Old PC Kicking Around? Install Linux!

Rob Williams

Staff member
From our front-page news:
If you purchase a pre-built machine today, or build your own, you can remain confident that it's going to run any of the mainstream operating systems available today. But there's also likely many of you who have old machines hanging around that you can't stand to get rid of, and it's understandable. It could be memories, or simply the fact that you love having an old machine still running to brag about.

But the question now is, what can you do with the ancient box to make it somewhat useful? If it's really old, you might not even be able to run Windows XP. If you are in such a predicament, and want an up-to-date OS, a Computerworld blog post points out that Linux is the way to go, but there are of course limits. If you are running an old machine with a lack of RAM and processor frequency, you might have to ignore fancier distros, such as Ubuntu and SUSE.

Other distros exist specifically for old hardware though, and some that aren't might even run well. For the ancient of all ancient PCs (think <200MHz, <64MB of RAM) there's Damn Small Linux, which is about as barebones as you can get, but is highly optimized for old hardware. The author of the article talks about running SUSE 10.3 on his 266MHz/512MB box though, which is rather impressive. So it's good to know that you don't have to throw out that old box yet, and in some cases, you don't have to suffer with a command-line-based OS either!


What about older PCs though? Linux works great on them. The oldest working server I have is one of the ones I used in 1999 to prove, for the first time, that Linux was a better file server than Windows NT. It's a white-box with a 266MHz Pentium II and 64MBs of memory. These days it's running openSUSE 10.3. My least-powerful Linux desktop I'm currently using is HP Pavilion 7855 PC. It was born in 2001 with a 1GHz Pentium III and 512MBs of RAM. These days I run Mint 6 on this old vet of a PC. Frankly, that's a little too much operating system for it.

Source: Computerworld


I did. Installed the latest ubuntu to a system I had given up on, and wow is it running nice now. I'm very pleased. Thank you for the idea, Rob. :D