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Thread: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

  1. #1
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    can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    I choose 1991, because it's the birth year of the Linux kernel.

    What if I find in an antique shop old computer hardware from the 1991, hardware like monitors, PS/2 keyboards and mouse, printers, etc, still in working order, would this hardware still work on modern Linux systems?

  2. #2
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    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel


  3. #3
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    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    The big question will be RAM memory. Some old motherboards will not support bigger RAM modules. But without a GUI you can go a long way.

  4. #4
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    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    The big issue is browsing the internet. Even with the lightest of browsers I find much less than a 2mhz cpu and 3GB of RAM to be painfully slow. And it's not the browsers themselves that are to blame. Web content is simply much heavier than anything encountered in the dial-up days. I do however have a few Dell Latitude 2110's (1.6mhz + 2GB RAM) running and they'll even stream videos fairly well with a decent internet connection but opening most web pages is downright painful because I'm used to things moving faster than the blink of an eye.

    But I'd almost bet Puppy or AntiX would run on that prehistoric stuff. It just wouldn't be a truly enjoyable experience beyond having a historic chuckle. OTOH a lot of the higher end Intel C2D 10 to 12 year old stuff is now dirt cheap so you can come up with something fairly decent for well under $40. I just snagged a Latitude E6400 for $27 and all it needed was cleaning and a WLAN card which can be had for under $5 (but I have spare parts anyway). I also have spare power adapters and the battery was pooped but if need be a new battery and power adapter can be had for under $20.

  5. #5
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    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    For sure old monitors should work as well as PS2 interface keyboards and mice. I have doubts about old printers but I have an old legal size HP scanner that's got to be 18 years old and it still works, although it makes more noise than a 50 year old track loader that's badly in need of a lube job

  6. #6
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    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    Actually, support for 386 processors was dropped sometime back:
    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pa...tem&px=MTI0OTg
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  7. #7
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    Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    only 486 at best. not even sure if the version do have latest kernel.
    DSL works on 486, but has old kernel.

    maybe Tiny core
    An absolute minimum of RAM is 46mb. TC won't boot with anything less, no matter how many terabytes of swap you have.
    Microcore runs with 28mb of ram.
    The minimum cpu is i486DX (486 with a math processor).

    A recommended configuration:
    Pentium 2 or better, 128mb of ram + some swap
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  8. #8
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    Lubuntu Development Release

    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    Modern 32bit requires 586/686 kernels I thought.

    "However, Debian GNU/Linux jessie will not run on 486 or earlier processors. Despite the architecture name "i386", support for actual 80386 and 80486 processors (and their clones) was dropped with the Sarge (r3.1) and Squeeze (r6.0) releases of Debian, respectively. The Intel Pentium and clones, including those without an FPU (Floating-Point Unit or math coprocessor), are supported."
    https://www.debian.org/releases/jess...h02s01.html.en

    Closer to home

    "However, Ubuntu bionic will not run on 586 (Pentium) or earlier processors. Support for i586 and lower processors, as well as for i686 processors without the cmov instruction, was dropped in Ubuntu 10.10. Most i686 and later processors are still supported. The Intel Quark is not supported, due to hardware errata."
    https://help.ubuntu.com/lts/installa...6/ch02s01.html

  9. #9
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    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    I'd say it'd depend on the distro.

    Surely some of the commercial distro's would have legacy support for older CPU's and RAM.
    Proudly ubuntu since '05
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  10. #10
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    Lubuntu

    Re: can hardware from 1991 still work on today's Linux kernel

    Old mice (PS/2/serial) and keyboards (ps/2, 5/6 pin) and VGA monitors are working without any problems.
    Scanners depend on their driver support. If they are still supported by sane, they work.
    Motherboard are a problem because their amount of RAM. Additional, you need a non-PAE kernel.

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