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I certainly believe that old gear shouldn't be thrown away. So when a client of mine wanted to dump a Presario 4505 desktop (PI 166MHz, 16MB on-board RAM, 2.1 GB ...
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- 01-18-2009 #1
Bring old gear back to life with DSL
I certainly believe that old gear shouldn't be thrown away. So when a client of mine wanted to dump a Presario 4505 desktop (PI 166MHz, 16MB on-board RAM, 2.1 GB HD) on me free-of-charge, I decided to see if I could use it as a small web/email server.
This is my first post here, and while not a total linux n00b (I used Solaris UNIX in college and have had Mint on my laptop for 6 mos and have used Puppy Live CD for a year for disaster recovery in my tech business), I don't consider myself a fluent Linux user by any means. However, the live CD distro Damn Small Linux (DSL) 4.4 made this project a (relative) breeze. Perhaps my experience can help you...
I was able to boot the DSL Live CD, but it dogged a bit. After maxing out the RAM with 32MB PC66 for $7 on eBay, I tried again, and this time there was much better performance, but a slow startup and apps started slowly. It detected a random old ethernet card I threw in it and I was surfing immediately. I decided that a hard drive install would do me some good so I set off...
DSL doesn't come packaged with GParted (which I like), so I booted Puppy 4.12 Live CD and dealt with the HORRENDOUS lag in order to partition a swap space on this old WIN95 machine (I tried to use SystemRescueCD 1.0, but this Old Bird wouldn't load it). Since I only have 48MB RAM, I chose to have 128MB swap space to ease the use of larger apps.
Partitions in hand, I rebooted DSL and using the handy right-click fluxbox menu, chose a hard drive install. After a few short scripts, DSL indicated it had installed and ended, without offering to configure a grub or lilo bootloader. Needless to say, attempts to boot the machine without the live CD were unsuccessful. Another attempt using the DSL menu hard drive install also failed.
After a little research (ie. RTFM) I found that typing 'install' at the DSL live CD boot prompt began a non-GUI installation script. I was asked only which partition I was to install to, and DSL auto configured my swap space and after some quick choices (lilo or grub, single vs multi-user), I had a fully functional desktop capable of surfing, email, word processing/spreadsheets, and music. (note: In my research, I also read that some users had problems as DSL didn't allow installation to sda1, but I had no problem at all using sda1 as my target.)
[The only deficiency I see is that when dillo or firefox is in the foreground, my graphics revert to 256 colors. Mayhap my 1MB of on-board video just isn't enough? Perhaps $15 on eBay for an 8MB graphics card is in the cards...]
I plugged in an external USB hard drive enclosure housing a 130GB drive. DSL recognized it perfectly, and now I have space to host my own website with 100+GB of email storage. I'm off to install XAMPP and I will have a server with only a 75 watt power supply.
Not bad for a system with more ISA ports than PCI, and for $7-$22 invested?!? All I can say is - Thankx Damn Small Linux!!!
Last edited by deBebbler; 01-18-2009 at 11:05 PM. Reason: Clarity
- 01-18-2009 #2
- Join Date
- May 2004
- arch linux
Welcome to the forums!
Glad that worked out well for you.
For anyone that might be interested, here's a poll with additional distros that often work well on older computer hardware:
- 01-20-2009 #3
At my school is a server (now Ubuntu 8.10) which had to be replaced because Windows 2003 Server didn't support the RAID, some of you have seen my post, but I found out through google after 24hours of research(interrupted) that when I went for the alternate CD, it would work with Ubuntu (8.04/8.10, only had the 8.10 version available at that time, not going for reinstall to 8.04, is a bit useless I think. I'll wait for 9.10 as LTS).
What took the IT guys weeks to get Windows running without proper use of the RAID, I got working in under 2 days(24 hours of research, 70 mins of actually installing and 3 hours of configuring). That server is like a jet engine and behind it was a pile of dust, and well, behind that a trainee. That was while I booted the server for the first time in a couple of years(can you imagine what happened?).
- 01-20-2009 #4
- 01-20-2009 #5
No, the trainee had just vacuum cleaned, so I thought he would have had that spot, but unfortunately for him, he missed it. Now he won't forget that spot again. (I'm 6 yrs old by the way, playing privileged to be there every once in a while).
- 01-23-2009 #6
- 01-26-2009 #7
- Join Date
- Dec 2008
Using old computers is near and dear to my heart also. I run my internal web server on a p2-450. I also like ltsp and drbl/clonezilla for using p1/2 computers as diskless thin clients. Our ltsp server is a 800mhz amd Duron. I will admit my internet desktop is an amd 1.5 athlon. I wanted a bit more speed there. My main laptop is a p1-166 running debian. I have not bought a brand new computer in probably close to five to ten years. I did just buy a used turion64 laptop for the better half though. I had some old new world g3's running linux, but I gave those away. I just wanted to support only one architecture and the better half wanted me to have fewer toys. You could get p3 boxes for free before the slump.