Installing Linux on an old PC

Dennis Faas's picture

Thinking about throwing out that old PC because it can't run the latest version of MS Windows? Hold your horses!

In the last few newsletters, there has been much talk about upgrading an old Pentium-1 computer -- which paths to take, and why an upgrade may not be the best route.

Recently, I received an email from an Infopackets Reader, Stu W., which mentioned a great alternative to upgrading an old PC. He writes:

" I would personally NOT upgrade the hardware [of an old PC]. Instead, I would upgrade the operating system (OS) to something like Peanut Linux, Small Linux or even Corel Linux. These distributions will make an old Pentium 'sing a new song.' There are several small downloadable versions of the Linux OS that are geared at older and ailing Pentium/486/386 class of computers. "

Here are some quick links:

I particularly found the last link useful, as it compares major differences between many of the Linux distributions. While quickly flipping through the site, I stumbled upon the Peanut Linux that Stu W. was referring to. The statement about how this particular OS was geared toward Windows users really grabbed my attention:

" Do you want an alternative to your existing OS? With Peanut Linux you only have to download 85 Mb. How's that! Just 85 Mb of data contain this already pre-software configured OS with a spectacular GUI and the most versatile operating system available today!. (It's especially made for people new to Linux). This is the most POWERFUL and FUN distribution yet! We aim to please all users, experts and newbies alike who have already installed Windows 9x or Win NT 2000 with a full installation. And of course Peanut Linux is jam packed with the newest LINUX software available today. The entire system when installed is less than 299 Mb and this makes it the most convenient, fastest, operable and appealing LINUX distribution... you decide! " (review) (screenshots) (download) (free games)

Sounds pretty fair to me. Best of all, it's free!

One thing worth mentioning is that Linux is quite different from Windows. So, be prepared to learn something new. One of the other pluses about Linux is its stability: there really is nothing like it. Microsoft Windows will probably never be as stable as Linux is, simply because Linux is Open Source -- it is freely distributable, modifiable, and constantly being improved. Besides that, it has been around longer (since the 1960's).

Is it possible to use Windows and Linux on the same machine?

Absolutely. A few weeks ago, John A. wrote in to tell me of a web site that shows you how to add more than one operating system to your machine:

" Here is a site that would advise the user interested in loading Windows with Linux. It's a great info site for Linux newcomers. "

So there you have it: breath life back into that old machine!

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