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Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

Vernon Cole
Occasional Contributor

Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

I have a number of old machines which were retired from a computer lab. Specs are: AMD P133, 32Mb RAM (max!), SVGA video, about 1GB of disk. I have been planning to reuse them either as Internet NAT routers or as kiosk machines running a web browser so that employees can check e-mail and such in the break rooms. They have sufficient power to do what I want, but I have tried without success to actually install Linux on them. It seems that the install scripts require too much computer. I have tried a recent Mandrake, and an older (pre-SCO) Caldera.
Is there a Linux distribution which will work okay on limited hardware?
Which GUI desktop should I choose?
------------
Vernon
Old??? My first home computer was a PDP-11/45!
10 REPLIES
Mark Grant
Honored Contributor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

Ahhh the beauty of Slackware. Your RAM is marginal but it should at least install.

However there are distributions designed for exactly what you are after.

Have a look at Tiny Linux

http://tinylinux.sourceforge.net/
Never preceed any demonstration with anything more predictive than "watch this"
Paul Cross_1
Respected Contributor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

You will likely get many responses here because there are (of course) many ways to do it. I would just use a linux distro contemporary with your hardware (redhat 6.2, suse 6, etc.).
Claudio Cilloni
Honored Contributor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

I don't know so much about distributions, but I think that Redhat 7.3 could be good for you. I'm using it on a 486DX4-100MHz with 48MB RAM, it isn't fast, but works well. Choose a light window manager, like mwm, twm, windowmaker or xfce. Opera, as browser, is enough fast. Mozilla... mmmmh... maybe too heavy.

Ciao
Claudio
Steven E. Protter
Exalted Contributor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

I would say Red Hat 7.3, very stable, its got a built in router configuration with iptables.

You will have to work hard to keep the sendmail daemon secure though.

This is out of support, but the release served me very well for a long time.

Don't go back further, becasue iptables is something you need on a good router/firewall.

SEP
Steven E Protter
Owner of ISN Corporation
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Olivier Drouin
Trusted Contributor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

If you dont need X I dont see why would not use a recent distro.
Penguin_1
Occasional Visitor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

cole,

why dont you try to use a customised redhat linux installation with the min no of services.. it will not take more than 1 GB. if you have a powerful windows 2000/XP system u can enable terminal services and connect from the linux using rdp client. this will not requrie any desktop like KDE / GNOME .. u can just do with xterm on Linux..

thnx
Penguin
Martin P.J. Zinser
Honored Contributor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

Hi Vernon,

for the router part you might consider

Coyote Linux from

http://www.coyotelinux.com/faq/?myfaq=yes&id_cat=2&categories=Coyote+Linux+2.x+-+General

That should fit your HW nicely.

Greetings, Martin

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

My personal flavour is Debian (www.debian.org). If you know which programs you need, just install the required and important packages and then select whatever else you need. Gnome or KDE will be too much for those systems, but the X Window System itself should work, perhaps with fvwm or another small window manager. Blackbox is supposed to be small, too. XFce is a bit like KDE but smaller. Debian install doc lists 12Mb as minimum requirement (without X, I presume) and you definitely will need swap space when running X.

For router purposes there are distributions that are only for routers, and these are the best choice if you don't need the machine to run anything else.
Bill Maginnis
Occasional Advisor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

Vernon,
I've done the same type of research and installed many flavors of small or minimal Linux distros. I've really liked Vector Linux (latest and greatest version is 4.x) It comes with a very nice default window manager and is very light weight.
The main to focus on as far as speed is a light weight window manager: IceWM, FluxBox, and a number of others. You don't need to run KDE or Gnome.
I've also found that older PCs can be repurposed as a firewall box. Look at Smoothwall.org for their Linux firewall distribution. It's very good!

-*-Bill
Marc-Aurele Brothier
Occasional Advisor

Re: Choice of Linux distro for resurrecting old P100 computers?

Hi!

I read this news about a a linux lab with oldIBM 300PLS (200Mhz): http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=7418&mode=&order=0

It's very interesting and I think it can be an idea to run your old computer like that!

/Marco