GNU/Linux on old hardware

Saturday, 13 August 2005, michuk

Is Linux a good choice for your old PC? In this article I’m going to examine the main issues connected with using GNU/Linux on some very old hardware. I will also cover choosing a distro, a desktop and the key applications for such a configuration.

Damn Small Linux in action

Pic 1. Damn Small Linux in action

Author: Borys Musielak

What are the minimal hardware requirements for Linux?

In theory, a computer with 386 processor and some 8MB of RAM is good enough to run GNU/Linux. There are a few specialized distros (still supported!) that allow you to install Linux on such a PC. Of course you won’t be able to run most of the modern apps on such a system, but it should be enough to do simple office tasks and play some old-school games.
If you have a Pentium I with some 32/64MB RAM, you can, with just a little bit of effort, make an outstanding desktop computer out of it, running GNU/Linux of course. You will still need a special distro for that, though.
However, if you get a Pentium II 455Mhz with a 10GB hard drive (it can be purchased for less than $50 nowadays), you can install any modern GNU/Linux distribution on it and with thoughtful selection of applications, it can make a great home Internet and multimedia center for next couple of years.

Which distro for an old box?

The simple answer is: almost any. Most of the popular Linux distros (like Debian, PLD, Slackware or Fedora Core and such) provide a dialog-based, not resource consuming installer, and the option to select applications to be installed on the system beforehand. Still, before installing, it is recommended to check the minimal hardware requirements for a distribution of choice. Some systems, like Yoper, Arch Linux or Crux, are 686-optimized, which means they will only run on a Pentium II processor or higher.

There are however distros created especially for old hardware PCs. Here ia a few most interesting ones:

  • Damn Small Linux – a very popular low-resource Linux, based on Debian and Knoppix. Runs on a 486 in a graphical mode,
  • DeLi Linux – this is a real pearl. DeLi stands for “Desktop Light” Linux. It is capable of running on a 386 computer in a graphical mode! Lately, version 0.7 has been released. Certainly worth trying on some very old PCs.
  • Zenwalk – minimal requirements for Zenwalk are: Pentium III, 128 Mb RAM and 2Gb HDD. However, it can be run pretty fine on PII, as well. Zenwalk is a modern Linux distro for low-resource PC-s.

DeLi Linux works even on 386
Pic 2. DeLi Linux works on 386!

With DSL and Zenwalk, you can either use a live CD or install them as full-featured systems on your hard drive. Both ways, you get a fast and reliable system working great even on a very old PC. Some more distros you may be interested in are: Puppy Linux, SaxenOS (STX Linux) or Wolvix. More information about those distros (including hardware requirements) can be found on projects’ webpages.

Don’t install ancient distributions!

One of the myths about installing GNU/Linux on older hardware is that one should rather choose old versions of popular distributions (like Redhat 7, Debian Potato or Slackware 7), because older apps work better with older hardware. This is truth with most propriety OS-es, but certainly not with GNU/Linux. Every respectable Linux distro provides at least one lightweight window manager and a set of apps which should work just fine on an old box. Installing an old version of OS is bad for couple of reasons:

  • You usually don’t get any security patches because the maintainers stopped supporting their old versions years ago.
  • You are unlikely to find help easily, just because everyone uses the latest stuff.
  • Latest versions of Linux apps usually work faster than their ancestors. This is true at least in case of these projects which aim at providing lightweight and usable apps – and these are exactly the apps you’re going to use to get your job done on an old PC!

Concluding, choose a distribution which you know best (or your best friend knows and uses) and install a set of lightweight desktop apps on it, one for each task. You will find more information about the apps suitable for such PC below.

Which desktop and applications are suitable for an old PC?

Well, it depends on how much latency you can live with. To some, the latest KDE running on a Pentium II 400Mhz with 256MB RAM is acceptable. However, for those who place system speed and responsiveness above modern (and sometimes useless) features, there are many alternatives, as well, naming only Fluxbox, XFCE or FVWM-Crystal.

Office apps in Zenwalk

Pic 3. Office apps in Zenwalk

At the beginning I have to warn you – you won’t be able to run package reliably on a system much slower than ~400Mhz and ~128 MB of RAM. If your hardware parameters are inferior, you can use some the the lighter office suites, like KOffice, Gnome Office (Abiword+Gnumeric) or in case of really old hardware (like Pentium I, 32MB RAM) – Siag Office (available in Damn Small Linux).

Web browsing can be a problem, since the most lightweight GUI browsers: Dillo and links-hacked do not handle modern technologies like CSS and DHTML properly. Even JavaScript can be a problem. So, it’s recommended to try some older version of Opera Browser (7.11 is a good choice) or try some lightweight Firefox alternative, like the Gecko-based Epiphany or Galeon first and use Dillo only when there’s absolutely no other way around.

Don’t worry, though. Office and web browsing are the most tricky part of using Linux on old hardware. Below, I prepared a short list of recommended CLI (command line interface) and GUI (graphical) applications which can be used painlessly on an old PC box.

Graphical apps Console (CLI) apps
Desktop environments XFCE, IceWM, Fluxbox, Blackbox, GNUStep (with WindowMaker), FVWM and more
Web browsers Dillo, Links-hacked, Opera (version 7.11), Epiphany, Galeon Links, Elinks, lynx, w3m
Mail clients and news readers Sylpheed-claws, Balsa, mutt, pine, slrn
Office suites KOffice, GnomeOffice (Abiword + Gnumeric), Siag Office LaTeX, MS Office documents converters: catdoc, antiword, xlhtml
Simple text editors Leafpad, Xedit, Nedit, Mousepad, gvim nano, pico, vim
Audio players XMMS, Beep-media-player, gmpd mpc, mp3blaster
Video players MPlayer, Xine MPlayer (does not require X!)
Viewers and editors GQView, feh, Xzgv, Xpaint, Xpdf MPlayer (does not require X!)

If this is not enough, you can take a look at the lightweight applications shipped with Damn Small Linux. For a complate list of GNU/Linux applications (not necesserily lightweight) go to The table of equivalents of Windows software in Linux at

Security – What about the security patches?

Take it easy, nothing to worry about here :) In contrast to some propriety systems (i.e. Microsoft Windows versions 95, 98 and ME are no longer supported and Windows 2000 is likely to follow them soon), in Linux you always have instant access to all security patches no matter how old your hardware is. Most of the popular Linux distributions provide some kind of lightweight desktop environment and a set of apps capable of running even on ancient hardware like Pentium I or so. So, if you update your system frequently (which is painless and fully automatic in distros like Debian and derivatives), there is almost no need to worry about your system’s security – it can just as secure as your friend’s PC, running the most modern and full-featured distro like Xandros or Ubuntu on a hyper-threaded Pentium Dual Core. Really :)


GNU/Linux is a great choice for ancient hardware. It has proved that it can run on almost anything with a processor and a motherboard. Installing Linux may be the only choice for someone who wants to make some use of his old computer for something more than just running the software from the middle ages, so it’s really worth to give it a try before throwing the old PC away.

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fold this thread Que tal rodar Linux com ambiente gráfico em um 386? por Bruno Alves  Wednesday, 20 September 2006 o godz. 3:18 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

[...] Que tal rodar Linux com ambiente gráfico em um 386? Isso mesmo que você leu no título, um artigo no Polish Linux mostra como usar o Linux em um hardware antigo, dando dicas de distribuições e programas que tornarão sua vida mais simples ;) . Claro, não espere rodar um OpenOffice (ele tem fome de recursos), mas um pacote um pouco menos cheio de recursos pode salvar aquela máquina velha, encostada no fundo do armário. 0 Comentário(s) Link [...]

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fold this thread guzu  Thursday, 21 September 2006 o godz. 8:39 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

some other options are the derivatives of slackware, debian, redhat/fedora (i’ve used vector linux 3.x, 4.x on 486)and you can always build your linux from scratch :) (like Linux From Scratch (LFS))but not only
and i remember that somewhere i’ve seen even “desktop” environments console-based! (maybe in linux magazine?)

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fold this thread vishal01  Saturday, 3 July 2010 o godz. 9:15 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

MySpace account, and then open the page where he desires to upload the background. The MySpace backgrounds will come with simple codes.
Serve Technology

fold this thread ShakaZ  Thursday, 21 September 2006 o godz. 5:12 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1

Nice summary but i would have expected Vector Linux to be mentionned too…

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fold this thread michuk  Thursday, 21 September 2006 o godz. 5:42 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I thought about mentioning Vector but it defaults to KDE so I guess it’s not perfectly suitable for very old machines – that’s why it has been omitted.

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fold this thread Ajay  Thursday, 21 September 2006 o godz. 8:28 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Puppy linux us another good distro for old hardware

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fold this thread airjrdn  Thursday, 21 September 2006 o godz. 10:50 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Don’t forget about

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fold this thread Bill  Thursday, 21 September 2006 o godz. 10:59 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1

vector Standard edition does not have KDE, it uses XFCE, previous versions had icewm and fluxbox preinstalled, now you can add them with a couple of clicks from the repo.

Too bad you didn´t mention it, since it´s been around for a rather long time and is much more mature than some other light distros around.

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fold this thread brjoon1021  Thursday, 21 September 2006 o godz. 11:09 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1

Thanks for the article. I bookmarked it.
I have some points to make-
Unless you hate Microsoft for Philosophical or Religious reasons, consider XP. I ran Windows XP Pro on a Pentium Pro 233 with 192 megs of RAM, a old 16 bit Nvidia PCI video card and a 16 gig SCSI drive for three years ending last year. I never found a Linux that felt anything better than half as fast on that box. I am not a big fan of running Linux on an old computer. Buy XP Home if you can afford it. Set it for “performance” (turns off a bunch of GUI garbage and speeds it up a lot!) under advanced settings in “My Computer”,and read some of the tips about turning off extra services (google for “Xp Services”) at Computer user sites on the web. For security, buy a cheap modem or turn on the Windows firewall, use “sandboxie” (a lightweight security app. that is free and covers LOTS of bases), do not surg porn, and use Firefox for your browser and you will be faster, more compliant than most Linux options.
Incidentally, I do use and like Linux a lot on my fast computer, but it either is slow or ugly and extremely stripped of features on an older computer (much of the time)- but I have a solution for that below.
…Before anyone raises hell… I was running
vector Linux, and Libranet 2.8.1 – both touted as FAST at the time. Neither were nearly as fast as XP on that P Pro. I can not imagine using Dillo, Galeon or the other browsers mentioned. If you do not use ANY streaming video, audio, Flash, etc… on the web, go ahead. but will be stepping back in time about 8-10 years on the internet if you use those browsers. Maybe older Opera would be OK. You are probably better off trying a modern Linux distro like PCLinuxOS (a really great distro), using its KDE based apps. Konqueror is actually a good multimedia browser and when running within KDE it is not too bad on older hardware. I never noticed that much good using Window Managers or XFCE. The speed gain is not that great. KDE and browsing with Konqueror is not much heavier than a skimpy window manager with FF or Opera. It will probably be more compatible with the web, too. Anyway, my two cents have been given and it is: use a good modern distro that uses KDE and try to stick to its KDE apps, or use XP and tune it. And buy as much RAM as you can afford under 256 is kind of tough. Try to get to 384 or 512 if you can. Actually, do all of the above, Download PCLinuxOS and try it as a Live CD if your old computer will run it. If it will, install it and dual boot with XP.

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fold this thread michuk  Thursday, 21 September 2006 o godz. 11:24 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

brjoon1021: We’re talking about running extremely old computers here. 192 MB is a lot of RAM and sure you can run almost any modern OS with this amount of memory. But running XP on a 128MB computer is a pain – a real pain, even a totally stripped version. On the other hand, a lightweight WM like FVWM or Fluxbox does the job pretty well. And the older computer, the more it is true.

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fold this thread Mike  Thursday, 6 December 2007 o godz. 4:24 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I find this and other similar posts rather irrelevant to the issues related to linux on an older pc like the 386. For one thing, most 386 machines were doing great if they had 16mb ram, let alone 32mb. What on earth is the relevance of a modern pentium to an old machine like the 386? There isn’t any that I can see at all. I had several such machines with 32mb ram, along with a cache hdd card with 4mb ram on it, and I’ve installed slackware & freebsd on all of them, as well as windows95. I didn’t have any problems with any of these machines. I even had a version of minix on an old omnibook 300, which was rather interesting as well as fast. Even now I could still pull one of these machines out of my stack and it would blow the doors off the XP machine sitting here in front of me with its over-2-gig cpu and more ram than my old 386′s hard disk. Probably due to the OS-bloat typical in windows, and the fact that the owner (my father) installed everything he could think of for security running in the background. I think the key to performance is in eliminating everything from the kernal you don’t need and making sure your hardware was made to work together, but that is already well known to most ‘nix users anyway. Most windows users barely know how to use what they have, and are too lazy to find out how to optimize their system. Most, I say, but not all. I’d like to see pix of a modern gui running on a 386 machine, along with the specs, such as which 386 cpu variant, speed, amount of ram, etc., as that would be very relevant to anyone wanting to use such an old machine with linux.

fold this thread thebin  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 4:51 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I experimented with a number of lightweight distros (and Windows 98) for some old Pentium II 233s (128 MB RAM, 2 GB harddrives) for building a language lab at a local school. The only place where Windows beat linux in speed was in boot time (barely). I settled on Vector Linux 4.2 and after suitable modifications to lock down the desktop and clean the clutter on log-out, we had a language lab for free. Since then I have installed both Windows and linux on perhaps 4 dozen old machines with the same experience. Based on this, I can’t imagine WinXP coming close to the performance with Vector. But then, with old hardware, your milege may vary.

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fold this thread supriono  Monday, 29 December 2008 o godz. 12:39 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I like to know the application you used for build language lab with vectorlinux. Because of my school only had Pentium III PC.

fold this thread docatomic  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 5:49 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

There is one thing confusing me about running modern Linux distros on older hardware, and that is the lack of any ISA support… how can a modern distro be made to run on ISA-based older hardware, without doing a kernel recompile or something? I know Vector 5.0 is still able to handle ISA, but PCLinuxOS and Linspire do not – those don’t handle anything ISA, at all. How to get around this problem, then? Plus, the other thing I am wondering about – namely, the fact that a lot of older computers that can’t boot from a CDROM drive in the first place… like, an old 486 laptop, for instance. Floppy install?

While I do like the idea of running Linux on such old stuff, I’m having a difficult time envisioning how it could even be done… I think there would be a LOT of work involved, and that it wouldn’t be easy to do it at all. Maybe some of the oldschool Linux gurus could attempt it, but I really doubt that a newbie would have any luck.

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fold this thread maathieu  Friday, 20 February 2009 o godz. 10:01 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

In my time, you would create two floppies (boot/root) which would allow Linux to access the cdrom drive and make the install from there. It used to do wonders!

fold this thread Smith Data Processing Services » Blog Archive » links for 2006-09-22  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 7:18 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

[...] » GNU/Linux on old hardware (tags: linux old hardware) [...]

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fold this thread anonymous  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 12:19 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

> Pic 2. DeLi Linux works on 386

But we can see in the left upper conner:
deli – Linux 2.4.32 on _i686_

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fold this thread michuk  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 1:33 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

But we can see in the left upper conner:
deli – Linux 2.4.32 on _i686_

Have I said that this particular screenshot has been made on a 386 machine?

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fold this thread Dan  Wednesday, 14 October 2009 o godz. 1:46 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

It was certainly implied on the alt text “DeLi Linux on 386.”

fold this thread Mark  Wednesday, 17 February 2010 o godz. 10:21 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

sorry but maybe you can help me
I have a very old Laptop (compaq presario 1200-XL527 pentium aceleron 750Mhz 256mb RAM 10 GB Hard drive, cd rom working fine floppy disc) well one day I just started the laptop and a message appear “missing Operating System” well I tried boot disc and other methods all failed.
Now I want to install Linux (give the computer one last chance of life) can you tell me which one will be best for that old computer, and how to do it since the computer always tell me “missing OS”
any information will be very appreciated

fold this thread Colonel Panic  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 8:29 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

There’s also one called BasicLinux, which runs on 486s
and early Pentiums with very limited resources;

I used it for a couple of years, it’s based on an old version of Slackware and offers a lot of functionality in a very small space (it fits on two floppies).

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fold this thread guzu  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 8:55 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

i’ve installed debian 2.2 on 486 (cyrix) dxd/66 with 8 (eight) mb of ram and worked unexpectedly fast. and, once you have the base installed you can go to internet and apt-get everything you need. but we must remember that for these old gnulinuxes, the updates are harder to find (or impossible, sometimes).
and i must agree to the fact that isa cards no longer work by default on modern distros …

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fold this thread David  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 10:46 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I’ve successfully used Wolvix (a Slax derivative) and Vector Linux SOHO on a P300MHz wireless laptop with 128 MB of RAM.

It loads about the same speed as Windows 2000 which it dual boots with.

Using Firefox works pretty well on both Linux distros.

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fold this thread Eugeni’s blog » Blog Archive » » GNU/Linux on old hardware  Friday, 22 September 2006 o godz. 11:21 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

[...] » GNU/Linux on old hardware [...]

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fold this thread Iain  Saturday, 23 September 2006 o godz. 7:21 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Xubuntu is a good choice for slightly newer machines. It’s just Ubuntu with XFCE instead of Gnome.

“=== Recommended Minimum Requirements ===
To run the Desktop CD at lest 128 megabytes of RAM are required. To use the installed system at least 64 megabytes of RAM is required but 128 is recommended. At least 1.4 gigabytes of disk space is required.”

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fold this thread Iain  Saturday, 23 September 2006 o godz. 7:22 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I forgot to mention two good links for choosing lightweight apps:

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fold this thread Anon  Saturday, 23 September 2006 o godz. 8:09 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Actually, I am using the latest Opera (9.02) on Linux and it’s not slower than 7.11. It also has no open security holes etc…

It runs fine with 64M ram (PII/333MHz; but RAM is the only vector that really counts).

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fold this thread Sven  Saturday, 23 September 2006 o godz. 4:25 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Thanks for “The table of equivalents” – link. I am happy I found Sylpheed and Sylpheed claws. I am using here 5 year-old 1 Ghz Athlon and Thunderbird did not feel too snappy.

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fold this thread sd2006  Saturday, 23 September 2006 o godz. 7:20 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Where is the real danger when you use ancient Linux distros on such very old Computers, provided that all servers have been uninstalled (even ssh) and you surf the internet behind a Linux rooter?
Please, do not talk about security flaws in general.
If possible, name a few concretely and how probable it could be that some “hacker” breaks in.
The reason for this question is that even Vector Linux still sells its very old Vector Linux 1.8 Standard Edition in its shop. They say about it: “Released late 2000 Features the ultra stable 2.2.18 kernel This is an excellent choice for that dusty old 486 sitting in the closet. Has the XFree-3.3.6 gui and full development package. Recommend 16 megs of ram and 175 megs HD space for installation.”
So, is this old Vector distro or any similar Linux distro secure enough?

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fold this thread DrBob  Saturday, 23 September 2006 o godz. 9:45 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1

I have been trying about 15 light distros on a number of old machines and in general my experience is that they just don’t work. 1 in 15 worked on one machine, 3 in 15 for another, 0 of 6 on another, etc. “Don’t work” means they hang while booting (most common problem) or X freezes or the mouse does not work or they cannot find the CD they are running from and abort. Maybe to slim them down they removed drivers for old hardware?

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fold this thread docatomic  Saturday, 23 September 2006 o godz. 10:14 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Precisely. That is why I am doubting the relevance of this article; in time, Linux has moved on – and many distros will simply not run on ‘old’ computers anymore. Like I said previously – what do you do, when the computer isn’t capable of even interfacing with a CDROM drive, much less booting from one? When _all_ you have is a floppy drive – and that’s it; no ISA network card handy, or anything?

Maybe the Hackaday people could pull it off on an old ISA-only 486, with no onboard IDE interface… but I doubt that many others could. Heck; I can’t even get PCLinuxOS to recognise an AWE64 soundcard! And that’s in a P3-1000 based system that’s barely six years old. A *386*, you say? Sure – just find some archaic Slackware sets, and start writing the floppies… you’ll get there – eventually.

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fold this thread Spanky  Sunday, 24 September 2006 o godz. 5:49 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

That’s what I like about (GNU/) Linux. It’s both. It moves right along unlike no other with new hardware AND it’s “dreaded” distributions also have a system for your very old hardware too. Quite the great feat too.

At what point is hardware worthless? That’s kinda up to the user.

Replace them if you can; if not, these distributions keep old hardware earning it’s keep. Don’t buy any new hardware without eliminating the known Linux hostle chip-set manufacturers. Buy what works. Google helps.

One thing’s for sure, what ever Linux we make, it should leave no benefit (of Windows 95) behind. New benefits are great and many, but leave no true benefit behind. Trash the many cons, of course. Why? Because with all it’s buggy problems, Windows 95 is the old (desktop) software to beat(in it’s goodness, not it’s hell.) It looks like we have some progress in this area.

I have an laptop (486) WITH 8MB RAM and 200MB HD running 95! Deli Linux wouldn’t fit. In fairness, Deli may have done more than 95 but it just didn’t fit. One needs 400MB for the “ALL” install and piece meal didn’t work. As with many people, I just can’t bring myself to buy an upgrade (RAM or HD) that costs more than the whole system on ebay.

These light Linux distros are cool.

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fold this thread thevillagegeek  Sunday, 24 September 2006 o godz. 6:08 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I installed Xubuntu (alternate installer) on two old PII class machines with 64 mb of RAM and 6-10 gb hard drives. It ran reasonably well, but with lots of swap space being used. After upgrading to 128 mb, it ran smoothly on both. Other than a change of network card or sound card (glad I kept those!) there were no real issues. I tried Puppy 2 and DSL, but they had issues with one device or another, so I just went with the Xubuntu. I’ve used DSL many times successfully and highly recommend it.

For those touting the speed of XP, get real. We’re not talking about custom installations here, and keep the typical Windows apps in mind. XP faster to boot than Linux? If, by boot, you mean display a desktop with background, then maybe. Actually getting to use the computer after all the processes and services start is another story. The Windows machine will get worse over time, too, unless maintained. Most Linux distros I’ve used over the last three years let you use the GUI as soon as the desktop background fully loads, even if that took longer than Windows.

BTW, I believe that the Linux cafe in Toronto uses old PII laptops as thin clients using Ubuntu for loaner laptops. Most people there use Ubuntu, OSX or XP on their own portables, from what I have seen.

FYI, I’m using Ubuntu on a bare bones Acer Aspire 3620 notebook that I got for about 700 Cdn with memory upgrade and taxes included. That’s the model that some online Linux stores sell, and a popular one with students. It works good. It’s nice to see retailers selling systems without Windows pre-installed.

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fold this thread Interesting Articles [30-09-2006] « disconnected  Saturday, 30 September 2006 o godz. 12:07 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

[...] 3. Το για την χρήση Linux σε σχετικά παλιά μηχανήματα έχει αρκετές καλές ιδέες για να μην πετάξετε τα παλιά σας μηχανάκια. GNU/Linux on old hardware [...]

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fold this thread Scattershot  Wednesday, 11 October 2006 o godz. 7:38 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

While working to rejuvenate some old library laptops, Pentium II 233 MHz with 96 MB RAM, I first attempted Xubuntu as it is quite possibly my favorite distribution right now. It worked, though the load times and sluggish application response were not enough to make a good argument for using.

After playing around with various distros, I settled on modifying the SLAX Popcorn edition image and using that, which loads quickly enough and runs smoothly enough for convincing general use.

I call it SimpleSlax, and the iso can be downloaded here for playing around with and possible rejuvenation use.

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fold this thread Greg MacKenzie  Tuesday, 21 November 2006 o godz. 3:47 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I don’t know. I’ve been this route looking for a modern system that would be compatible with my older laptop. I gave Puppy a whirl on my laptop, an IBM 380 XD 233mhz Pentium II with mmx and 96 mb of ram. After getting into it and reading the notes I soon discovered that it can’t print to a printer. Making desktop shortcuts is a chore. In short, I began to wonder why should I replace my Windows 98SE OS when it does everything that I want it to do? Linux does not run with the capability of Windows 98SE. In particular support of external hardware such as printers, cameras, etc. is an issue with Linux. I can’t even get my Lexmark printer to connnect using Ubuntu on another machine I have. Until those sorts of issues are solved I just won’t switch. Call me a curmudgeon, but my little old laptop does everything I need it to do as it is. Old as 98SE is, plug and play USB works. Don’t get me wrong either, I was “amazed” that puppy was even able to boot up and be a workable desktop its just that to get serious with Linux I need more capability. Greg

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fold this thread Greg  Wednesday, 7 May 2008 o godz. 3:55 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I’ve now switched almost entirely to Puppy Linux for 95% of everything I do on my old laptop, Puppy 3.01 as of this writing. Its a perfect small dristro for me, and the retro kernel version runs great on my old IBM380XD.

My suggestion is that if you want to use linux to print find a supported printer first and go with that. Anything else is just junk. Puppy has a great wizard for setting up a printer, and wizards for other setup functions.

I’ve been able to successfully set up and configure almost all my hardware in Puppy. Simply amazing.


fold this thread Greg MacKenzie  Thursday, 23 November 2006 o godz. 5:03 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1


Correction to my last post since I don’t want to needlessly malign Puppy. I’ve discovered that you can get Puppy to print via CUPS if you can install a Linux PPD driver for your printer. In my case the Lexmark X2330 all-in-one appears not to be supported for Linux which means I’m out of luck on that one.


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fold this thread michuk  Friday, 24 November 2006 o godz. 12:37 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

@Greg MacKenzie: It’s really a good idea to double-check your hardware before purchasing. Just try to ignore the Linux-unfriendly manufacturers — they will hopefully realize sooner or later that ignoring Linux is not good for their business…

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fold this thread John  Saturday, 30 December 2006 o godz. 10:19 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Brilliant article Borys!

Another distro to consider for old machines is Fluxbuntu it’s Ubuntu with Fluxbox and lots of low spec tweeks.

All these Distros have an important role to play in the reduction of pollution. Every machine that lands up in a landfill is responsible for leaking toxic materials into the water system. Below is a list of substances found in modern computers:

Lead, Arsenic, Selenium, Polybrominated flame retardant, Antimony trioxide, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt and Mercury.

UN warning on e-waste ‘mountain’


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fold this thread Wishing it worked  Friday, 30 March 2007 o godz. 9:23 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I really really really wish there was a linux that installed as easily and ran as well on a P130 32m ram as some of the older pirate distros of W98SE (look for windows99 on big torrent sites) or even regular w98se, then fix with “98lite”. D^&^N M$.. it just works.. With the “Unofficial Cumulative upgrade pack”, its up to date..
Now I find that M$ released something called WINDOWS XP LEGACY, a stripped down version of XP for school use.. uses a p300-500, 128 M ram.

I really really really wish I could take that stack of p133′s in the attic, with 32m ram and 1-2G hard drives and turn them into something usefully linux-y .. But its too hard and I stick with bootleg W99 installs. Even the DOS No$GBH runs nicer than small linuxes running gameboy emulation for retro gaming..

The hunt continues

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fold this thread jeff  Friday, 6 April 2007 o godz. 5:39 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Slackware should not be overlooked. I was able to select what was needed, compile some nice CLI programs from source. (CRIPPLE command-line ripper/encoder for example). Most of the GUI items
listed on this page. Custom kernel for my hardware. Once done, I
removed the compiler and libs. Really nice GUI system under 450MB.
All this on an original Pent 90Mhz. BTW I would kill for an attic full of 133′s, distributed computing is a great use for “obsolete” HW.

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fold this thread Mike Blais  Thursday, 12 April 2007 o godz. 5:07 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I have a IBM 380XD which is a Pentium II thinkpad notebook, with 266 Mhz pentium II CPU 64 MB of memory, I try to upgrade it to 96 MB but the IBM 380XD doesn’t see the 64 MB DIMM from my IBM 390E thinkpad. The only problem I seen so far after installing CentOS V4.4 is that:
It works well, even though sometime she slow.
My video card is supported in 800×600.
My D-Link network card is supported.
My CD-ROM drive is supported.
My Floppy drive is supported.
800×600 look good.
doesn’t support my build in sound card.
doesn’t support my ZyBAS wifi 802.11 usb card.
I got Opera and OpenOffice running ok on this notebook.

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fold this thread Lithoin  Friday, 4 May 2007 o godz. 9:28 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

People, I think the BSDs should not be overlooked… I mean, check NetBSD on this very site… I got it running in 8mb RAM easily, without much tuning, I am a newbie there… Or FreeBSD for that matter… 6.2 requires 24 MB RAM for text-mode – used to be 16 MB. I really believe a p133 with 32 MB RAM is a GREAT machine and shouldn’t go to waste. ;)

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fold this thread dallas  Monday, 7 May 2007 o godz. 8:04 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

in Linux you always have instant access to all security patches no matter how old your hardware is

Comments like this are completely untrue and harm this community. I’ve never seen a situation where security patches fix something with respect to hardware, so I’m miffed to wonder what the connection is.

Most of the popular Linux distributions provide some kind of lightweight desktop environment and a set of apps capable of running even on ancient hardware like Pentium I or so. So, if you update your system frequently (which is painless and fully automatic in distros like Debian and derivatives)

It’s not painless and rarely fully-automatic. Paid distro’s like redhat and suse enterprise fare a lot better but this articles target market courts neither. I’m not naieve enough to eat my own dogma, we’re not an infalliable system and we needn’t sprout the idea that we are.

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fold this thread michuk  Monday, 7 May 2007 o godz. 8:26 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  --1

Comments like this are completely untrue and harm this community. I’ve never seen a situation where security patches fix something with respect to hardware, so I’m miffed to wonder what the connection is.

All I’m saying is that even if you have old hardware you still can run Linux securely (have access to security patches) since there are multiple distros capable of running on such hardware that are still supported. Contrary to the MS Windows world.

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fold this thread Lithoin  Tuesday, 22 May 2007 o godz. 8:33 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

People, you forgot the VLC-media-player. This is a lightweight media player which both me a friend of mine have used to get computers to play DVDs with only 64 MB RAM!

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fold this thread » Ten Reasons To Dump Windows [II]  Saturday, 4 August 2007 o godz. 2:36 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

[...] case of some earlier editions. You can find more information about Linux and old PCs in the article GNU/Linux on old hardware on our [...]

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fold this thread Ronaldo  Thursday, 4 October 2007 o godz. 2:32 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I`m using damn small linux on a Duron 800MHz with 128Mb RAM live on CD. VERY GOOOOOOOOOD! I`m listening songs from my hardware (Windows NTFS partition) and surfing on web! I`m going to install on a Pentium II 233MHz 64Mb RAM, I`m hopeful with that…


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fold this thread Interesting Articles [30-09-2006] « cyberviewer  Monday, 29 October 2007 o godz. 12:49 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

[...] 3. Το για την χρήση Linux σε σχετικά παλιά μηχανήματα έχει αρκετές καλές ιδέες για να μην πετάξετε τα παλιά σας μηχανάκια. GNU/Linux on old hardware [...]

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fold this thread Matthew Force  Tuesday, 25 December 2007 o godz. 3:46 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I’m running a Pentium III 450MHz, 394Mb RAM (I know, a lot, I just got my hands on 256Mb for £3!), 40Gb HD, 6Gb HD, and an old Nvidia GeForce 4 PCI card.

Not exactly terrible in terms of spec, my old faithful struggled with a default XP install. After using nLite ( to clear out the crap, it runs drastically faster.

That said, I have been using Slackware 10.2 for about a month now (I have a dual boot), and I must say, while I can’t get SW to connect to the internet (wireless Netgear adapter), and I can’t get it to print, it runs SO much faster! Even when playing games through wine, it’s STILL faster than windows. I’m shocked…

Just downloaded Ubuntu. Doesn’t boot using the live CD. Going to try Xubuntu instead. Wish me luck!

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fold this thread » Blog Archive » Eski Bilgisayarıdan Yararlanmanın 10 Yolu  Monday, 24 March 2008 o godz. 11:53 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

[...] Elektrik tasarrufu için kötü olabilir ama misafir geldiğin de falan açabilirsiniz. Bunun için şunlardan birini yükleseniz [...]

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fold this thread toppy  Friday, 30 May 2008 o godz. 8:13 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

Just stick with the lightweight programs and it will even work with 64mb very old pc’s
some ideas..
nedit text editor
ted word processor
mrxvt tabbed terminal
xplorer (C++X)file manager
opera browser runs lighter than firefox and still very complete
dillo browser very light but does not do flash at all and such.
flash is a killer for slow pc’s anyways

And dont use xfce on very old pc’s, it is heavy. gtk2 is always slow stay away from it as much as you can for old hardware. use fluxbox or icewm they are fast.


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fold this thread Mis Aventuras en el País de los Pingüinos Parte 2 « El Vortex Tecnológico  Monday, 1 December 2008 o godz. 6:16 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0
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fold this thread Pedro  Tuesday, 20 October 2009 o godz. 9:56 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I did run FreeBSD in my old Pentium 100Mhz with 64mb ram with windowmaker in 2006, not “super-fast”, but nice.

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fold this thread Lowest Specs requirement from a Linux - Page 2 - Open Source & Linux  Tuesday, 23 February 2010 o godz. 1:53 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

[...] Re: Lowest Specs requirement from a Linux The smallest Linux computer is this picotux – smallest Linux computer in the World Jokes apart this article might help you choose the right distro >> GNU/Linux on old hardware [...]

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fold this thread kiroshimasylvia  Saturday, 3 July 2010 o godz. 7:31 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I think that you need to check and see, my understanding is that flood insurance is available. One of the problems that the public may encounter is an agent that has not been to flood insurance education to sell it. That might have alot to do with it.. I think he said the other day that 33% of the claims for flood, were not in the flood plain. But, most people will not buy due to paying another premium….
Useable Technology

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fold this thread LowSpecBox: distros para hardware antigo (1) « Debian Dicas  Tuesday, 2 November 2010 o godz. 12:40 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

[...] GNU/Linux on old hardware [...]

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programs for android…

[...] » GNU/Linux on old hardware[...]…

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