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Linux, Unix, and *nix like Operating Systems Forum

Old 486 - Possible Linux Playground?

 4:46 pm on Mar 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Got an old 486DX2 66 (66 mHz) sitting in a corner collecting dust.
It has 12 megs of memory, and struggles with win95. I would like to jump into checking out linux (for the first time), with a GUI install.

Would this machine be worth playing with, or more of a headache? If worth trying, which install should I choose for such a weak machine?



 4:51 pm on Mar 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

You could do it as a shell/text only, but I think you'd really struggle trying run X (gui) on it.

I've got an old 486-33 laptop with 8meg and 80meg hd that runs linux/dos just fine (no gui).


 4:58 pm on Mar 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

Check out this link [thelinuxproject.com]. A case study by a guy in a similar situation. I was looking into doing the same thing :).


 5:10 pm on Mar 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

GUI is highly over-rated (; Getting totally into the command line is a wonderful learning experience. Its like going in the p00l the first time without floaties!


 5:52 pm on Mar 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

It is entirely possible to have a gui, you just have to pick the right apps and interface. You wouldn't want to use KDE or Gnome. Check out the RULE project [freesoftware.fsf.org].
Light weight apps I would recommend.
Browser: Dillo
File Manager: Emelfm
Text Editor: Nedit
Window Manager: BlackBox, FluxBox, or ICEwm
ICQ: CenterICQ (term based)
Email: Sylpheed


 5:55 pm on Mar 13, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'd second LM's app recommendations with the proviso that when it comes to window mamagers it *has* to be fluxbox.


 9:59 pm on Mar 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Talking about painfulness, I used to run Linux on my old 486dx4-75 notebook with only 8mb of RAM back in '97. But I am not just running plain GUI + a few applications. Since I use the notebook as a demo box of one of my web-based applications, with 8mb of RAM I used to run X11 with no window manager, Netscape Navigator, Apache and Perl CGI's. I started the X11 with Netscape taking up the whole screen so it does not use a window manager. Well, that's slow...

That was the early Linux 2.0 days, and maybe you should try to use some older/not-so-bloated applications/distributions. I think with kernel 2.4 and glibc 2.2, it can be quite hard to get the system booted with 12mb of RAM.


 8:40 pm on Mar 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Another good resource for getting X on an old machine is SmallLinux [superant.com].

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