300Mhz Pentium II … and still in action

That hard drive-less FTP server I made finally got the hard drive tray I needed to get it running properly. With that and a spare 20Gb hard drive, it has come out of retirement as a spare machine for Mom.

I more or less built it up in the same way I built up Turbo, with ext3 as the primary file system, with the dir_index, journal_data_writeback and noatime tweaks, then with an Edgy beta installation on top. Readahead, profile, elevator=cfq, and a good reoptimization of the directory structure once everything was in place.

I added a sparse Openbox desktop, Iceweasel for the browser and XFE as a file manager. After that, everything else was icing.

And here’s the funny part: There’s a lot of icing. The system needed only 29Mb to boot to the desktop, and there’s no lag starting programs. So I added a few bonuses.

Now XMMS sounds great, and since the WPC11 wireless works perfectly, Mom streams Shoutcast channels while she plays Frozen Bubble. Java installed fine, and she can play Bookworm even if it takes a long time for the applet to get ready (like 3+ minutes … I wonder why).

After all that, I had to wonder … why not everything else? So on came the Gimp, Abiword and I might even throw on pypanel so it doesn’t look so sparse to her. About the only thing that keeps it from being another proper desktop is the lack of a start button.

Startup time is about 1:11 from a cold boot, which I blame on the oversized drive. Shutdown is less than 10 seconds. Total spent: $11. $5 for a broken laptop and $6 for a hard drive caddy. And she loves it more than the $1100 Inspiron 600m she got for Christmas.

Linux is great!


2 thoughts on “300Mhz Pentium II … and still in action

  1. Pingback: A bare minimum « Motho ke motho ka botho

  2. darrin

    That’s great!

    Amongst my arsenal of ThinkPads (I’ve also got an X60, which I see that you have recently acquired…), one of my favorite machines to use is my ThinkPad 770Z, which has a 350 MHz PII, 256 MB RAM and a 13 GB HDD. It’s seen various OS’s over the years (starting with FC-3); it currently runs Damn Small Linux (3.4.10 – light-weight and for ease of use). I love the snappiness of the keys on the keyboard, and it’s just a fun machine to use.

    I’m trying out Arch on an old Dell PIII right now, and once I have more time to get used to the OS, I may set up the PII on Arch too. From your blog posts, I get the idea that Arch runs well on old hardware. For old hardware, do you like to revert back to the 2.4.x kernel, or do you stay with the 2.6.x kernel? I think that read somewhere that the 2.4.x kernel has more support for old hardware than the 2.6.x. I’m curious to know your take on this.



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