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View Full Version : Which OS for 10 year old computer?



Pogeymanz
August 17th, 2009, 08:40 PM
I know, I know: Use whatever I feel like. Everything is opinion. Blah Blah Blah.

If YOU happened to have an old Dell desktop with a 1GHz Pentium III, 160MB RAM and 60GB HD, what OS would YOU put on it and why?

I'm mostly debating between: Crux, *BSD (probably FreeBSD), and Gentoo.

I already use Arch as my main OS, so that would be boring. And I want something fast as snot, so Ubuntu and Debian, etc aren't for me. I've used Puppy and DSL extensively, so they aren't on the ballot either.


Also, I know I could upgrade the RAM, but I don't want to spend any money at all on something that is just a stupid toy with no practical reason for existing.

SunnyRabbiera
August 17th, 2009, 08:49 PM
I hear antix is pretty good for older computers,

jrothwell97
August 17th, 2009, 08:50 PM
SliTaz?

dragos240
August 17th, 2009, 08:51 PM
Gentoo. I would suggest.

RiceMonster
August 17th, 2009, 08:54 PM
Slackware definitely. Why? Because I like slackware, but it's too "primitive" (I'm talking about package managment) to use as my main OS. However on a spare computer would be great. It should run nicely on older hardware as well.

tom66
August 17th, 2009, 09:09 PM
I have a similar computer (it's an old Compaq). Ubuntu and Xubuntu all work well.

deadbeatdrum
August 17th, 2009, 09:16 PM
Windows 7, it has to be Windows 7. See here:

http://www.geektieguy.com/2009/08/03/running-windows-7-rtm-on-really-old-hardware/

You know you owe it to yourself, and Microsoft, to purchase the full retail version of Windows 7 Ultimate Extras Turbo Charged GTi with Random Doohickeys and Extra Boondongles. How can you say no?

Failing that I would suggest you check out Zenwalk, a Slackware (thanks Rice, I almost forgot) derivative that is rather nice to use as an everyday system.

http://www.zenwalk.org/

Blacklightbulb
August 17th, 2009, 09:18 PM
With those specs you still have a bit of a vast choice. Choose your distro keeping in mind what your gonna use it for. If you choose something too minimalistic is won't be too user friendly and particularly frustrating for a beginner (idk your capabilities ?!). For normal use I'd go with Xubuntu.

sydbat
August 17th, 2009, 09:20 PM
Windows 7, it has to be Windows 7.:lolflag:

swoll1980
August 17th, 2009, 09:23 PM
I might take heat for this, but I still think Win2k is the best choice for an old machine.

lykwydchykyn
August 17th, 2009, 09:24 PM
The age of the hardware is only one half of the equation. The other half is what you intend to use it for.

Frankly, in my own tinkering with various Linux distros on old hardware, I haven't seen much to convince me there is anything more to putting together a "lightweight" distro than the selection of apps/services/desktop environment. So I just tend to go with a distro I'm familiar with (in my case, Debian), install the most stripped-down CLI install, and build up what I need from there.

So basically, pick a distro that allows:
- minimal install
- a wide selection of packages
- CLI tools that you're comfortable with

BslBryan
August 17th, 2009, 09:25 PM
If you choose something too minimalistic is won't be too user friendly and particularly frustrating for a beginner (idk your capabilities ?!). For normal use I'd go with Xubuntu.

Nah, he's not a beginner. Also, he doesn't want any Ubuntu derivative. Even Xubuntu isn't as fast as some other distros.

I would go with openbox on Gentoo.


I might take heat for this, but I still think Win2k is the best choice for an old machine.
If you put a Windows OS on the computer, I'd take his suggestion and use 95 or 2000, but certainly not XP. If you want it's capabilities, you might want to use Neptune.

C!oud
August 17th, 2009, 09:32 PM
Slackware, trim it down and do a minimal install and it becomes a fantastic option. Learn to use slackbuilds and you'll have an incredibly robust and simple system.

NetBSD: one of my all time favorite operating systems, NetBSD is extremely minimal and straight forward. It's a system in which through simplcity just makes sense to me. Besides having a very very low memory requirement it's very easy to configure and tweak. For example, I find kernel configuration in NetBSD to be the easiest of any operating system. That being said I'd choose it over FreeBSD because I'm more comfortable with tweaking NetBSD and find it overall more intuitive.

Debian: a netinstall of Debian can go quite a ways and I've used it successfully on several older computers. I'm not a big fan of APT but Debian is something that I can continually trust to keep running and running and running and running...

Although Gentoo is my favorite linux distro I wouldn't use it in this situation unless the computer was my main machine simply because of time and effort. Otherwise though those specs aren't too bad and there's a huge range of OSs that you could choose from. These are just the first three that popped into my head but there are definitely others I'd consider using (Slax, Crux, Slitaz etc etc).

SunnyRabbiera
August 17th, 2009, 09:38 PM
I might take heat for this, but I still think Win2k is the best choice for an old machine.

Actually Win2K is a great windows OS, perhaps the best OS Microsoft ever made.


Windows 7, it has to be Windows 7. See here:

http://www.geektieguy.com/2009/08/03/running-windows-7-rtm-on-really-old-hardware/

You know you owe it to yourself, and Microsoft, to purchase the full retail version of Windows 7 Ultimate Extras Turbo Charged GTi with Random Doohickeys and Extra Boondongles. How can you say no?

Yeh but good luck using Win7 as a full production OS on a system like that, much less any other OS made nowadays.
Win7 might look good now but I will always remind people what happened with Longhorn.

deadbeatdrum
August 17th, 2009, 09:40 PM
I might take heat for this, but I still think Win2k is the best choice for an old machine.

Windows 2000 is still the only version of Windows I like and look upon with any degree of fondness. Or is it nostalgia? No product activation, no WGA. Those days are sorely missed. I don't mind entering a product license key for the software I paid for, but anything more is obscene.

I doubt Win2k still gets security updates. maybe business but not domestic. Pity.

sydbat
August 17th, 2009, 09:43 PM
Windows 2000 is still the only version of Windows I like and look upon with any degree of fondness. Or is it nostalgia? No product activation, no WGA. Those days are sorely missed. I don't mind entering a product license key for the software I paid for, but anything more is obscene.

I doubt Win2k still gets security updates. maybe business but not domestic. Pity.Extended support (http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?p1=3071) ends July 13, 2010.

Greg
August 17th, 2009, 09:50 PM
I'd probably do the CRUX install (or Lunar, but I heard that it's shutting down) and then use it as a CLI environment or put evilwm or dwm on it.

koleoptero
August 17th, 2009, 09:55 PM
I'd use crunchbang.

A friend of mine has a similar computer with ubuntu on it and no complaints.

ajgreeny
August 17th, 2009, 09:56 PM
With your small amount of ram I would look at Puppy Linux. It is a very good, small install and has a wide enough range of software for most jobs either in the default or available from the repository. You can even run it from the live CD but on shutdown you get the option to keep all your configs and docs and files etc etc in a file on the hard disk of your machine. It will put a user file on the disk which is a compressed version of everything, including the files needed to boot, which sounds rather like a normal install, but isn't quite the same thing. It just makes it all faster to boot the second and subsequent times compared to reading the CD, though that does need to be in the drive to boot the system. Once booted you can remove the CD and therefore the drive becomes available, not usually the case in live CDs.

deadbeatdrum
August 17th, 2009, 10:02 PM
Actually Win2K is a great windows OS, perhaps the best OS Microsoft ever made.

Yeh but good luck using Win7 as a full production OS on a system like that, much less any other OS made nowadays.
Win7 might look good now but I will always remind people what happened with Longhorn.

Sorry Sunny, I was extracting the urine with my initial comment about Windows 7. The guy in the article I pointed to had to do all manner of things to make Windows 7 run on a laptop that was superior to the OP's machine.

Sarcasm aside, as sydbat has since pointed out to me extended support for Win2k ends July 13, 2010. But I agree with you that Windows 2000 was the last best version of Windows.

Warpnow
August 17th, 2009, 11:06 PM
SliTaz?

Seconded.

Vakman
August 17th, 2009, 11:17 PM
I would have to say CrunchBang Linux (http://crunchbanglinux.org/). Mostly because it is quite lightweight using Openbox window manager and it is an Ubuntu based distro.
Damn Small Linux is also a nice choice. But I have had CrunchBang running on some pretty old hardware as well.

Jesus_Valdez
August 17th, 2009, 11:21 PM
Icebuntu!

That way you also support a fellow poster.

RedSquirrel
August 18th, 2009, 01:12 AM
If you decide to give Gentoo a try, please see the Get Gentoo! (http://www.gentoo.org/main/en/where.xml) page for information about the weekly stages.

At this point in time, the Gentoo Handbook (http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/) has not been updated to mention the weekly stages. It still talks about obtaining a 2008.0 stage3. You do not want that one. Make sure you get your stage3 tarball as described under the heading Gentoo Weekly Minimal Install CD and Stages on the Get Gentoo! (http://www.gentoo.org/main/en/where.xml) page.

Do not under any circumstances use the deprecated graphical installer to install Gentoo. It is a defunct project. Use the method described in the Handbook (http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/).

#11u-max
August 18th, 2009, 01:17 AM
Icebuntu!

That way you also support a fellow poster.

it might be a shameless plug on my part, but IceBuntu will run with VERY low resources!!!

IceBuntu.com, give it a try!

Frak
August 18th, 2009, 01:24 AM
I might take heat for this, but I still think Win2k is the best choice for an old machine.
Same.

Tamalin
August 18th, 2009, 01:28 AM
I ran Ubuntu Hardy once on an ancient laptop with a Pentium III processor, 256MB RAM, 10GB hard drive. It still booted faster than Vista, though. However, I'm pretty sure you can't install hardy with just 160MB of RAM. You might also want to check out FeatherLinux at http://featherlinux.berlios.de/.

oldsoundguy
August 18th, 2009, 01:31 AM
might be worth it to look into Linux Mint. I have it running on an old cellery, and it is rock solid. A bit SLOW, but you can run anything from the Ubuntu repositories in it (since that is what it is).
The only change I made on the install was to blow out the default music player and installed Amarok, which is in the package manager.

collinp
August 18th, 2009, 01:44 AM
I agree that Puppy Linux is a good choice, both in that it is light and that its based off Slack (I think?) which gives you the option of pre-packaged software using either their package manager (which I hate very, very much) or installpkg. You could also try DeLi Linux (http://www.delilinux.de/), which I have heard good things about and that is built for 486 computers on up to PIIIs and so on.

Another option would be DSL, or possibly CentOS, if you don't mind the fact that it was made with servers in mind.

Yet another option would be the previously mentioned Windows 2000, or anything earlier.

I also found a few links you might want to look at:

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Minimal_Linux_distros

http://lightlinux.blogspot.com/2008/06/top-10-of-lightweight-linux_24.html

http://www.junauza.com/2009/07/5-fast-and-lightweight-linux-distros.html

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=865469

http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/linux/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=203100989

http://distrogue.blogspot.com/2007/05/linux-lite-small-distros-for-old.html

RedSquirrel
August 18th, 2009, 01:49 AM
Never mind.

sailthesea
August 18th, 2009, 01:53 AM
I might take heat for this, but I still think Win2k is the best choice for an old machine.

Windows2000 is old and slow but still supported and despite being horribly abused on this machine with multiple boot/wubi setups it NEVER gives up So yeah keep it around if you have it!

lukeiamyourfather
August 18th, 2009, 02:00 AM
I'm surprised nobody has said DSL (Damn Small Linux). It runs very well on older machines and can be installed to the hard disk. A friend of mine uses Knoppix on some old notebook with 128MB of memory and can still browse the web and do basic tasks. Cheers!

Pogeymanz
August 19th, 2009, 10:27 PM
Okay, here is what I've narrowed it down to. Which of these do you think is the fastest?

Crux
NetBSD
Slackware

Basically the computer will be for regular desktop tasks, but maybe for testing alpha software or compiling stripped kernels or something that I wouldn't want to mess with on my main rig.

I'm leaning toward NetBSD. Would Free or Open be any faster?