View Full Version : Old Computer needs help

April 22nd, 2008, 08:40 PM
I have an old computer that I would like to set up for my son. All he really wants to do is use GIMP. I would like it to have internet access also, but this is not a deal breaker.

Here's the specs.
Packard Bell Multimedia R500
200 MHz Intel Pentium
4.3 GB hard drive
56Kbps modem24x CDROM Disk Drive
Designed for Windows 95

It has W/95 on it right now. It doesn't do much by todays standards and about all he does is write stories and use Paint.

I need good direction on exactly which distro I should use.

I do not have a copy of 95 to reinstall if this goes awry.
I want to give him some better programs, but I can't install them on it. Every time I try to use one of my flash drives in his usb ports it won't recognize it.

I have a wireless router, so I could add capability to his tower if possible or necessary.
BTW- I think the 3 1/2 floppy drive is toast.

Thanks for any help!

April 22nd, 2008, 08:41 PM
damn small linux.

April 22nd, 2008, 08:42 PM
With a processor that speed DSL or Puppy is probably the way to go, as tamoneya mentioned above :)

April 22nd, 2008, 08:43 PM
Ouch, I thought mine was slow. :-p

With a computer that old and slow, Fluxbuntu might be the way to go. It's extremely lightweight and just as functional as the regular Ubuntu. Also, if all he uses is Paint, then Xpaint might be more suited then GIMP, since the computer is slow.

justin whitaker
April 22nd, 2008, 08:45 PM
You could go for Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux, or SliTaz.

You might also want to look into doing a low-memory install of Ubuntu.


April 22nd, 2008, 08:46 PM
While, as the folks above have pointed out, there are Linux distributions that can run in that tiny memory space, the problem for you is that even if Gimp will load, it will run so slowly as to be unusable in any practical sense. If you can add 128 megs, life may be much improved.

Good luck.

April 22nd, 2008, 09:08 PM
it will be tough at best to run any modern application with only 32mb ram. i have an old laptop that had only 32mb ram when i bought it, and found a stick of 128ram online for 22$. i wouldve put more, but 160 is the max i can have. i did a minimal install of ubuntu with xfce, and can surf the web and do some light work, but i wouldnt even think of running gimp on it. you may need to abandon the idea of running gimp on it, and consider spending a few dollars to buy a decent used computer. a P3 can be had for 75-100$.

April 22nd, 2008, 09:49 PM
Yeah Puppy or *dang* small linux is probably the way to go. With that slow of a computer. I have an about 10-13 year old computer that i ran ubuntu 7.10 on. it didnt sound much better than what your talking about. But i'd stick with one of the ^ ones, just to be safe. =]


April 22nd, 2008, 10:18 PM
you really need more ram 128 at least. It's really cheap at computer fix it shops ($5-$10us).

With ram, you could run puppy and it would run fine. I've run it on a p133 with 128mb ram before. It will take 15-20 seconds for apps like gimp to open though. After they open they should run fine.

You might want to check into tuxpaint for your son, depending on his age. It's a lot of fun for prek to 6th grade though.

April 22nd, 2008, 11:15 PM
I too suggest Slitaz it can be downloaded from
Its a very fast small system.
Don't be put off it is a french with english site.

April 23rd, 2008, 12:26 AM
More ram. Just guessing but I bet it uses 72 pin EDO ram.
Probably has 4 slots. EDO ram needs to be installed in pairs. Seems the going price on eBay 10 dollars for 4 sticks, enough to get it up to 128MB.

Puppy or PCFluxboxOS: (http://pcfluxboxos.wikidot.com/) should run ok if you get some adtional ram. And you can add gimp easy enough in either.

Hate to say it but an old slow computer without much ram works best with and old slow OS such as Win95.

All and all by the time you add more ram, and a network card you'll probably spend almost as much as if you had gone on Craigslist and found a P3.

April 23rd, 2008, 12:32 AM
Check out Deli Linux (http://delili.lens.hl-users.com/). "The test computer is a 486 laptop with 16 mb ram." (from the site.)

April 23rd, 2008, 01:12 AM
Wow, Thanks for all of the advice. Really don't want to spend any money on it if possible. My wife and I are going to try and get both of my boys new computers for Christmas.

Looks like Tux Paint would work with 95 if that version was available yet, but it's not.
So, without adding ram
DSL or DeLi Linux
But neither of those will do me any good if GIMP won't run.
He's a very good artist, even though he's 9 but, he may just have to wait until December.
I would like to get him started on 3D modeling and texturing early.

April 23rd, 2008, 02:38 AM
A couple of other things you might want to think about-
you could set up seperate user accounts for your kids on ubuntu on your main pc. If you set them so their user accounts each have their own user group, you can deny them access to the rest of the pc and keep them out of your stuff and prevent them from messing up the pc in general- your account, each others accounts and root. You can even set the permissions up this way so they can't open the home folders of other users/groups, except their own. It's easy to do- add a group for each kid (kidnamegroup), check some boxes and deny that group access to anything other than their own home folder and then a user that belongs only to that group (kidname). There's an extension in firefox that keeps the internet safe too- it allows you to ok any site before it's visited.

For 3d modelling, blender is best, and there are lots of websites with blender step by step tutorials. If your kid is smarter than average, he can handle it (I've got a 10 year old son who has spent quite a few hours following tutorials on blender, but I doubt his friends would have the patience).

April 23rd, 2008, 06:42 PM
Our household computer is my wife's computer.
She is really wanting to get the boys their own computers.
Mine is a laptop that I take back and forth to work. I'm not letting them near mine.:) It's a Sager NP5793.
I think we will be taking some of the $1800 we will be getting from "Bush's Refund" and getting them new computers.

April 24th, 2008, 03:54 AM
I just picked up 2 towers at a DAV thrift store for 20.00 a piece.
Both working. 1 with 376mb of ram ant 7.10 installed. It ran great. That might be an idea . Check thrift stores. And when
you get new ones the Boys & Girls club can always use them.