The PII 350 MHz Computer Dies?!

I always hate to send hardware off to that big chipyard in the sky. However, the PII 350 MHz PC decided to give up on me. Perhaps that is why I was getting so many errors while attempting to install various distros of Linux (including those optimized for old PCs). So, for those of you that were following along with my little journey, the PII is no more…too many errors began to pop up even in steady Slackware. I made a judgement call and retired the motherboard.

In its place, I forked out 23 bucks for a PC Chips Socket A motherboard. I then slapped in a spare XP 2600 and I have the newest flavor of SimplyMEPIS and PCLinuxOS installed. It’s running like a champ and is turning out to be the best 23 bucks I’ve spent in some time. For those that want a steady board for Linux, check Newegg here.

Alas, the PII was a good board. I knew it well. So glad I didn’t have to put it down and that I could gracefully retire it on a good note. Now the slowest PC I have is the CentOS 4 gateway/firewall with a Celeron 900 (Emachines w/ a refurb Gateway mATX mobo). Works great. Sorry I couldn’t finish out all those other distros.

In the meantime, I’ve made it my mission to document some really simple things using KDE and Gnome (How-Tos) for stuff that you’d normally do in Windows. I’m attempting to track down the easiest way to setup an anonymous share using KDE and Samba (with no smb.conf or smbpasswd or smbuser alteration…no shell). Thus far this has proved quite challenging. Getting Samba to play nice without passwords and users with full write access on a share is murder. If anyone has tips or links to a great how-to, I’m all ears. Thanks for reading.

More 350 MHz Mayhem

Based on some recommendations from those commenting to my previous entry…I will attempt a few more distros on my old PII 350 MHz PC…using the XFCE Desktop of course. I’ll attempt to get the latest and greatest XFCE up and running.

Those that I’ve received feedback on are:

 

 

  1. STX Linux
  2. DSL – Damn Small Linux
  3. Puppy Linux
  4. Kanotix
  5. Zenwalk
  6. Debian Unstable (for XFCE cutting edge)
  7. Wolvix
  8. PCLinuxOS – Second attempt after remaster (because it is my favorite :) )

So, I’ll give those a go during the next week or two and we’ll see how they stack up. I’m looking forward to STX since it is slackware based and has many features (thanks for pointing it out srlinuxx!!). Check it out in a review at Tuxmachines.org.

I’m also looking forward to Kanotix because I’ve heard good things about this distro. We’ll see where everything stacks up in a few weeks. Stay tuned. And if anyone has any more suggestions for distros to try, let me know…I’m all for trying out even more…I normally am testing something out and testing Linux on a PII 350 is challenging and fun.

Keep in mind that I’ll be attempting to get XFCE (my choice of minimalistic desktop…if I can’t have XFCE, the distro isn’t worth it for me) on each distro. If anyone would like to assist me with the distros listed above with pointers for XFCE, drop a line in the forum on this thread. Thanks for your help!

The 350 Mhz XFCE Linux Desktop Search

I’ve had troubles as of late in my household. I had a motherboard go bad that was powering my Media Center PC. This PC is the center of the entire family entertainment with 30 GB of music, 50 GB of movies, and the ability to watch live TV. That immediately ceased when the BIOS chip failed on the mobo. I had to send in for a replacement. In the meantime, I’ve had to shift all of my computers around to compromise for this loss. This means that I lost my normal Linux (PCLinuxOS .92) computer (an old Celeron 900 Emachines). I now have the old PII 350 MHz. While I know it likes Slackware and Vector Linux the most…I have to try other distros out on it just to see what happens. After all, even Windows XP can install and run on this computer…so I’d like to see how some of the better Linux desktops will run on it. To give a quick rundown, here are the specs:

  • ATI Rage Pro Video Card
  • 512MB PC133 Crucial
  • PII MMX 350 MHz
  • Samsung 32X CDROM
  • Western Digital 20 GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive
  • Linksys 10/100 Network Card
  • Sound Blaster 16

Even if my hand is forced in this round with the inclusion of such an old desktop system, I don’t mind. Let’s see how some of the big distros work using this PII 350 MHz shall we? I’m going to attempt to get a good desktop based distro running with an XFCE desktop. If a distro ships with Gnome, I can handle that as well…KDE won’t do though since it will run very slow on this PC.

PCLinuxOS

Unfortunately, this didn’t want to boot. It got stuck on searching for the loop image during bootup. I tried pumping down resolutions and not probing practically anything but it just wouldn’t boot. Every single boot option in my arsenal came up nil. I didn’t think this would work for me, but I just figured I’d give it a try. I know PCLinuxOS is cutting edge normally with the best Intel and AMD processors…but I just figured that I might be able to run it with XFCE powering the desktop. So, it seems that PCLOS is good for newer computers but not what the doctor ordered for older computers. Darn, I really wanted this one to work. Next up, SuSe 10.0…

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New Linux with an Old Laptop: Fedora Core 4


Guest Editor Apostasy has decided to take a look at current distributions and how they perform and install on an older laptop. This article is the first in a series of many that will look at distributions such as Suse 10, Fedora Core 5, Mandriva, and other desktop-centric distributions.


The Hardware

  • Compaq Armada E500 Laptop
  • 700MHz Intel Pentium III
  • 256MB PC133 SDRAM
  • ATi Rage Mobility
  • Intel Ethernet Pro 100
  • Toshiba 10GB Hard Disk
  • Netgear WG511 Wireless PCMCIA Card

Installation

I chose to use a network install via HTTP. This went quite smoothly, initially via a text interface for configuring the network and entering the address to install from, then a graphical interface for partitioning and package selection. Right from the start Fedora looks like a professional O/S, it’s not fluffy and cute, but it is very pleasant to look at. Partitioning was handled automatically by Disk Druid, no problems at this stage.

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Slackware 10.2 + 350Mhz PII = Bliss

Slackware 10.2 came out a few days ago and I’ve recently decided to dust off a Pentium II 350 with 524MB PC100 RAM to see how things work with it. All I can say is WOW! I have resurrected this old computer to a new life. Slackware was where I started and I can assure you it will be a staple of my Linux diet for years to come. Despite the age of the computer and the slower processor, things are blindingly fast. I’m going to slim it down a bit more and tweak the boot process to speed it up even more.

Slackware 10.2 more than stacks up to my expectations…having not installed slackware since version 9, I was very impressed. XFCE 4.2.2 and KDE 3.4 are just a few of the nice things that come with Slack. My XFCE desktop was decidedly fast…much faster than any other distro that has run on my ancient PII desktop. That in itself is amazing. So amazing in fact that I immediately set out to document as many tips and tricks as I can for all of us slackers :P

So, I’ve written a nice How-To for installing the 2.6.13 kernel that didn’t come installed by default with 10.2 (Patrick instead opting for the proven 2.4 tree with 2.4.31). I dropped the how-to into the forum in case anyone had questions…since the forum would provide for a much more organized and dynamic way for people to pose questions. You must be registered to post questions (see links at top of the blog). So, if you’re interested in having Slackware 10.2 with a 2.6 branch kernel ( 2.6.13 ) then check it out!

Thanks for reading