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Thread: Old hardware brought back to life

  1. #1
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    Lubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark

    Old hardware brought back to life

    Contents: A long, but easy to read collection of advice for beginners and intermediate users. If you have a problem please read in full length and don't get scared by the volume. The fact that the text is long is not an indication that installing is difficult, it's just a result of the text trying to deal with many different problems, also some which are fairly unlikely to encounter. Though the guide was born in 2012 it is receiving steady updates, latest 2017-10-29.


    Various Linux distros are known as a good option for bringing old hardware back to life and the forum is receiving a steady stream of questions on the topic.

    The thread is created in order to keep the experience and advice regarding old hardware in one place. Many of the considerations, recommendations and warnings from one problem can and should be reused by other people.

    The purpose of the thread is
    1. to keep old hardware useable as long as possible meaning that the computer is able to support not only an operative system but also a selection of everyday applications, for example a browser at a reasonable speed or a movie player.
    2. to prevent people from wasting time on hopeless hardware.


    The main release, Ubuntu, used to be lightweight and suitable for old hardware, but recent releases are targeting new systems with more graphics horsepower.

    The little-known Ubuntu derivative Lubuntu is much lighter, as can be seen in the list of memory requirements for various Buntus, and a good candidate for this purpose. Lubuntu and Ubuntu use a shared repository, so applications known to run on Ubuntu can also be used on Lubuntu.

    Some people are uncomfortable with issuing commands at the prompt. In this guide you are not required to invent your own commands, just copy the relevant ones from the text with control+c and insert them into a terminal. Don't write them by hand.


    1) Which version to install?
    Our starting point is a fresh install of Lubuntu 17.10, keeping 16.04.03 as a fallback option if 17.10 fails. Many other lightweight distros are available but as a first try we are focusing on these two. If the one you picked first creates problems please don't post and ask for help, it's better to install the other one to see if the problem is solved there.

    Though 16.04 is still supported in the sense that security related bugs are fixed most non-security bugs are left unfixed and in general the software is dated, offering less functionality than 17.10.

    From around 13.04 Lubuntu has been a solid system, and 17.10 certainly is. Now this highly stable version based upon the LXDE desktop environment has got a new sibling, the LXQt-based Lubuntu Next, which looks promising but still unstable. This text focuses on the classic LXDE version but nevertheless people are encouraged to experiment with Next.

    In the guide we first test the hardware capabilities before deciding what to install but if you can't wait or if it's not possible to run a live boot you can just take the chance and go straight to the install described in 3).


    2) Hardware
    The main rule is that software in the Buntu world works more or less everywhere. Some exceptions apply, though.

    Hardware Age (approx.) Occurrence Examples of applications which don't work Remarks
    32 bit without SSE2 2001-2 Rare Firefox, Chromium, Chrome, Skype
    32 bit without PAE 2003-4 Rare Chrome, Skype Needs a special install procedure.
    See later in the guide
    other 32 bit - 2008 Common Chrome, Skype
    64 bit 2003 - Common
    Skype is still accessible when running a 32 bit computer. Just use the web interface in stead of the old application which needs installation.

    These restrictions are good to remember when reading the thread.

    Let's begin with a simple test to see if the hardware in question is a) fairly old but straightforward to deal with or b) very old and needs some tricks.

    Using any Linux distro, installed or from a live boot, please copy the command into the terminal and run. It takes some seconds to complete.
    Code:
    sudo lshw -C cpu | grep -i sse2
    If you get a line full of abbreviations everything is good. Chances are that the install is simply next, next, next, finish.

    If the command doesn't yield an output your computer is at least 15 years old. It will be running most open source programs (with Firefox as a notable exception) fine but closed source programs like Flash player and Skype might give problems but do you really need them or are they just an old habit? More important, we are dealing with a slow processor so consider if it's worth the effort, especially if you are new. See post #2 in the thread.

    (Details: The command above checks if the processor has the SSE2 instructions set. In the Intel family the oldest member with SSE2 is a Pentium 4 and for AMD the oldest is a K8. Though SSE2 is not necessary for an open source Lubuntu install it still serves as a baseline for reasonable performance.)

    The command
    Code:
    sudo lshw -C cpu | grep -i width
    tells if you have a 32 or 64 bit processor. If it's 64 bit and you have at least 2 GiB of memory then a 64 bit ISO is recommended.

    Memory: The command
    Code:
    sudo dmidecode -t memory | grep -i size
    shows the size of the present memory, for example 2*1024 MB. A total of 512 MiB is minimum, 1 GiB is better and if you can go higher then please do.

    Code:
    sudo dmidecode -t memory | grep -i max
    shows the maximum size of memory that the motherboard supports.

    Code:
    sudo lshw -short -C memory | grep -i empty
    tells if you have empty slots available for more memory. The output is one line for each empty slot, so if there's no output all slots are used.

    If you are stuck with less than 512 MiB see post #2.

    Drives
    Code:
    sudo lshw -short -C disk
    shows the drives of the system, including CD/DVD drives. You can see the size of the hard disk and decide if it's big enough for the intended use.

    If Gparted or the df command show some strange partitions or don't show any at all it is likely because of Fake-RAID. If that's the case and if you don't want to keep Windows which may be installed here I suggest that Fake-RAID be disabled so the disks are functioning independently. The text in the hyperlink explains why.

    Display server
    You might have heard that Ubuntu 17.10 is switching from X11 to Wayland as a display server. Lubuntu stays for the time being with the dated but highly stable X11. One can see which server is in use by running the command
    Code:
    inxi -Fxz | grep -i display
    If the output contains X.Org the X11 display server is active and one does not have to worry about people posting this-and-that about Wayland.

    Hardware modifications
    Changing graphics card if we are dealing with a desktop computer and adding a bigger and / or faster hard disk can make a significant difference but in general there's no point in changing the processor; given the socket there's a limited selection to choose from. The only exception are old Celerons which sometimes can be swapped for a much better performing true Pentium. Old spare parts are cheap; take a look at what is offered in the second hand market, what your IT department at work is going to throw out and what you can salvage from a dumpster.

    The older and hence slower the hard disk the more important is zram and/or swappiness, as explained in a later post. 2,5" disks used in portables are generally worse than 3,5" disks in stationary computers.

    Adding memory is the single most efficient step one can take. As mentioned 1 GB is fine, but if the computer can cope with more then by all means give it some.


    If the hardware does not meet these requirements one should consider if it's worth the effort to carry on. There is so much used (say, 4-8 years of age) gear around that one can get for free or cheap. The system requirements of Windows are pushing more and more computers into the ‘old’ category even though they are in good working order.

    Various websites might post lower requirements. Chances are they focus on the operative system itself, not the applications, which is very unfortunate as it only gives people a false hope. If you see something which looks too good to be true, it probably is.

    From time to time people discuss the option of using an old computer as a file server, if it's too old to support a GUI. Before going this route one should consider the size of the hard disk and judge if it's really worth it. A flash drive of 32 or 64 GB is cheap these days. Another idea not worth promoting is giving a kid the old computer for gaming; it's likely to fail because games, also browser based ones, are among the heaviest applications.

    An interesting blog about old hardware and realistic expectations.


    3) Installing the operative system
    First of all: The solution to getting old hardware into usable condition is not old software. When software has reached end of life and is abandoned by the developers no security fixes are provided, and for obvious reasons people should not run such a system. Don't use it, no matter how fast it runs or how much you like the user interface.

    The ISO files for installing can be downloaded from the link ribbon at the top of the page or from a torrent.

    If the computer is one you have salvaged from a dumpster or which has been given to you I suggest that you begin with completely erasing the hard disk.

    Installation should be done from a USB stick, if the computer is young enough to support it, or else from a CD or DVD. Best is to use a wired internet connection. If the install hangs at the very end with no explanation given just push Return.

    Should the standard Lubuntu ISO not work then the alternate (a pseudo-graphical installer) or the minimal ISO are good options. Furthermore, if booting from USB does not work and if the CD/DVD drive is on the brink of failing it's worth trying the minimal ISO which is only about 30 MB. Often a semi-working CD drive will accept this.

    The alternate ISO might be a step older than the regular one, that is 16.04.1 in stead of 16.04.2. This should not keep people away from using it.

    Even if a live boot does not work, neither from USB nor from DVD, it's worth a try to install using one of these ISO's.

    During the minimal install you will get the option of adding additional packages (lubuntu and other desktops, various servers, ...) at the end. I recommend that you skip this, doing a command-line only install. After a reboot you just have to run one of these commands
    Code:
    1) sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop
    2) sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop --no-install-recommends
    3) sudo apt-get install lubuntu-core
    to get a complete desktop. The commands are ordered from the full-blown Lubuntu (1) to the smallest and lightest (3). After the install, which can take some time, reboot the system with
    Code:
    sudo reboot now
    Next time you will be greeted with a GUI.

    Regardless of which ISO you choose always use wired internet access while installing, during the first boot and when applying the first batch of bug fixes.

    If you get an error about PAE the easiest solution is to add the forcepae flag. Guidelines are in the PAE text, which also describes other ways to solve the PAE problem.


    If everything works well just skip section 3B and 3C.


    3 B) Graphics processors which need special settings
    For Lubuntu 17.10 and 16.04 most graphics processors work without modifications but some of them are better off with a personal treatment.

    a) Adding the nomodeset boot option is a good all-round attempt at troubleshooting Nvidia and AMD/ATI problems.

    b) If the command
    Code:
    lspci | grep -i vga
    yields

    Code:
    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 82865G Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 02)
    or similar old Intels you could try to create an /etc/X11/xorg.conf file with the following contents:

    Code:
    Section "Device"
        Identifier "Intel Graphics"
        Driver "intel"
        Option "AccelMethod" "uxa"
    EndSection
    There's a tab in front of the three middle lines. It may or may not give a clearer display than the vanilla install which does not include an xorg.conf. Try with and without, if there's no improvement just delete the file.

    The easiest approach is creating the file xorg.conf in your home directory using any ANSI editor you like. When the file is finished execute the command
    Code:
    sudo cp xorg.conf /etc/X11/
    in the directory where you created xorg.conf in order to copy the file to the right location. Reboot.

    The xorg solves among other things the problems of Flash player showing strange green/purple colours and a greyed/blacked-out address in Firefox as seen to the right: firefox_intel_graphics.png
    The UXA setting also solves other problems for Intel graphics processors. Use it for general troubleshooting for Intel. For advanced use click here.

    Remember that Intel cards (and possibly others, too) switch to a low number of colours when given a heavy work load like showing a film in high resolution. If you see this it's not a driver or configuration problem but the intended mode of operation.

    c) HP dv6's are infamous for overheating. The problem is partly solved by thorough cleaning of fan and heat sink (see later in the text), but adding the radeon.dpm=1 parameter also helps. More here.

    d) From release 17.04 a number of old graphics processors are partly losing support (see comment #8). If you have one of these it's better to stick to 16.04.2 because 17.10 will probably feel slow. VESA drivers as mentioned below should still work for 17.10, though.

    e) Cards from Silicon Integrated Systems / SIS are often difficult to work with. There are some threads with advice here, here and here . Most is written for 14.04 but some of it also applies to 16.04.

    f) Advice for very old Nvidia Geforce cards.

    g) 'Malfunctioning' Nvidia cards of the 61xx series are a recurring topic in the forum. Though, what is malfunctioning is not the card but often the software. Do a fresh install of Lubuntu and allow closed-source drivers which are offered during the installation (not after a reboot).

    h) If the graphics processor gives a strange picture using the default settings it's possible to switch to the older VESA standard. It's a good option if everything else fails and it should be promoted more in Ubuntuforums.

    • When installing, at the boot screen press F6
    • A list of boot options appear. Press Escape to close the list
    • Now a string of options is visible, often ending in a double dash (--)
    • At the end, after the dashes, add a space and "vga=791" without the quotes
    • Press return and the install begins.

    More about adding boot options and about VESA codes.

    If the 791 setting works well you could try to increase resolution and / or colour depth with 792, 794 or 795.

    The drawbacks for VESA are slow graphics and a limited number of screen resolutions.


    i) If the graphics card is older than

    • Intel: 865 series
    • Nvidia: 5xxx series
    • AMD/ATI: R300 series

    it's recommended to switch to something better. VESA drivers as mentioned above sometimes help but often the only sensible approach is to search for a stronger card.

    If you are thinking of changing card the performance list is useful for comparing various options. Don't get scared by seeing that new cards are tens of times faster than yours, for ordinary use the performance of present day cards is overkill.

    Remember to look up the exact name. There are for example at least four different GeForce FX 5900's.


    3 C) Distros outside the Buntu family
    If you in spite of the advice in 3B still don't get a satisfactory picture, neither in Lubuntu 17.10 nor 16.04, other light distros are worth a try.

    Debian, Puppy (which comes in many versions), Knoppix and Bodhi Linux are good options. More distros are listed here if people want to experiment, but before choosing one of the minor distros remember to check how well it is maintained. Never use an unsupported distro or a distro where bug fixes are released so slowly that it's almost unsupported. This excludes for example Damn Small Linux, which is sadly still mentioned in Ubuntuforums. Please let it rest in peace.

    If you are going to search for something else than Lubuntu it should be because of hardware support or because you prefer another look and feel, not because of lightness. None of the light distros put any significant workload on the system anyway, the load comes from the browser and other (multimedia) applications which are heavy no matter in which distro they run.


    3D) BIOS
    If the install still does not work you could try resetting BIOS to default values and / or upgrade the BIOS to a later version. Before upgrading remember to search the web and see if people have bad experiences with this for your particular hardware. Don't be afraid of general warnings which may not apply to your machinery.

    A working BIOS can often be tuned to yield a better performance, for example by disabling diskette drives and other things which are not needed.


    4) Applications
    ‘Light applications’ is a neverending topic. Only brief advice is given here, otherwise I leave it to the user to experiment.

    If sound does not work in Firefox it's likely because the new versions require Pulseaudio which is not part of Lubuntu by default. The easiest solution is switching to Chromium which installs with the command
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install chromium-browser
    Adding Flashblock to the browser gives a significant increase in speed. Other ad-reducing plug-ins are worth testing, too.

    Trying a lighter browser like Pale Moon, Xombrero / Xxxterm or Epiphany may or may not speed things up. The packages are small so it’s an easy test to do. The even lighter browser links2 gives a crude text display with embedded images but nothing more - no pop-ups, no animated GIF's and no video ads (scrolling is done with right mouse button or with Page Up/Down). After years of exposure to pages bloated with irrelevant ads and animations it's a joy to see only plain text. The command for installing is
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install links2
    More suggestions about browsers here. Stay away from Midori as it is not keeping up with security threads.

    It's recommended to add 'Resource Monitors' to the bottom panel and keep an eye on CPU and memory usage. Just right-click on the panel, and the rest is self-explanatory.

    Lubuntu comes with the light office applications Abiword and Gnumeric in stead of the more usual Libre Office. As we have already required that the computer runs a browser with acceptable speed it also has the power to run Libre Office, so the two applications should not be kept because of lightness.

    If you want to switch to Libre Office the commands

    Code:
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
    sudo apt-get install libreoffice
    sudo apt-get install libreoffice-help-xx
    sudo apt-get install libreoffice-l10n-xx
    sudo apt-get --purge remove abiword
    sudo apt-get --purge remove gnumeric
    are all you need (where xx is your two letter country code - not all are available).


    Both Libreoffice and Abiword are known to flicker on various kinds of hardware. An easy workaround is to open Preferences -> Customise look and feel, as seen to the thumbnail to the right. On the Widget tab select Crux and on the Icon Theme tab select Adwaita. Wait some seconds for the effect to take effect before pushing Apply.

    Also other combinations are possible. More options here.

    In addition to a more pleasant view the light theme also gives less processor load and battery drain.
    look_and_feel.png

    Flash
    A standard install of Lubuntu can't play Flash video. I consider this a big advantage because Flash has all the drawbacks of closed source, and more and more of the major web sites like Youtube are moving from Flash to HTML 5. Chances are that you don't have to worry about Flash at all but if you need it can be installed:
    1. For 64 bit computers the easiest way to get Flash is installing Chrome (not Chromium) where the latest Flash player is built in from the beginning.
    2. A 32 bit computer with SSE2 (the vast majority of them) needs restricted-extras as described below
    3. A 32 bit computer without SSE2 needs the package as described in post 2 in the thread.


    Chrome for 64 bit computers is installed by downloading the .deb file from the Google web site. After that the commands
    Code:
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install libappindicator1 
    sudo dpkg -i <path_to>/google-chrome-stable_current_*
    do the trick. Installing libappindicator1 before the deb file prevents a dependency error.

    A guide for getting Netflix working on 32 bit computers.


    The recent version of Google Earth does not work with older graphics cards. If one wants Google Earth then installing version 6 is the best approach:

    Run the commands
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install lsb-core
    sudo apt-get install xfonts-75dpi xfonts-100dpi
    and after that download version 6.2.2.

    When the deb file is downloaded it is installed with the command
    Code:
    sudo dpkg -i <path_to>/googleearth*

    Running
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install lubuntu-restricted-extras
    installs a number of closed source packages necessary for playing mp3 files, Flash and the like. During the install a dialog box asking for permission to install Microsoft fonts appear but as the mouse does not work here one has to use TAB and SPACE to get to the buttons.

    More on getting Flash and other closed-source formats to work.


    5) Drivers
    If open-source drivers are available (for sound, network, bluetooth and other cards) one can expect them to be in good condition because the hardware has been known to the developers for many years giving time for debugging and testing. A plain, default installation performed with wired internet access is often the only step a user needs. Remember to reboot and apply all updates as explained in the next paragraph.

    Afterwards, if a wirefree card needs drivers the dedicated forum has plenty of advice. Please read the sticky notes there before posting. Some good commands for testing network speed are here.

    It might be difficult to enter the password for the wirefree connection because of a fast time-out. The solution is simple: Write the password in Leafpad or similar editor, copy it, open the wirefree application and paste it into the right place.

    If the wifi connection is unstable the first step is to switch off power management using the sed command mentioned. It does not produce any output. Reboot after that.

    The open source nouveau drivers for Nvidia graphics processors have improved a lot during the latest releases, especially for the recent processors. This is one of the reasons why people should always consider the latest Lubuntu and not always cling to LTS. If closed source Nvidia drivers give problems with screen tearing there is a solution for that.


    6) Maintenance
    An often overlooked part of getting an old computer into a useable condition is cleaning the interior dust build-ups, especially around the fan and heatsink. Take care not to damage the fans by forceful vacuuming and remember to only vacuum in the reverse direction of the normal air flow. Best is to block the fan with a tooth pick or piece of wire while cleaning to prevent it from spinning too fast. If we are dealing with a desktop remember that it likely has several fans (for CPU, GPU, power supply and more).

    Short bursts of compressed air also helps. Again, only in the reverse direction of the normal air flow.

    Remember to check that the fan is turning freely after cleaning.

    Many good guides are available describing how to take hardware apart. Here's for example a list for Toshiba.


    On the software side the only maintenance needed is

    Code:
    sudo apt update
    sudo apt dist-upgrade
    <maybe reboot here>
    sudo apt clean
    sudo apt autoremove
    once in a while. The last command is important because it removes old kernels and saves hard disk space. Without this command the boot partition could fill up with old kernels, causing the whole package management to grind to a halt, so make it a habit of running the command whenever you are in doubt. It should however only be used when the computer is in good working order so there's no need for reverting to an old kernel.

    If the computer does not automatically ask for updates shortly after the install it's especially important to run the commands.

    A file system needs some free space to perform well. The command
    Code:
    df -Th
    shows in percent how much space is used for various mounts. A good rule of thumb is never letting any of the measures exceed 75%.

    The similar command
    Code:
    df -i
    shows the number of available inodes. There are many explanations for inodes on the web, for now it will be enough to know that the percentages shown should be as low as possible. If you see high numbers just run the autoremove command mentioned above.

    The command
    Code:
    sudo find /home -name '*' -size +50M
    tells which files in the /home directory are more than 50 MB of size. It's useful for cleaning if space is getting tight. Remember to empty the trash can afterwards.


    7) Sound
    Sound problems in Firefox is mentioned in paragraph 4: Applications.

    For other problems with sound first step in troubleshooting is installing Pulse Audio Volume Control with the command
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install pavucontrol
    After that open the application, check that nothing is muted and play around with the settings. Surprisingly often it solves the problem, for example when using USB devices for sound.

    Next step is the sound troubleshooting thread.


    8) Who is going to use the computer?
    If you are installing for a non-technical user some settings are worth considering:

    A) Set software updates to 'automatic' as seen in the screen shot. In some instances the function is reportedly broken so it's nevertheless still a good idea to run the series of update commands described in point 6) above.
    software_updater.png

    B) Disable the option for reporting bugs. It's not helpful to deliver a system and telling the user to 'just ignore the dialog box about error reporting which might come up'.

    Bug reporting is controlled by the application Apport, which again is controlled by the file /etc/default/apport. Changing enabled to 0 disables the function. The file can be opened and edited by hand, but it's faster to issue the command
    Code:
    sudo sed -i s/enabled=1/enabled=0/ /etc/default/apport
    The command does not produce output.

    Remember to reboot for the change to take effect.


    9) Environmental impact
    It is a widely held belief that old hardware shouldn’t be used because of power consumption. Generally the truth is opposite: Old hardware is often less greedy than new, if one compares within the same category (desktop versus desktop, for example). The power consumption of newer machines per unit of calculation is lower, but not the total power consumption of the machine.

    However, the biggest benefits from using an old computer as long as possible is less production of new hardware and less e-waste to be handled, both of which are causing serious environmental problems. Add to this the joy of using hardware without a software vendor trying to force people to pay for a pre-installed operative system.

    If you have managed to bring an old computer back to usable life you should not be ashamed for being old-fashioned but proud of taking care of the environment.


    10) Further improvement
    Third post in the thread gives some suggestions for what to trim and adjust after install.


    11) Still in doubt?
    If this does not answer all your questions you are of course welcome to post but please read #4 first.

    = = =
    Thanks to MG&TL for proof-reading.
    Last edited by mrgs; 3 Weeks Ago at 06:53 AM. Reason: Modified for 17.10

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Distro
    Lubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark

    Really old hardware

    The previous post dealt with fairly old hardware. Here are some additions for really old stuff.

    A) Old as in 'not SSE2-enabled'
    Lubuntu itself and most of the popular open source packages run fine without SSE2. The main problems are Firefox and a few closed source applications like Flash and Skype which depend upon SSE2 so if you don't need them you can just install the regular way.

    Regarding the browser: Pale moon is an option for 32 bit computers without SSE2. If you want to try the browser, just download the compressed archive, extract the files and doubleclick the file named palemoon. Remember to look for updates yourself as they don't appear through the normal apt channel. Firefox offers an Extended Support Version for computers without SSE2.

    Some solutions for the other SSE2 problems are

    • use a better alternative (HTML 5 in stead of Flash; Google Talk, Ekiga or other alternatives in stead of Skype)
    • For Flash: Install an old Flash package which does not need SSE2.

    The link above displays a bunch of ads and might try to install some Windows junk onto your computer but as you are probably running Buntu when clicking the link it does not matter. The package works fine but remember that it is unmaintained so security bugs are left unfixed. After installing the package the computer should not be used for sensitive or personal data.

    The new Flash package included in Chrome which requires a 64 bit operative system as described in original post is updated automatically. Also Flash included in restricted-extras is updated.

    An additional problem is that 'older than SSE2' indicates that the processor is... old. If it's an AMD Athlon XP (from 2000-2004) it is likely to be accompanied by Nvidia Geforce 2 graphics which A) is slow compared to today's standards and B) needs special settings as described in the post above.


    B) Old as in 'limited RAM'
    If you have less than 512 MiB of memory then running a full GUI while installing could be too much workload, so the alternate and / or minimal ISO are worth trying. Another option is the 9w installer, but be aware that more manual steps are involved than when using the standard Lubuntu, and a beginner would probably find the process complicated.

    People's taste and patience are different but in general the speed of such a system will suffer. Web surfing will be limited to the lightest web sites, for example.
    Last edited by mrgs; June 3rd, 2017 at 08:44 AM. Reason: Pale moon added
    Bringing old hardware back to life. About problems due to upgrading.
    Please visit Quick Links -> Unanswered Posts
    Don't use this space for a list of your hardware. It only creates false hits in the search engines.

  3. #3
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    Lubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark

    Performance tuning

    Until now we have focused on getting a light and fast (that is, lightning fast) operative system by selecting the most efficient software to install. After the install is completed it's worth the while to test the system to see if some parameters should be adjusted in order to further speed up things. Don't jump to conclusions and begin tweaking the system before you know A) where the bottleneck is for your particular combination of hard- and software and B) if there's anything to do about it.

    Many good workload monitors are available. My favourite is Gkrellm which can easily be configured to show various factors relevant to performance. Give it a corner of the screen and keep an eye on it during different kinds of tasks.


    Look and feel
    One could think that changing look and feel is only a matter of the colour theme but it's more than that. Various themes put various workload on the hardware, and changing as described in the section above (step 4) is worth trying.


    Slow boot
    Though Lubuntu is considered a fast operative system the boot itself is sometimes slow. The message waiting for network configuration or waiting up to 60 more seconds for network configuration may or may not display during boot while the system is sitting inactive.

    The problem is often easy to solve. The file /etc/network/interfaces contains the following:
    Code:
    # This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
    # and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).
    
    # The loopback network interface
    auto lo
    iface lo inet loopback
    
    # The primary network interface
    auto eth0
    iface eth0 inet dhcp
    Open an editor with root privileges with the command
    Code:
    sudo leafpad /etc/network/interfaces
    and add a # in front of the two last lines (if present). Save the file and reboot. Is booting faster now?

    The command
    Code:
    more /var/log/dmesg
    shows in detail what goes on during boot. The number in [ ] at the beginning of each line is the time stamp so when there's a big difference in the number something is taking a long time. One can view the entire log screen for screen using the command above or use
    Code:
    awk -F'[][] *' '$2-ts>0.3{printf "%s\n%s\n---\n",l,$0}{ts=$2;l=$0}' /var/log/dmesg
    which shows only the records in the log file where there's a delay longer than 0.3 seconds. Thanks to schragge for the command.


    Closed source / 'restricted' / 'additional' graphics drivers
    By default Buntu installs open source graphics drivers which have improved a lot over the years. They are broadly speaking in such a good shape that many users don't have to worry about drivers at all.

    However, if graphics-intensive applications like Google Maps are slow then changing to closed source drivers is sometimes the only option. AMD is going all-in developing efficient open source drivers but for Nvidia it might help to change the driver.

    The safe approach is opening the software updater from the menu and see if anything is offered here. The new drivers are activated after a reboot. Installing drivers which are not listed in the dialog box could be possible but it's a risky approach.

    Closed source drivers are often better at handling non-standard screen resolutions but they might give problems when upgrading to the next Buntu release. Regarding the latter, always do a fresh install and stay away from upgrades.

    This section is only relevant if you have too much hard disk activity.

    Swappiness
    The swappiness setting determines when a system begins swapping data to the hard disk. A low value makes more use of memory and less use of the swap partition.

    As memory storage is many times faster than hard disk storage this is what we want.

    The default setting is 60, which makes swapping begin early. Lowering to, say 10 sometimes makes a significant improvement in speed, dependent on the hard disk type and workload.

    To test it (for the present session only, permanent settings are unchanged) one simply does the following:


    1. Copy the command
      Code:
      cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness
      to the terminal and press Enter. You will now see the present value of swappiness.
    2. Spend some minutes browsing Ubuntuforums or another web site. Notice the speed (or lack thereof).
    3. After that run the command
      Code:
      sudo sysctl vm.swappiness=10
    4. Continue browsing. Do you now have a faster system with less hard disk activity?


    If one wants to make the setting permanent the line vm.swappiness = 10 has to be added to /etc/sysctl.conf. It's done with the command
    Code:
    sudo sed -i '$ a\vm.swappiness = 10' /etc/sysctl.conf
    The new setting is activated in next boot. In effect it moves workload from a slow, rotating hard drive to the memory modules, which are faster than a solid state drive, and it could be referred to as the poor man's SSD.


    Zram
    is another module which can speed up a system by lowering the swap activity on the hard disk. The command
    Code:
    cat /proc/swaps
    lists the swap areas in use; for a standard Lubuntu installation the results could look more or less like
    Code:
    Filename    Type        Size     Used   Priority
    /dev/sda5   partition   1045500  1764   -1
    which indicates that only a hard disk partition is active. After executing
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install zram-config
    and a reboot the command now displays
    Code:
    Filename    Type        Size     Used   Priority
    /dev/sda5   partition   1045500  1764   -1
    /dev/zram0  partition   512136   0      5
    indicating that a new swap area with higher priority (that is, will be used first) has been added. The sizes shown will differ according to the hardware on which zram runs.

    It's recommended to experiment with swappiness and zram alone and in combination. On some computers it gives a significant boost, on some there's only a minimal change.



    Are the applications slow to open but run well once opened?

    If so then preload is worth trying. It installs with
    Code:
    sudo apt-get install preload
    and after a reboot it begins learning which applications are opened most often. Then it loads programs into vacant memory making them readily available to the user.

    One drawback is that preload might drain the battery faster than normal.

    Try and see if you get an improvement. If not it can easily be uninstalled.
    Last edited by mrgs; December 27th, 2016 at 09:30 AM. Reason: Added look and feel as a means for speeding up Lubuntu.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Reykjavk, sland
    Beans
    12,449
    Distro
    Lubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark

    Before posting

    A) I have a question
    If the posts above do not solve your problem feel free to post here. Remember to state everything you know about the computer.

    If you have the option please run
    Code:
    sudo lshw -sanitize > lshw.txt
    and post lshw.txt in CODE tags. Can be done in a live boot using any version of Buntu.

    An example of the output is shown at the bottom of the post.


    B) I would like to provide an answer
    Many users in Ubuntuforums have experience in old hardware and are eager to help. Thanks, that’s what keeps the forum running. However, a few guidelines should be observed before posting:

    • Please don’t provide an answer based only upon searching the web. We are happy for contributions but a lot of dubious advice exists and quoting it does not help anyone. Please only post if you have hands-on experience with something close to the hardware and software in question.
    • Don’t take for granted that there is a solution and don't give the person asking a false hope. Not every old computer can be brought into usable condition, so sorry, you have to recycle this dinosaur might be the only sensible answer. If you never post this regardless of the hardware in question you are probably too lenient.
    • Corrections to the posts are welcome.



    Code:
    computer
        description: Desktop Computer
        product: OptiPlex 745 ()
        vendor: Dell Inc.
        serial: [REMOVED]
        width: 64 bits
        capabilities: smbios-2.3 dmi-2.3 vsyscall32
        configuration: administrator_password=enabled boot=normal chassis=desktop power-on_password=enabled uuid=[REMOVED]
      *-core
           description: Motherboard
           product: 0MM599
           vendor: Dell Inc.
           physical id: 0
           serial: [REMOVED]
         *-firmware
              description: BIOS
              vendor: Dell Inc.
              physical id: 0
              version: 2.6.6
              date: 06/26/2011
              size: 64KiB
              capacity: 960KiB
              capabilities: pci pnp apm upgrade shadowing cdboot bootselect edd int13floppytoshiba int5printscreen int9keyboard int14serial int17printer acpi usb ls120boot biosbootspecification netboot
         *-cpu
              description: CPU
              product: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 CPU          6400  @ 2.13GHz
              vendor: Intel Corp.
              physical id: 400
              bus info: cpu@0
              slot: Microprocessor
              size: 2133MHz
              width: 64 bits
              clock: 1066MHz
              capabilities: x86-64 fpu fpu_exception wp vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts nopl aperfmperf pni dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm lahf_lm dtherm tpr_shadow
              configuration: cores=2 enabledcores=2 threads=2
            *-cache:0
                 description: L1 cache
                 physical id: 700
                 size: 32KiB
                 capacity: 32KiB
                 capabilities: internal write-back data
            *-cache:1
                 description: L2 cache
                 physical id: 701
                 size: 2MiB
                 capacity: 2MiB
                 capabilities: internal varies unified
         *-memory
              description: System Memory
              physical id: 1000
              slot: System board or motherboard
              size: 2GiB
            *-bank:0
                 description: DIMM DDR Synchronous 667 MHz (1,5 ns)
                 product: M3 78T2953EZ3-CE6
                 vendor: Samsung
                 physical id: 0
                 serial: [REMOVED]
                 slot: DIMM_1
                 size: 1GiB
                 width: 64 bits
                 clock: 667MHz (1.5ns)
            *-bank:1
                 description: DIMM DDR Synchronous 667 MHz (1,5 ns) [empty]
                 vendor: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
                 physical id: 1
                 serial: [REMOVED]
                 slot: DIMM_3
                 width: 64 bits
                 clock: 667MHz (1.5ns)
            *-bank:2
                 description: DIMM DDR Synchronous 667 MHz (1,5 ns)
                 product: M3 78T2953EZ3-CE6
                 vendor: Samsung
                 physical id: 2
                 serial: [REMOVED]
                 slot: DIMM_2
                 size: 1GiB
                 width: 64 bits
                 clock: 667MHz (1.5ns)
            *-bank:3
                 description: DIMM DDR Synchronous 667 MHz (1,5 ns) [empty]
                 vendor: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
                 physical id: 3
                 serial: [REMOVED]
                 slot: DIMM_4
                 width: 64 bits
                 clock: 667MHz (1.5ns)
         *-pci
              description: Host bridge
              product: 82Q963/Q965 Memory Controller Hub
              vendor: Intel Corporation
              physical id: 100
              bus info: pci@0000:00:00.0
              version: 02
              width: 32 bits
              clock: 33MHz
            *-pci:0
                 description: PCI bridge
                 product: 82Q963/Q965 PCI Express Root Port
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:01.0
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: pci pm msi pciexpress normal_decode bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=pcieport
                 resources: irq:40 ioport:d000(size=4096) memory:fe900000-feafffff ioport:d0000000(size=268435456)
               *-display:0
                    description: VGA compatible controller
                    product: RV516 [Radeon X1300/X1550 Series]
                    vendor: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI]
                    physical id: 0
                    bus info: pci@0000:01:00.0
                    version: 00
                    width: 64 bits
                    clock: 33MHz
                    capabilities: pm pciexpress msi vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
                    configuration: driver=radeon latency=0
                    resources: irq:16 memory:d0000000-dfffffff memory:fe9e0000-fe9effff ioport:dc00(size=256) memory:fea00000-fea1ffff
               *-display:1 UNCLAIMED
                    description: Display controller
                    product: RV516 [Radeon X1300/X1550 Series] (Secondary)
                    vendor: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI]
                    physical id: 0.1
                    bus info: pci@0000:01:00.1
                    version: 00
                    width: 64 bits
                    clock: 33MHz
                    capabilities: pm pciexpress bus_master cap_list
                    configuration: latency=0
                    resources: memory:fe9f0000-fe9fffff
            *-usb:0
                 description: USB controller
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1a
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1a.0
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: uhci bus_master
                 configuration: driver=uhci_hcd latency=0
                 resources: irq:16 ioport:ff20(size=32)
            *-usb:1
                 description: USB controller
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #5
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1a.1
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1a.1
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: uhci bus_master
                 configuration: driver=uhci_hcd latency=0
                 resources: irq:17 ioport:ff00(size=32)
            *-usb:2
                 description: USB controller
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #2
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1a.7
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1a.7
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: pm debug ehci bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=ehci-pci latency=0
                 resources: irq:22 memory:febfbc00-febfbfff
            *-multimedia
                 description: Audio device
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1b
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1b.0
                 version: 02
                 width: 64 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: pm msi pciexpress bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=snd_hda_intel latency=0
                 resources: irq:43 memory:febfc000-febfffff
            *-pci:1
                 description: PCI bridge
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 1
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1c
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1c.0
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: pci pciexpress msi pm normal_decode bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=pcieport
                 resources: irq:41 ioport:1000(size=4096) memory:fe800000-fe8fffff ioport:f0000000(size=2097152)
            *-pci:2
                 description: PCI bridge
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 5
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1c.4
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1c.4
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: pci pciexpress msi pm normal_decode bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=pcieport
                 resources: irq:42 ioport:3000(size=4096) memory:fe700000-fe7fffff ioport:f0200000(size=2097152)
               *-network
                    description: Ethernet interface
                    product: NetXtreme BCM5754 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express
                    vendor: Broadcom Corporation
                    physical id: 0
                    bus info: pci@0000:03:00.0
                    logical name: eth0
                    version: 02
                    serial: [REMOVED]
                    size: 1Gbit/s
                    capacity: 1Gbit/s
                    width: 64 bits
                    clock: 33MHz
                    capabilities: pm vpd msi pciexpress bus_master cap_list ethernet physical tp 10bt 10bt-fd 100bt 100bt-fd 1000bt 1000bt-fd autonegotiation
                    configuration: autonegotiation=on broadcast=yes driver=tg3 driverversion=3.132 duplex=full firmware=5754-v3.15 ip=[REMOVED] latency=0 link=yes multicast=yes port=twisted pair speed=1Gbit/s
                    resources: irq:44 memory:fe7f0000-fe7fffff
            *-usb:3
                 description: USB controller
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1d
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1d.0
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: uhci bus_master
                 configuration: driver=uhci_hcd latency=0
                 resources: irq:23 ioport:ff80(size=32)
            *-usb:4
                 description: USB controller
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1d.1
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1d.1
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: uhci bus_master
                 configuration: driver=uhci_hcd latency=0
                 resources: irq:17 ioport:ff60(size=32)
            *-usb:5
                 description: USB controller
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1d.2
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1d.2
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: uhci bus_master
                 configuration: driver=uhci_hcd latency=0
                 resources: irq:18 ioport:ff40(size=32)
            *-usb:6
                 description: USB controller
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #1
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1d.7
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1d.7
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: pm debug ehci bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=ehci-pci latency=0
                 resources: irq:23 memory:ff980800-ff980bff
            *-pci:3
                 description: PCI bridge
                 product: 82801 PCI Bridge
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1e
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1e.0
                 version: f2
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: pci subtractive_decode bus_master cap_list
            *-isa
                 description: ISA bridge
                 product: 82801HB/HR (ICH8/R) LPC Interface Controller
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1f
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1f.0
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 capabilities: isa bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=lpc_ich latency=0
                 resources: irq:0
            *-ide:0
                 description: IDE interface
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) 4 port SATA Controller [IDE mode]
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1f.2
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1f.2
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 66MHz
                 capabilities: ide pm bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=ata_piix latency=0
                 resources: irq:20 ioport:fe00(size=8) ioport:fe10(size=4) ioport:fe20(size=8) ioport:fe30(size=4) ioport:fec0(size=16) ioport:ecc0(size=16)
            *-serial UNCLAIMED
                 description: SMBus
                 product: 82801H (ICH8 Family) SMBus Controller
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1f.3
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1f.3
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 33MHz
                 configuration: latency=0
                 resources: memory:febfbb00-febfbbff ioport:ece0(size=32)
            *-ide:1
                 description: IDE interface
                 product: 82801HR/HO/HH (ICH8R/DO/DH) 2 port SATA Controller [IDE mode]
                 vendor: Intel Corporation
                 physical id: 1f.5
                 bus info: pci@0000:00:1f.5
                 version: 02
                 width: 32 bits
                 clock: 66MHz
                 capabilities: ide pm bus_master cap_list
                 configuration: driver=ata_piix latency=0
                 resources: irq:20 ioport:fe40(size=8) ioport:fe50(size=4) ioport:fe60(size=8) ioport:fe70(size=4) ioport:fed0(size=16) ioport:ecd0(size=16)
         *-scsi:0
              physical id: 1
              logical name: scsi0
              capabilities: emulated
            *-disk
                 description: ATA Disk
                 product: WDC WD800JD-75MS
                 vendor: Western Digital
                 physical id: 0.0.0
                 bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0
                 logical name: /dev/sda
                 version: 10.0
                 serial: [REMOVED]
                 size: 74GiB (80GB)
                 capabilities: partitioned partitioned:dos
                 configuration: ansiversion=5 sectorsize=512 signature=00000b01
               *-volume:0
                    description: EXT4 volume
                    vendor: Linux
                    physical id: 1
                    bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,1
                    logical name: /dev/sda1
                    logical name: /
                    version: 1.0
                    serial: [REMOVED]
                    size: 72GiB
                    capacity: 72GiB
                    capabilities: primary bootable journaled extended_attributes large_files huge_files dir_nlink extents ext4 ext2 initialized
                    configuration: created=2013-10-14 21:23:38 filesystem=ext4 lastmountpoint=/ modified=2014-06-16 17:27:40 mount.fstype=ext4 mount.options=rw,relatime,errors=remount-ro,data=ordered mounted=2014-06-16 17:27:40 state=mounted
               *-volume:1
                    description: Extended partition
                    physical id: 2
                    bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,2
                    logical name: /dev/sda2
                    size: 2044MiB
                    capacity: 2044MiB
                    capabilities: primary extended partitioned partitioned:extended
                  *-logicalvolume
                       description: Linux swap / Solaris partition
                       physical id: 5
                       logical name: /dev/sda5
                       capacity: 2044MiB
                       capabilities: nofs
         *-scsi:1
              physical id: 2
              logical name: scsi1
              capabilities: emulated
            *-cdrom
                 description: DVD reader
                 product: CDRWDVD TS-H493A
                 vendor: TSSTcorp
                 physical id: 0.0.0
                 bus info: scsi@1:0.0.0
                 logical name: /dev/cdrom
                 logical name: /dev/sr0
                 version: D200
                 capabilities: removable audio cd-r cd-rw dvd
                 configuration: ansiversion=5 status=nodisc
    Last edited by mrgs; June 17th, 2014 at 12:58 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Beans
    5

    pls tell me which OS is more suitable for my pc

    hi there,
    I hope you could help me. i've a very old Pc . it comes with pentium(R) 4 cpu 1.8Ghz and 1.79Ghz,1.96 Gb of Ram . it also have 80 Gb of hard disc.

    i've try installing the latest ubuntu 12.1 but it is very slow.. I use it for my clinic daily record patients detail and some video that i play for my client.


    pls advice

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    UK Lake District
    Beans
    3,092
    Distro
    Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus

    Re: pls tell me which OS is more suitable for my pc

    Try xubuntu
    It should be much better
    Ubuntu Member Always something different. Promoting Ubuntu and System 76 at TUXPC

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    UK
    Beans
    617

    Re: pls tell me which OS is more suitable for my pc

    yes try xubuntu, should be just right.

    if you want something faster than that though, you could use lubuntu.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Western Australia
    Beans
    11,480
    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: pls tell me which OS is more suitable for my pc

    If you're using Ubuntu in a business setting, you should be using an LTS version - Ubuntu 12.04 is the most recent LTS version, and it runs better on old hardware than 12.10.

    Ubuntu 12.10 requires good 3D graphics support, but 12.04 can work with 2D graphics if your system isn't powerful enough for the 3D. If you try to use 12.10 on a computer with bad 3D support or an old graphics card, it will be horribly slow.

    Xubuntu or Lubuntu would also work (even 12.10), but I'm unsure about how long Xubuntu and Lubuntu 12.04 are supported for. It might just be 18 months.
    I try to treat the cause, not the symptom. I avoid the terminal in instructions, unless it's easier or necessary. My instructions will work within the Ubuntu system, instead of breaking or subverting it. Those are the three guarantees to the helpee.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Maine
    Beans
    2,011
    Distro
    Ubuntu Mate 17.10 Artful Aardvark

    Re: pls tell me which OS is more suitable for my pc

    Try LXLE it's Lubuntu long term support.
    you can get a copy here.
    Wireless script
    Dave
    Registered Linux User #462608
    Morse Code an early Digital Mode.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    /dev/root
    Beans
    Hidden!

    Re: pls tell me which OS is more suitable for my pc

    I suggest that you download Xubuntu 12.04.2 LTS which has long time support until April 2015.
    http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/xubuntu/re....04.2/release/

    The current Lubuntu versions have only 18 months support.

    Edit: Maybe I should explain why Xubuntu 12.04.2 LTS.

    - enough RAM
    - a business application, so official LTS (long time support) is preferred.
    Last edited by sudodus; March 30th, 2013 at 12:17 PM.

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