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  1. #1

    Making a TV Computer

    So I've recently acquired an old laptop which I'm trying to set up as a TV computer. The previous owner was about to throw it out since it wasn't able to handle windows anymore. I've always felt it's better to try to make use of old hardware, especially if it still works. I've tried a number of lightweight Linux distros with it but nothing has really worked too well yet, and I'm looking for some feedback from people more knowledgeable. I'm pretty new to the world of Linux but I've got most of the basics down.

    System Specs:
    CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.66Ghz
    RAM: 449mb
    HD: 54gb

    What I want to do with it is watch videos on sites like Youtube and Netflix, as well as sending and receiving email via Gmail. The computer is about 10 years old, so it's possible the hardware may be the problem, but I'm not sure. If the hardware is the problem there's probably not much I can do since it's an old HP laptop and it looks like everything is integrated.

    I've got DSL (Damn Small Linux) running on it now and it's good and fast, but I can't find a browser for DSL that can handle Youtube and other sites that require Flash. If any of you have more experience with DSL and know of such a browser, let me know and I'll give it a try. I've also tried Lubuntu, but it runs too slowly, and so does Puppy Linux. I've also tried Crunchbang, and it's not as slow as Lununtu or Puppy, but it is still slow, and if there's a better option, I want to try it.

    If I can get this computer to do what I want with reasonable speed, it'd be great because I won't need to bog down my main computer with those tasks anymore. Plus I prefer to make use of old hardware rather than just throw it out, especially if it still works. Anyway, let me know if you have any ideas I could try. Also, if you need more information about the computer, let me know and I'll see if I can find it.

  2. #2
    See if you can get AntiX to boot on that old HP. I have resurrected a trashed Emachine that I use in my motorcycle shop as a wireless media center and plain old beater.

    It will fit on a cd and has flash and iceweasel/firefox working out of the box and will run OK on your ram. Your processor should be OK with flash 11.2.
    Any older and you would have problems with flash and have to run youtube-viewer which also comes in AntiX

    antiX-Linux - Browse /Final/antiX-13.1 at

    DSL libraries are outdated for installing and running flash. You should have went with Tinycore Linux instead if you used the outdated DS Linux Link.
    Tiny Core Linux, Micro Core Linux, 12MB Linux GUI Desktop, Live, Frugal, Extendable

    I heard from this forum that DSL development has resumed but I don't know the link for the new and improved DSL ISO download.
    Slitaz is another option for that old HP beater also but if you look at my icon. I be a biased linux using biker.
    I refuse to let fear and fear of others rule my life. It puts my humanity at risk.
    Accepting Death is the only way to stay alive.

  3. #3
    Also, I see you said you tried Puppy on it also.

    I sold my celeron eeepc 701sd and 900 which were 800 mhz cpu with 512 MB ram with Slack0 5.6 installed and used flashplayer 10.3 as the youtube player on those installs. I did a full install instead of frugal though and they were pretty speedy. Not slow like you experienced at all.

    Maybe the ssd drives made it snappier. I don't know. I do know if you pick frugal with your ram specs and try and open a modern firefox browser and run youtube, all while running puppy in ram also.
    Somethings gotta give.
    I refuse to let fear and fear of others rule my life. It puts my humanity at risk.
    Accepting Death is the only way to stay alive.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Thanks for the ideas! I'll give them a try and see how it works.

  6. #5
    Linux Newbie slw210's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    South Central Florida
    What model of Laptop?

    What graphics card?

    Try updating the BIOS.

    Never seen an old computer that didn't fly with Puppy installed.

    My old Laptop is a Compaq 700 AMD Duron ~900MHz with 768 MB RAM and it ran Puppy, Xubuntu, OpenSuse just fine and now has Point Linux installed.

    You should see if you can still get some RAM for it and other upgrades.

  7. #6
    It's an HP laptop. I don't have the original manuals or documentation for it.

    Here's what I know from running system queries:
    CPU: Intel Pentium4 CPU 2.66Ghz
    Model: 2
    Cache Size: 512 KB
    cpu mhz: 2658.154
    cpumode: 32-bit
    Architecture: i686
    Vendorid: GeniuineIntel

    I've seen it run Youtube at ~20 fps in Crunchbang. The problem is it's not consistent. Crunchbang seems to slow down at times. Puppy didn't slow down at all, but the framerate I was getting in Youtube was around ~5. I know Youtube normally runs at ~30 fps and I'm just trying to get as close to that as possible. Upgrading is out, because my theory is that this system should be capable of doing what I want to do without spending any extra money on it. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm not going to give up trying yet. Besides, why buy a $30 ram upgrade for the system when I could just go out and buy a set-top box that basically does what I want this computer to do? I'm going to keep working with this. I still haven't got around to trying AntiX, I've been getting distracted with tweaking Crunchbang to try to eliminate the frequent slowdown. Not sure if I can, but if I can, it'd be the quickest solution.

  8. #7
    Just an update: I've tried AntiX and it runs Youtube faster than Crunchbang, but it also seems somewhat less stable. It seems to freeze up more frequently than Crunchbang but otherwise seems faster. I'll have to experiment more with system settings to see if I can fix the freezing, but for now I have them both on the system via a dual boot configuration so I can switch between them and compare. I'll let you know how it goes.

  9. #8
    I refuse to let fear and fear of others rule my life. It puts my humanity at risk.
    Accepting Death is the only way to stay alive.

  10. #9
    So I've been using AntiX for about a week now. Initially I had some issues with it but after upgrading Flash and making a few config tweaks I'm happy to report the system is very stable now and I am getting fps of ~29 in Youtube. Since Youtube maxes out at 30fps, I can't really ask for more. In fact, its much faster than Crunchbang was, and I seem to be able to run Netflix and DVD's just as well too. It even handles file transfers through my LAN better than Crunchbang does, as long as I don't forget to run Connectshares first. So AntiX was the answer I was looking for.

    Thanks, rokytnji!

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