Ten things you can do keep an old computer useful

I spend my working hours on a 2.26Ghz machine, but my play time is devoted to the hardware of the last century. I sometimes get questions about how to work with a second-string computer, and usually my answers are something on this list. I could give a lot more, but these are the most frequent.

  1. Keep it clean. Any hardware geek will tell you that dust, dirt, grime and funk keep a computer from running peak. And any hardware geek with a shred of pride will show you a computer case clean enough to eat out of. Dust impedes fans. Dirt creates a thermal layer that makes things overheat. Grime blocks connections. (No joke: I’ve seen computers “magically” start working again just by cleaning dust from the case and motherboard.)
  2. Keep it in working order. It should go without saying, but using flaky or error-prone hardware puts the rest of the system at risk. So don’t be afraid to splurge on a new 200W power supply for your 450Mhz desktop if the old one is acting funny. Or an extra 64Mb for your aging Thinkpad. It’s worth it. And so is a little protection: An added layer of ventilation or a better fan is not overkill if you care about the hardware you’re running.
  3. Do your homework. It’s an obvious analogy, but not having a basic understanding of the inside of your computer is kind of like not having a basic understanding of the inside of your car. You don’t have to know how to field-strip and overclock an Athlon box, but you should at least have an idea what might be wrong when something misbehaves inside your K6-2+ 550.
  4. Pick the OS that fits. Don’t expect straight Ubuntu to run on a 333Mhz computer. Don’t expect straight Xubuntu to run on a 166Mhz box. But don’t feel bad because your machine doesn’t play well with the distro of your choice. For every favorite distro there’s a second place finisher, and there’s no shame in using a different flavor on a different machine. I regularly use a lighter distribution (like Arch, SLAX or Zenwalk) on machines that can’t handle Ubuntu’s bulk.
  5. Pick a filesystem that fits. If you don’t know what that means, read more about filesystems and find one that’s appropriate for your hardware. I’m not going to just tell you which one is right, because it depends on your processor, your hard drive, your IO connections and your file workload — all at the same time.
  6. Use a smooth desktop. I’m not a big Gnome or KDE fan, and if you’re on an old machine you probably aren’t either. There’s nothing wrong with them — they’re just too heavy for my purposes. If you’re running an old machine, take the time to learn Fluxbox, Openbox, IceWM or even FVWM. A svelte window manager can be the difference between life and death for an older machine.
  7. Lighten the load. Throw out the stuff you don’t use, or don’t want in the way. Drop the unwanted packages, services, features and frills that slow you down. Sure, my 300Mhz Pentium II can do pure transparency and composited windows, but I don’t run that nonstop. I save it to show off to other geeks. If it’s too slow, it’s got to go.
  8. Or better yet, start from scratch. It’s more effective than sifting through a bulky installation. And it’s almost a guarantee that any system you customize from scratch will perform better than one you rip the guts out of. If you take charge of what’s on your machine and add only what you want, the end result will always be faster. Some distros work this way by default.
  9. Learn to love the terminal. You can get an amazing number of things done in a terminal window, and on a slow machine, this is critical. Don’t be afraid to relegate tasks like music management, IRC, e-mail, file management or torrent downloading to a terminal window. Old machines thrive on console applications and the final product is generally indistinguishable from that of a chunky GUI app.
  10. Show it off. Make it pretty. Repaint it. Cover it with stickers. Mod the case. Let your kids illustrate it. Doom it up. You’re more likely to keep and use a machine that looks good and makes the local geek green with envy … than one that looks like a heap of dirty junk. No matter what speed it runs. ;)
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139 thoughts on “Ten things you can do keep an old computer useful

  1. gunnix

    My brother recently got a computer for free from someone because it was broken.
    He tried to fix it but gave it away to my little brother. I helped him out by taking everything apart and cleaning the dust off, and putting back. It worked perfect after that. My other brother was pissed he gave away what he thought wasn’t working :) (definately nice cause he’s got a huge ego lol)

    Reply
  2. mpiasecki

    Good thought process there. I have a PentiumMMX 133 running FreeBSD with blackbox and dillo for web browsing. Everything else it pretty much though $bash if I can help it.

    Reply
  3. Danny

    I would submit this post to Digg, but I wouldn’t want your site to be down. The Digg effect can be doom.

    Excellent advice. Something every Linux and old hardware geek should have on their wall.

    Reply
  4. Jaymoon

    Very good suggestion about finding alternative programs that run faster.

    Azureus too slow? Try Ktorrent.
    Browsing through your video folder in Nautilus takes forever? Try PCMan File Manager.

    I installed Xubuntu on an old 450MHZ computer I had laying around, and it runs so much smoother than Suse 10.1 with Gnome that I had been running before…

    Reply
  5. mk2ja

    You should put one of those Digg buttons on here, too. I was apparently not logged in when I saw this on Digg, but now that I logged in, I can’t find it again to Digg it!

    Reply
  6. Binaryspiral

    Smoothwall and a couple of nics makes any old system into a firewall that can handle more traffic that the latest offerings from Linksys, Dlink, or Netgear… and much more configurable.

    My $0.02 anyway.

    Reply
    1. Beeker

      Very true – I used a 100Mhz Pentium with 64Mb RAM as a firewall running IPCop for six years or more. There’s a plugin for IPCop that allows you to download the configuration to another machine, so even if the ancient disk fails, you just pop another in, run the installer again and restore your config. Brilliant.

      Eventually I restructured my network so I didn’t need the IPCop box anymore.

      Reply
  7. lpcustom

    “it’s not WordPress you have to worry about — it’s your server!”

    Yo dummy….look at your browser’s address bar.

    Reply
  8. Tony P.

    At one job we had dehumidified compressed air available at several locations in the building, including one in the garage.

    Every three months I’d take PC’s out to the garage, open them up and blow out all the dust bunnies. We managed to use those PC’s for several years past their normal lifespan.

    When we were floating budget ideas I recommended a compressor. Can never have enough blowing air.

    Reply
  9. Douglas F Shearer

    I run several websites, svn, trac, backups, some heavy number crunching for my new folding@home stats new project ( http://fahstats.douglasfshearer.com ), folding@home, and a bittorrent server on an old 500Mhz Celeron with 192MB of RAM.

    All runs dandy, though due to a slowly dieing motherboard (I can now only connect one ATA device) and work demands it’s being replaced by a dual core Xeon machine soon.

    Has served me well for almost 10 years now.

    Reply
  10. Ray

    Tony P.

    Compressed air can cause static, so I would advise people to be very carefull when using compressed air to clean out their machine

    Reply
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  12. Jonathan F

    Ray, I have to disagree with you as I have a friend who has operated a computer repair shop and has used compressed air for probably 10,000 computers and NEVER has had a problem.

    Reply
  13. gravity

    >Compressed air can cause static, so I would advise people to be very carefull when using compressed air to clean out their machine

    and blowing air from the mouth can cause spitting on the motherboard. what do you suggest?

    Reply
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  16. Bob

    Endian Firewall Community Edition works qute well on anything with a PII-450 or bigger and 256MB of Ram. It’s a great way to continue to use an old machine and the firewall can keep your kids out of stuff you don’t want them in. It’s not perfect but it does work well.

    Bob

    Reply
  17. Pat

    Some day (in 2000) I have found old Am386DX motherboard in my hardware rubbish. Because of sentiment to that configuration of PC I assembled whole machine from it. I started my PC computing adventure with that kind of machines in 1991. The machine has AMD 80386 DX 40MHz processor and 4MB of RAM. I installed Debian or Slackware on that. Can’t remember, but I’m sure kernel was 2.0.36. Everything worked as expected. It was visible slow machine. But it worked. Now I have collection of five IBM Netvistas with PIII 1GHz connected to fileserver. And my family is happy surfing on the Internet. All (and more) is controlled by Debian GNU/Linux.

    Reply
  18. Travis

    I have an old Dell optiplex 450 MHZ. It had been handed down through the ages from my older brother to me to my younger brother and finally nobody needed it anymore. Throw it away? Of course not!!! Me and my older brother spray painted it black (looks awesome btw if anyone has the same system) loaded knoppmyth (Distro based around mythtv – http://www.mythtv.org) on it and now it’s an always on master backend that can WoL me and my older brothers computers to record tv shows. Given it’s limited workload of fetching channel data and only one 60mm quiet-ish fan it’s perfect for the job.

    Reply
  19. Larry

    You could have at least mentioned Damm Small Linux. It’s great for a P-166 machine. I use it on an old HP P-233 with no hard drive for “guests” to use to get their email. Very useful.

    Reply
  20. Rick Sparks

    My favorite thing to do with older-generation PCs is to delegate them to time-consuming tasks such as video rendering. Since it takes my 2gHz Celeron PC ten hours to process a feature-length MPG, I’ll let the Pentium 350 I bought on eBay for a hundred bucks do the same work for seventeen hours so I can keep playing games, doing some writing, watching online documentaries, and such. Get a switcher to share the keyboard/monitor/mouse and you won’t even need a second desk, just cram the old PC in a corner. Multi-machine tasking rules!

    Reply
  21. Chris C

    very nice article. I love using my old computers laying around for stuff like SMB servers, apache, ventrilo servers. you can do anything with em and linux! great for any project. Like rick above, i dont hook up monitor, or keyboard or anything, in fact, I dont even like to install an X server. I throw my old comp in the closet, and I just SSH into it if I ever need to do anything to it.
    Knowing the command line is essential.

    Reply
  22. me

    actually… ubuntu is not fat at all. i installed the server edition on my gf computer (133mhz 64mb toshiba lappy) and installed the packages for X on top of that.

    heavy duty packages like firefox she runs from my server and with the graphics/sound redirected to her laptop. it works great and is under 500mb.

    on the plus side i can use the same distro for every computer in the house which keeps the learning/research curve to a minimum.

    Reply
  23. Wanna-B

    Good stuff. I have an old Compaq I have been fiddling with, I finally got it up and running…One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Now my kid has a computer!

    Reply
  24. Lukaszp

    What about Gentoo and compiling/optimizing your system for the hardware you have in your machine. I don’t say it’s for everybody but for those who can do it it’s a good way to go.

    Reply
  25. heinzketchup

    The title as an error and isn’t really about keeping an old computer useful as to maintaining one. I thought this article would give me ideas on how to make it useful for every day stuff like let’s say turn it into a media center pc or a music player.

    Reply
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  27. Harry Hexagon

    I highly recommend trying out Enlightenment 17 WM over Fluxbox. It is noticeably more responsive, even in spite of having a lot of extra eye-candy.

    Reply
  28. jc

    Nice article, since two years ago I’m running as my Internet firewall OpenBSD in a 486DX with 48MB of RAM. It doesn’t have any GUI but it just works wonderfully, inside a plastic box.

    OpenBSD 4.0 (GENERIC) #1107: Sat Sep 16 19:15:58 MDT 2006
    deraadt@i386.openbsd.org:/usr/src/sys/arch/i386/compile/GENERIC
    cpu0: Intel 486DX (486-class)
    real mem = 49905664 (48736K)
    avail mem = 37015552 (36148K)

    Free available memory is about 10-12 MB of RAM running just these processes ;) pf + ntpd + pflogd + apache + dnsmasq + noip2 + sshd + syslogd + dhclient + postfix. UNIX&LINUX ROCKS!

    Reply
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  33. Jeff Smith

    I also use DamnSmallLinux on an older machine. Its an old laptop.
    133Mhz Pentium,
    32MB ram
    1.6GB harddrive

    On a machine this old I manage to play audio cd’s, stream internet radio via shoutcast or stream mp3’s from other machines on my network, browse the web, read ebooks, chat on 9 different messenger networks using GAIM… It has a word processor, spreadsheet, I can even use GIMP for editing photos.

    All this on a machine this old. Who’da’thunkit?

    Hence there’s no reason to throw out an old computer if it works, unless you’re just plain lazy or afraid you may have to learn something.

    All this on a Fujitsu Lifebook 735Dx.

    If you don’t want your old machine, you’re welcome to send it to me!

    Reply
    1. petr

      Hello! I also have 735dx!!! I bought it some time in 1997…. and did everything on it for the looongest time…
      Then, it went to the closet.
      And now, I want to bring it back to life!

      It has 32mb ram now… and win98SE… I would not mind trying linux – it will be a big challenge to me though, never tried!

      my prolems now are that: the comp sometimes beeps three times and suspends. after waking up from suspend, it is frozen. I dont know how to prevent this.

      and, i dont quite know how to make it work with wifi usb stick…

      best wishes,
      petr

      Reply
  34. mepawel

    I saw a video on veoh today showing exactly what you are posting about…well for humorous efect anyways ;)

    There was some pretty funny stuff in it like computer-mouse golfballs for example. If you want a link, just drop me a line ;)

    Reply
  35. nick

    you forgot that old standby of turning those early dinky cube Apple Classics into …yep geek fish-bowls … [i have seen folk do this...]

    Reply
  36. Arem

    Amen! I will say that dirt isn’t too much of a problem unless it’s really bad. Unless you have a window, vacuum it once a year and you’ll be good. But I’ve got to agree: picking the OS that fits is definitely a bit a lot of people miss. I don’t know how many people I see trying to run Windows XP on their old piece of junk machine. If they used an OS designed for that hardware, and killed off all the billion things they have running at startup, they’d have a perfectly good machine.

    Reply
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  38. Thorx3

    So, I have a DELL Gxi Pentium PRO 200 Mhz with 384MB RAM, with an HP CDWriter Plus 9200i and works perfectly with OpenBSD / FreeBSD.
    Old Hardware is very useful to make appliances like firewalls, even FreeNAS for file network storage :-D

    Reply
  39. Television Live

    I have kept all my old pcs, regardless of their working condition and I truely encourage people to at least decorate their pcs rather then just keep them as they are. And use them as file servers at the very least.

    Reply
  40. Phoenix Woman

    It occurs to me: Modern PDAs have similar specs to an old 486 unit, yet they’re being forced to run crudware like Windows CE. How ’bout retrofitting one of those buggers with the minimalist old-school software of one’s choice? (For instance: Is there any reason anyone needs anything more ‘advanced’ than Word97 for word processing software? My own favorite is WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, but I realize that some folk might want to use something that has HTML features in it. But really, most word processing software that I’ve seen sucks at HTML/XML editing, so why not just use the OpenOffice or other HTML/XML editor instead?)

    Reply
  41. Hmmm

    PLEASE take the next logical step here and
    (I know you’ve implied the direction) but
    humor us with your actual findings, especially with
    Ubuntu and Xubuntu and perhaps another next lighter GUI
    distro worth using.

    I speak with some passion here as Ive recently
    spent TOO much time trying to piece together the
    HELL of keeping old stuff in tune. It’s ABSOLUTELY
    WORTH DOING, but can be hell to sort out…So many distros
    and variations, not to mention hardware drivers.

    My example was compaq presario 1255 laptop.
    I made it dual boot 98 and Xubuntu.
    The Xubuntu 6.10 is a lil heavy but works stable
    and frankly I’d have NO IDEA the next lighter GUI to try,
    much less if Gnome, KDE, or some other desktop is
    an obvious choice to speed things a tad without losing
    functionality. Im using whats native to Xubuntu because I dont have better info on add-on/replacement option.

    Linux, while flexible is often awkward as hell for the Non-guru
    to accurately figure out dependency issues, which kernel version/distro etc.
    I once spent 2 days trying to completely add Amorok
    to full Ubuntu Breezy Bad….adding one missing file at a time.

    In my presario 1255 example, Win98 defaults the laptop display to a unreadable 640×480. After hellacios googling, I found out that Sanyo via another company sensoray made the display,,,,Drivers? nope. Turns out that Neomagic 128 ZV drivers from Magicgraph will get you to a usable 800×600 16 color display on the 98 side.

    Ive found out through pure hell torture what .inf, .pdr files etc will get Alcor Mass storage card readers woking on regular 98.
    I figured out the mass storage to get the ipod nano going, and a Lexar jumpdrive.–none of this obvious….

    Then,,,I wanted to add a G wifi card…really?
    Struck out on Netgear WG511 for Ubuntu and Win98

    So….PLEASE go ahead and share what worked decent and stable enough, so others can know too.

    Its already hell enough to dodge the gotchas where you need Adobe Flash drivers above Ver 8 and Win98 cant support that,,,then you hopefully can switch over to your ubuntu.

    Oh, and I want GUI linuxes too. Most people got a Azz full of commandline with DOS years ago. Yes we know ls -a …etc, but thats for the hardcore people..I just want a gui…THAT WORKS.
    This command line sympathy has haunted the mainstreaming of Linux.

    Your spelled out info on gui linuxes for old computers could be huge in making more linux users.

    Sorry for my venting hahahah
    You are welcome to post and view at my site.

    http://mrobvious.wordpress.com

    Reply
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  43. syahid ali

    once i made an old system with 2GB’s of hard disk space to run an as an antispam server for my company’s mailserver. works like a charm for an old fella.

    Reply
  44. Angela & Joseph Krivoruk

    Thanks for the input.
    I need to do that– HOPEFULly it’ll RUN quicker and won’t be over heating. :)

    Reply
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  46. sistemasoperativos

    I have two old computers (Pentium I MMX 200 MHz 32 MB RAM, and Pentium III 128 MB RAM). The oldest one is used for debian or freebsd command line use to try services like webserver, mail… the other right now with debian + gnome to install and try graphic software.

    Very interesting post, thank you

    Reply
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  48. Rob

    Or you could use it as a thin client! If you have a modern computer and a few old junkers sitting around, load your favorite distro on the good computer, along with LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) and those old computers can boot over the network. They’ll run all their programs on the good computer, but display on the old computer. It’s a great way to make use of old hardware.

    Reply
  49. 1ofHis

    And don’t delete any drivers! My first computer was a 386 that came from the Pentagon. It had a game on there that I loved to play. I didn’t know anything about computers at that time so I went to the library and got some books. One of them was for “Dummies”. I learned that I could delete unnecessary files and somehow got into the system files. I saw a huge list of drivers and thinking they were actual names of people drivers, I deleted them. Next time I turned on my computer, I saw a blank screen! How sad!

    Reply
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  51. Marianne

    Great blog article–thanks! I too use a last century computer (I hate to discard anything stil working, except an ex husband!)–Very detailed and useful, I believe I can keep this beloved computer going a bit longer now.

    Marianne
    My blog: comfortfoods.wordpress.com

    Reply
  52. engtech

    You forgot the ever popular “fill the old computer up with cement, leave it on the front lawn and watch from a window as people try to steal it”.

    Reply
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  56. Not Again

    How many times do we have to read this article? There must be literally _thousands_ of articles about running linux on old boxes. Dont take offense. But seriously, these articles started appearing a decade ago, and nothing about them has changed, nothing at all. We know already.

    Reply
  57. Freddy de la Cruz

    Greeting from Chile!

    I have an old Toshiba Libretto 50 (75Mhz), 32MB running WIN98SE.
    700MB HD.
    Better than a PDA or an E-book reader. Excelent for abandonware.
    And runs Office 97, IE, mail, news, etc. I am still looking for
    some old 16bit PCMCIA cards or the famous docking station.
    Or some fancy solid state hard disk… Or linux.

    My friends admire this little machine.

    Reply
  58. Joe Brandt

    Old systems are environmentally beneficial! I use an old 400MHz (running FC5) as a print/firewall/fileserver. Draws less than half the power of my multi-GigaHertz P4 systems. Go green!

    Reply
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  63. kdrlx

    Pentium MMX 200Mhz
    64MB RAM
    10GB + 80GB Hard-Drive (Not recognized by BIOS, but doesn’t matter linux)

    Server – Web Server, File Server, Router

    Debian Etch Custom Install

    Reply
  64. James

    I am disappointed with the new Window Vista Platform it does nothing than to slow and alienate older computers. I tried running it on my year old Dell Computer and it ran miserably, I’ve since uninstalled and gone back to XP. New Operating software means new operating systems these days.

    Reply
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  70. steve

    great site,,got a server running on my old comp,,my url is my server, check it out,,also got an old 486 running win98 using it for cpu sharing,,making a few pennies lol

    Reply
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  73. Ice

    Moin, moin,
    What about using an old iron as a terminal with Nomachine’s FreeNX or more consequent with LTS? See also Rob’s post from March 22. I am using an old Dell Notebook Latidude C600 with a P-III 600MHz CPU and 256MB Ram as a terminal and it works very well because alle applicatons are running on a adequate server. After a disk-crash i used it with the live-cd, this time i had only access with the delivered app ‘terminal server client’… Now with a new disk i’m up and running again with it and even wireless.
    I have seen the ubuntu-packages nbd-server and nbd-client, which were used within LTS. I want to expand my notebooks diskspace with this Network Block Device thingmagics but i dind’t sucseeded. Is there somebody, who also wants to attach a device like harddisk / cd- / dvd- / blueray- / hd-dvd – burner to a box which can’t support additional hardware? I heard that the harddisks are much more faster than with NFS oder ISCSI!

    sincerely yours
    Ice

    PS: Very, very great post!!

    Reply
  74. Jake

    I’d like to suggest using Kazehakase for older machines. It is a light web browser based on the Gecko rendering engine, so you should be able to browse much like Firefox without your extensions.

    Reply
  75. velox

    i’ve tried it on:
    Pentium MMX 200Mhz
    64MB RAM
    10GB Hard-Drive (Not recognized by BIOS, but doesn’t matter linux)
    …and it works

    Reply
  76. funkameleon

    Xubuntu 7.10 alternate is running great on a Compaq Presario 4810
    That’s a pentium MMX 200MHz, 64 MB RAM (like Velox : )
    perfect for a light webserver, ssh server and a irssi-/torrentbox

    Reply
  77. Umfaan

    Hey! This is great – not only your article, but that there have been so many responses. Nice one! Like many others, I am into “oldware” – specifically Old Hardware with a new lease on life thanks to top software like the Ubuntu clan and light and efficient stuff like Sqlite.

    Only problem is, with so many people realising old hardware is so useful, prices at the tip are going to be on the way up…

    By the way – I am guessing you are South African. Keep up the good stuff Brother!

    Reply
  78. Bob

    Interesting stuff! On librettoworld.com, we collect some very useful information about older mini laptops (the Toshibo Libretto) and there use also. Even the most modern Linux distributions like Xubuntu 8 run on the oldies.

    Reply
  79. Chris

    It’s a shame lots of big companies throw out old computers. Mind you they destroy the hard drive (wipe it and then drill holes in them) our company just last year (unfortunately I missed it) threw out about 50 old P2 laptops. Wow wouldn’t a lot of people love to get ahold of one of those.

    Also they were throwing out 10 or 20 GX300’s not bad but they were perfectly good computers (gasp!!) and people were ripping the processors out of them and the RAM. Why didn’t they just take the whold damn computer!? (shocked)

    I managed to get 2 but I had to pay $30 for them. Then I found one and luckily it was all intact except the processors and RAM. I had grabbed a couple of Processors earlier in the day before anyone had chance and I used them to get a nice working GX300 with a clean hard drive.

    These machines are all perfect for LINUX and will probably run Windows just fine.

    It’s just a shame companies could donate this equipment to lower income people instead of junking them. However just got news some more are going 4or5gx400’s. I’m going to try to save 2 or 3.

    Great article by the way, I’m always looking for things you can do with old computers. Don’t forget you can set them up to control some automation projects / robotics projects / astronomy tracking etc… lots of cool stuff you can do if you know a bit about electronics.

    Reply
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  81. adelgazar

    Thank you for this list. You reminded to us those things we all should know. It comes very handy in these days of economic turndown.

    Reply
  82. Computer Rental Company

    Great tips!All computer users should know about this.Many of us ignore the power of cleaning up computer. And I mean this literally. I have read from many articles that the actual keeping of the PC and the environment clean totally affects the performance of computers. Computers tend to have longer life span and better computing processing.

    Reply
  83. RaiulBaztepo

    Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

    Reply
  84. Joseph

    I was given an old laptop, that had windows xp and wouldn’t do anything because it was covered with viruses. This of course, was before I knew anything about computers so we gave it away! Now I think about it all the time! I could have a had a laptop!

    Reply
  85. thealphanerd

    I’ve got an old Compaq Presario with 28 MB of RAM. It runs 98 decently with IE 666, but I’d like to see it handle Linux. It has a 333 Mhz processor, and no ethernet or any internet because some guy took it’s networking card. I also have another running 95 with a front CLOCK SPEED MEASURE, but also dial-up. It’s actually decently fast. They both have semi-working disc drives. (The presario can’t play audio CDs) My ISP requires dial up users have Windows XP or higher, and that’s crazy, considering most would run ancient Windows. I’ve got one more, and it runes XP. To a crawl with 253 MB of ram. Then that beast has a 2.4 Ghz processor, oddly.

    Reply
  86. Prescott Linux

    This is an excellent article on Linux with older PCs, I have a 10 year old notebook at home I’ve trying different distros on and it’s been a blast!

    Reply
  87. funk

    I have and old laptop (tho not as old as the ones you guys are referring to) with 1.33Ghz and 256 RAM and i was going to run Xubuntu on it. however, i was worried that when i did this, my wireless card (D-link Airplus G) wouldn’t work on Xubuntu. i dont want to switch if im going to lose my internet…. can anyone help with this?

    Reply
    1. tisch

      funk:

      it works beautifully. i had a pentium III 1.13ghz with a dlink wirless g card, and i’ve had a pentium m 1.6 with an internal dlink card. i think it was called ‘air force one’ or something. i had to manually install the driver from dlink for both.

      when i did it worked perfectly. no hassles with the installs either.
      the laptops ran so well that i sold the older one for a good price, and used the pentium m as my daily comp for months!
      the battery life was also a full hour longer than it was on xp. go figure. xubuntu is a great distro, especially for that generation of machine.

      Reply
      1. funk

        where did you find the driver? i’ve been searching for a while now, but to no avail. even on Dlink’s website. my card is the DWL G630. thanks for your help!

        Reply
  88. funk

    nevermind, i loaded xubuntu onto my computer and it worked well, without installing anything! oh the beauty of open source……

    Reply
  89. funk

    altho, now i just got 2 macs from a friend, (LC and LCII) and i have no idea what to do with them. i really dont need a server (HD is 40MB) and i dont really need to render anything, so i have no idea what to do with them….

    Reply
  90. NickC

    If you need to have X, you don’t have to have a desktop. You could try one of the light tiling window managers such as musca, dwm, scrotwm, wmii, etc. Musca is my choice, currently using 865Kb in total, and managing several xterms, opera, claws-mail plus some other apps on my current laptop.

    Reply
  91. TheThornz

    Things you can do with an old computer.

    1.)Set up a Boinc Server to help with science calculations for aiding in curing diseases, astronomy, mathematics and artificial intelligence. http://boinc.berkeley.edu/.

    2.)Donate it to a computer recycling facility for a Tax deduction.

    3.)Keep it up and running and store it in a closet as a spare computer, in case your main system fails.

    4.) Install linux! and mess around

    5.) got to http://www.dosgames.com and install every Dos game, Keep it as an old school gaming machine.

    I have an old laptop I keep at home with a Netzero account in case the power goes out. If the power goes out my cable goes out. I can turn on the laptop and hook it up to the phone line.

    I also have 2 old 1.2Ghz AMD machines with 512 ram running the Boinc project Rosseta@home, which helps to research and treat cancer.

    Reply
  92. Jordan

    I have an old laptop I keep at home with a Netzero account in case the power goes out. If the power goes out my cable goes out. I can turn on the laptop and hook

    Reply
  93. Ricardo

    You gave me the idea of unboxing my old pentium 3 450mhz. I did this today. When I connected it on the power line, something inside the power supply exploded.. hehhehehe.. oh god, I really hate when this happens. Now I need to find a new one to see if that baby is still working. :(

    Reply
  94. Moogly

    I’m currently installing ubuntu for a friend’s old computer, sorta slow, I’m thinking of setting it up with OpenBox and configuring it to use OpenBox/Gnome it’s not too slow but not exactly as fast as I would have expected it. I’m thinking I should install chronium instead of Firefox for them. Anyway thanks for these tips they help :)

    Reply
  95. Pingback: Principia Mathematica Corporatica « Motho ke motho ka botho

  96. Pingback: Colton Rucker » Keep That Old Computer

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