32
Fast-Nop
37d

So, today for my SO's father who is already over 70 and wants to try Linux. However, he doesn't want Linux on his main PC for now, rather on the old one so that he can take his time to get familiar, which is a reasonable plan.

But holy crap, what a machine! Intel Core2 Duo 4400, 2 GB DDR2(!) RAM, 250 GB IDE(!) HDD, DVD RW drive. Graphics, sound and LAN integrated on the mobo chipset. It's half a miracle that it doesn't run on steam. The machine had been delivered with Vista and has always been painfully slow.

It doesn't even support booting from USB, but I had prepared a DVD just in case. Surprise: it booted from DVD without issues and with full HW support!

Partitioned and installed, deleted Vista in the process (felt good). I went with the full blown Mint 20 Cinnamon edition because XFCE isn't as beautiful. Also, having XFCE now and then Cinnamon looking different on the other PC would be confusing.

Installation took some time, but worked. Cinnamon's RAM usage is at 750 MB idle, and at 1.1 GB with Firefox started. Once the PC is booted, it runs pretty OK with reduced swappiness and noatime on all file systems, plus unnecessary startup applications disabled. Updates took long, but ran through successfully. Installed LibreOffice and some small games, Firefox got uBlock Origin, Youtube worked OOTB.

That PC somehow had escaped disposal several times - and now has a proper OS for the first time in its miserable existence. It runs so much better than it ever has. Just wow, a "big" Linux desktop from 2020 blows a contemporary Vista out of the water on such an old machine!

Comments
  • 13
    I don't know what Stackoverflow's father (Stack Exchange?) has to do with it, and I for sure hope they don't run on that machine. But hey! That's quite a relic you got there :)
  • 4
    Impressed to see that it’s still working but I hope they don’t misattribute slowness and other issues to linux rather than the out of date hardware you have.
  • 4
    I have had the joy of installing Linux on low spec hardware a few times. Most times they just want a newer web browser. It is always interesting to see an owners reaction and surprise that the computer can work as quickly as it does.
  • 2
    @brogrammerology Since he had been using the PC under Vista before, where it was a lot slower, he's actually impressed how usable it is now with Linux. Of course, I also explained that the hardware is very slow and I'm surprised it works at all.

    @irene It's not just the browser, it's also Windows itself. He doesn't trust MS and rightfully thinks that Windows itself is spyware.
  • 4
    @Fast-Nop That sounds like a tinfoil hat thing but it really isn’t that crazy. System plaintext indexes and audio from cortana were going to remote servers when it first started. Maliciousness is unlikely but still it is like hiring someone to paint your house and they take pictures of your valuables on arrival.
  • 0
    @irene Win 10's privacy problems are one of the reasons why I abandoned Windows after Win 7 in the first place.

    Sure, you can muck around with settings, hope that Windows respects them (it sometimes doesn't) and that it will keep them (after updates, it doesn't).
  • 1
    @irene It's just that this takes time, and I don't like spending my time on trying to tame an OS that has been designed as spyware from ground up.

    Instead, I prefer to spend that time on an OS that may have its rough edges, but at least isn't deliberately fucked up.
  • 1
    @irene And lastly, the "tinfoil" argument has been ridicilous (and ignorant at best) ever since Snowden's disclosure. Stuff that used to be "tinfoil" with regards to IT has turned out to be actually true. Using that argument in 2020 is pretty bizarre.
  • 1
    @Fast-Nop Preach it. I don’t like that everything is enabled out of the box so that it works without turning it on. It is a massive design flaw that things can’t ask user permission to be enabled at the time they are used the first time. There is no modularity either.

    Back in XP era I could build my own version of stripped down Windows. I only needed about 5% of the features and the rest are turned on.
  • 2
    Great story, though the fact that the PC's specs don't sound too bad to me (certainly not steam-enginy) made me feel old.

    My first own PC was a Pentium III with, I think, 40GB HDD and probably 512MB RAM. SuSE Linux ran beautifully on it.

    And before that I learnt computing on my uncle's discarded PC: an IBM something, something with MS-DOS. I don't remember the specs, but it had a 20MB HDD (Yes, mega! It ain't a typo.) and a Turbo button. If you don't know what the Turbo button is, I hate you for being so young!

    I'm only 40. That's not too old, is it?

    BTW, my private PC at home is 8 years old already, and it's a true work horse. Two years ago, I replaced the old 2GB RAM module by a newer 4GB one, and it feels like a new PC entirely! The good machine has never had an M$ Windows Virus on it. It came without OS and it has only ever run Ubuntu, Debian and Mint.
  • 3
    @acz0903 Ah the good old turbo button that actually was a "slow down to 8 MHz for games with moronic, uncalibrated delay loops" button. ^^

    My first PC was an Atari ST with 50 MB HDD, followed by a 486.
  • 0
    I actually like Vista on old machines, the only issue nowadays, for some reason the updates are borked and it no longer downloads them. :-(

    My first PC had W95, 8Mb of RAM, can't remember the HD size
  • 1
    @acz0903 I had a PC with 512mb ram and at the time is was pretty useful
    With 2gb I even had the power to run steam with DotA 2 and cs 1.6
  • 1
    My fist "pc" was a Sinclair Spectrum 16K. And yes, that's kilobyte. And I ain't old either!
  • 1
    @Ubbe

    If we are talking that kind of thing, ZX81 here, though I at first wanted a ZX80, by the time I had saved up enough, the 81 was out..

    Later on, what I really wanted was an Atari Abaq..

    Then I got a ZX Spectrum 16k, upgraded the RAM later to 48K.

    Then a long save, when I would have got a QL, if I hadn't been homeless at the time.

    Then I got an Atari ST, several flavours of.

    Before then, entering PC land and Windows..

    Now I've several Rapsberry Pi's to play with too..
  • 1
    @Nanos Funny how similar. A friends zx81 got me started. Bought a 16k Speccy, upgraded it to 48k. Then passed on the QL and got the Atari 520ST. Later a Sinclair Z88 "laptop" before I bought a Pentium II 90 Mhz... Everyone else in my country had the Vic 20-C64-Amiga path. Oh the arguments and dispute at the time!
  • 0
    @Ubbe

    > Vic 20-C64-Amiga path.

    That'll be the rich folk then !
  • 1
    @Ubbe

    What made you decide to pass on the QL ?

    Looking back, I think if I had got a QL before the Atari, that would have been a useful step in giving me time to learn to program the 68000 sooner.
  • 1
    @Nanos I think it was because it was kind of pricey, unavailable and then got a bad reputation pretty soon. Choosing a platform a the time was pretty high stress.
  • 0
    @Ubbe

    What was its bad reputation ?
  • 1
    @Nanos If I remember correctly it was the microdrive mostly. And most importantly that it's sales was disappointing. At the time I was fearful of buying a computer with bad software availability. Happened to many platforms then.
  • 0
    @Ubbe

    Interesting.

    I remember hearing at the time that the QL ones was more reliable than the Spectrum ones.

    Of course, back then, we didn't have wikipedia to look up stuff. :-)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
  • 0
  • 1
    @Ubbe

    I really did like getting an Atari STF with its built in floppy drive, though I did wear it out after a couple of years and needed to replace it.

    One game in particular accessed the floppy all the time..

    I imagine because it was first coded to run an on Apple II and they made no real changes to the code, even though the entire game could be loaded into the Atari's 1Mb RAM memory !

    Sadly the game was well copy protected and you couldn't simply copy it into a RAM disk and play it from there..

    One of my pet hates about games you pay for, being protected that you can't do what you want with them !
  • 0
    @Ubbe

    Software availability is one of the big reasons I stick with Windows OS, rather than Linux..

    That might change one day of course.

    Probably only after I've written the software I want. :-)
  • 2
    @Nanos I had a 1040 STe with 4 MB of RAM and a 50 MB HDD. Both the SM124 SW and the SC1224 colour monitor via a switchbox. And a Competition Pro joystick of course.
  • 3
    @Nanos Great, I do the opposite for the same reason :-)
    ffmpeg, docker, golang etc just are better on Linux. And Linux itself of course is endlessly better than windows.
  • 1
    @Nanos I don't recall having much trouble with the ST. I had an external floppy drive, one sided. But I didn't have many games, and they loaded into ram as I recall. Universal military simulator was a favourite. I spent way to much time re-fighting Gaugamela.
  • 1
    @Ubbe I think I got the Linux virus. In my company, I'm on Windows, and it starts feeling odd - both Win 8.1 and, even worse of course, Win 10. I had a similar effect before Win 7 when I was already on full-time Linux at home.

    In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have trusted MS with Win 7, as good as it was. Given where they've gone with Win 10, I won't repeat that mistake even if they should remove the spyware, abolish the forced updates, and build up their old Windows QA again.

    Now that they've burnt my trust completely, even a whole flock of Windows swallows still wouldn't make a Windows summer.
  • 2
    @Fast-Nop

    I had an 1040STF 1Mb model.

    I did just manage to afford to upgrade it to 2.5Mb (Which then let me run a RAM disk so I could pretend to have two drives for software that needed 2 drives..)

    I only ever upgraded to 4Mb when RAM was so cheap, it was thrown away ! (Like 20 years later..)

    I could never afford a HD for it. :-(

    But I did have two monitors and a switch box, ah the heady days of 12" displays. :-)

    Not sure which monitors I had offhand, one was B&W with a swivel base and one colour. (I just read Atari did 3 slightly different colour monitors!)

    > Competition Pro joystick

    Was super !

    If only the joystick ports wasn't under the keyboard..

    I also remember wiring up an double joystick extender to plug into the back for 4 player games.

    I remember how amazing it was go to from a ZX Spectrum with tape drive to a 1Mb machine with floppy disk.

    It was like being heaven. :-)
  • 3
    @Ubbe

    I had one game that would only work correctly if you had a 2nd floppy drive plugged in. (Which I only got towards the end of my Atari time.)

    I don't think they ever fixed that software..

    I remember writing to the company explaining everything, and they gave me a full refund !

    Then, months later they send me another copy of the game, with the exact same bug..
  • 1
    @Nanos I love the Raspberry Pi!
  • 1
    You could play with zram or zswap to help with the ram situation a bit more.
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