've only run them from the live CD, with 'pup-save' files written to the (NTFS C:/) HDD's.

Now I'm faced with a couple of challenges:

1) Still can't get Xwindows to work with the old win98 machine. It has a PII 350 mHz processor, recently bumped up to 348 MB ram, 30 GB HDD - recently repartitioned to about half FAT32 and half ext2. The FAT32 partition still has win98 on it and still works. Various Linux distributions to work on this box in text (ncurses) mode, but not Xwindows. I've pretty much concluded that the root of my problem with this box is the video card, a Number Nine Imagine 128 (I128 4 MB VRAM) PCI card. Though drivers supposedly exist for this card, I've never been able to get it to work at more than a really ugly and unusable 320x200 resolution.

This is pretty much at a dead end for now unless someone has any suggestions. The mobo does have an empty AGP slot and I've considered trying to get a different card for it, but don't know about compatibilities and really don't want to put much (any) money into it.

2) My 16 year old son has become interested in Linux. He has a HP Pavilion 526x (specs here) running XP, we recently bumped it to 1 GB ram. It also runs Wary 5.0 nicely from a live CD.

I was recently given a 40MB HDD that I've now formatted to about half NTFS to give his existing and almost full 60 MB drive some breathing room, and have 17+ MB's formatted for ext2. This drive is currently in my core-duo box where I can easily run Gparted on it, but plan on moving it to his 526x box.

So the question for challenge 2 is: which distribution would be 'the best' to put on the 526x box? I know we're in the realm of personal opinion here, but I'm open to suggestions.

Bill253

BC AdBot (Login to Remove)

 


#2 pane-free

pane-free

  • Members
  • 117 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Between the Mtns N of the Big River
  • Local time:01:06 AM

Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:54 AM

Challenge 1:

a) connochaet
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=connochaet

b) ubuntu-mini-remix (i386)
http://www.ubuntu-mini-remix.org/download/10.10/ubuntu-mini-remix-10.10-i386.iso

To prepare your hard drive, begin by downloading an early version (1.3.5) of SystemRescueCD at sourceforge (http://sourceforge.net/projects/systemrescuecd/files/sysresccd-x86/1.3.5/)

Next, get UNetbootin from the same source (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/). Then make a bootable small USB Flash Drive using UNetbootin and the sysresccd-x86-1.3.5 ISO file, both just downloaded.

Set your system BIOS to boot to USB first, then boot to your new System Rescue CD USB stick.

After it boots, SysRescCD wants you to hit defaults (hit Enter) a couple times. When you end up at the multi-colored prompt on the page asking user to enter either "startx" or "wizard," type in the following command

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=4096 conv=notrunc,sync

This will destroy all trace of any Windows File System, wiping your entire hard drive with zeros. It will take a while, depending on the size of your hard drive, so go make a sandwich or something. When it's done, you'll see some statistics after a statement that there is no "more space on drive" and the size of your hard drive.

Don't bail out yet!

At the same prompt, type in the desired "startx" and Enter
This brings up the XFCE mouse then a yellow-colored terminal.
In the yellow-colored terminal, type the command "gparted".

Partition your hard drive. If you don't know how, use the Slackware basic strategy of
one partition for root ( / ) -- 5GB, use ext4 file system;
one partition for swap -- 512MB should do; and
one partition for /home -- most or all of the remainder

NOTES: 1) in the OS install, when partition dialog pops up, choose Manual and then either Edit or Modify for each partition created previously with gparted, telling it to yes, use the partition, format it using ext4 file system for / and /home; swap should be okay. So, write down how you partition, noting /dev/sda1 or sda2 or sda3, size, label (if any), and file system (ext4); 2) a person could also download the ISO file and burn it to a CD, but if no CD burner, do as above.

It's easy. When done partitioning, simply enter the command "init 6" in the yellow terminal window and reboot follows.


Challenge 2:

a) antiX
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=antix

b) #!
http://crunchbanglinux.org/blog/2010/03/19/development-release-crunchbang-10-statler-alpha-1/

c) Peppermint One
http://distrowatch.com/?newsid=06446

d) Mint-9-lxde
http://www.linuxmint.com/edition.php?id=60

e) If he must go with ubuntu, go with SuperOS (Super Ubuntu)
http://hacktolive.org/wiki/Super_OS

Even with one gig of RAM, the Celeron will be "happier" if its user stays away from either Gnome or, especially, KDE.

Yes, e) has the Gnome Desktop Environment, so it will be slower that those above it.
Just be aware of it.

a) and b) have great forums; b) is going to be a good one to learn on, if patience and perseverence exist;
c) is one of my personal recommendations -- based on ubuntu but better adapted (this is also why I point ot SuperOS over stock ubuntu); d) is fun and shares a developer with c) so there are many similarities; a) will work on most anything and is Debian-based, along with b).

As a Debian distro, both can take advantage of the award-winning script called smxi (http://smxi.org/) which will save a lot of hassle and time after install for upgrades and which will not work with ubuntu-based distros. It is worth noting and definitely worth using should you wish to go with a) or B) or any true Debian-based distro.
There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.
W. C. Fields

#3 Capn Easy

Capn Easy

  • Members
  • 597 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Location:New Jersey
  • Local time:04:06 AM

Posted 10 February 2011 - 05:04 AM

I've mentioned elsewhere in this forum my daughter's experience with a nearly ten year old Compaq Presario laptop. We picked it up for $30 a year ago. It has a plain old Pentium processor, and less RAM and hard disk space than your W-98 machine. She has been running wattOS and she remains happy with it. It's built around Ubuntu, has a usable user interface, comes with good productivity software, and hasn't caused a problem yet.

#4 tekchallenged

tekchallenged

  • Members
  • 257 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Western Australia
  • Local time:04:06 PM

Posted 10 February 2011 - 09:33 AM

Have you tried xvesa on your puppy? Is it both xvesa and xorg that won't work?

As for what is best for your son, the answer is whatever he likes. Because it's free, there's no reason not to download whatever distro he likes the look of and give it a whirl, wipe it if he doesn't like it and try another. My choice is debian. After trying a whole heap, that's what appealed to me.
Feel free to assume that I won't know what you are talking about...

#5 pane-free

pane-free

  • Members
  • 117 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Between the Mtns N of the Big River
  • Local time:01:06 AM

Posted 10 February 2011 - 01:05 PM

I neglected to add that the proposed "solutions" are based on my experience only and are, therefore, subjective. It is good to hear and is the major benefit of fora such as this one other users' experiences and perspectives -- to which I say a hearty "thanks" to

@Capn easy -- glad to hear good news regarding wattOS. I tried to use the RC quite a while ago, was not successful and was disappointed, as it seemed a worthy distro with a commendable concept behind it, at the time.

@tekchallenged -- I agree and a teenager will likely do whatever he/she wants, anyway (I say this as a father)! BTW, another Debian distro based on antiX is Swift Linux. It, like puppy, is a LiveCD, and may prove useful. I liked it after a spin.

Regards and best wishes to all!

Edited by pane-free, 10 February 2011 - 01:07 PM.

There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.
W. C. Fields

#6 Bill253

Bill253
  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 275 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Mexico, USA
  • Local time:02:06 AM

Posted 10 February 2011 - 02:02 PM

Wow,

Thanks for all the responses. Now I have a lot to chew on.

tekchallenged - yes, I've tried both Xvesa and Xorg. Neither of them worked, except that I sort of got the unusable 2400 x 300 (I think...) resolution screen to come up using Xvesa.

What really bugs me about this is that the ancient and rather obscure I128 card works quite well with win98. This makes me think I'm missing something with setting up the Xwindows driver correctly. I have the original users guide and drivers disks for it. The Users guide is copyright 1995. I even have a OS/2 driver disk if anyone needs one! :hysterical:

pane-free - you've certainly given me a lot to work though, thanks! I'll see what I can do with your information. I'm certain I'll be back with more questions. Especially on attempts to get X to work on the old I128 card.

Capn Easy - thanks for your info about WattOS too. I may give that a try, especially on the old PII box. Somehow I suspect I'll run into the same X issues as I have with other distros, but it won't hurt to try.

#7 pane-free

pane-free

  • Members
  • 117 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Between the Mtns N of the Big River
  • Local time:01:06 AM

Posted 10 February 2011 - 06:58 PM

As long as the specs for the driver say it will function under XP, one should be able to use ndiswrapper and make it work under Linux.
See:
http://wiki.debian.org/NdisWrapper

Number Nine HawkEye 95 Display Driver for Imagine 128 Series 2 4.16 (9/12/97)
i2w9416p.exe
available at the sites below:

http://www.soft32.com/download/63-49500/www.microsoft.com
http://www.soft32.com/Download/Free/Number_Nine_Visual_Technologies_Imagine_128_Series_2_4_Meg_VRAM/4-181708-1.html
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://dw.com.com/redir?edId=3&siteId=4&oId=3000-2108_4-10017034&ontId=2108_4&spi=151f80e33eb7dbaa54d96522e2b7c620&lop=link&tag=tdw_dltext&ltype=dl_dlnow&pid=883776&mfgId=57735&merId=57735&pguid=pFwAngoOYJQAADFnRS8AAABN&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fdownload.cnet.com%2F3001-2108_4-10017034.html%3Fspi%3D151f80e33eb7dbaa54d96522e2b7c620
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Visual Info for Settings of the card
http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/graphics-cards/M-O/NUMBER-NINE-VISUAL-TECHNOLOGY-XVGA-IMAGINE-128.html
======================================================
BTW, Bill253, I'm a real NMSU Aggie.

Edited by pane-free, 10 February 2011 - 09:16 PM.

There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.
W. C. Fields

#8 Bill253

Bill253
  • Topic Starter

  • Members
  • 275 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New Mexico, USA
  • Local time:02:06 AM

Posted 11 February 2011 - 01:04 AM

Now why couldn't I find that stuff in my google searches... leave it to an Aggie! :thumbup2:

I used ndiswrapper successfully to get my wireless USB adapter to work on a (formerly XP) laptop with Puppy. I wonder how to get it to work with a display driver??? At least now I have a path to follow.

The stason.org link is definitely the card I have. Pretty sure mine isn't a Series 2, but no matter.

Thanks so much for the response.

#9 Dutch70

Dutch70

  • Members
  • 40 posts
  • OFFLINE
  •  
  • Local time:03:06 AM

Posted 11 February 2011 - 02:49 AM

Something else to think about :)

Your son will most likely love Compiz. We all do!
Xubuntu has Compiz. Google some of the youtube video's if you're not familiar.

Ubuntu has the "Gnome" desktop.
Xubuntu has "XFCE" desktop. lighter than Gnome.
Lubuntu has "LMDE" desktop. lighter than XFCE. Runs on almost anything.

The Ubuntu Forums is a great place to receive/give support for any of the buntu family.
Ubuntu Forums




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users