Five generations of junk

I realized something rather odd the other day, and as a result, I think it will lead to a few interesting experiments. That’s what I call these little adventures … “experiments.”

It’s a little bit generous to say it in some places, but I believe I now have at least one machine across five different “generations” and 15 years of PC hardware — from Pentium 1 to multiprocessor machines.

The X60s is a core duo, and the newest machine in the house.

This Celeron, while not a speed demon, is puttering along at 2.5Ghz and part of the Pentium 4 family.

Its little brother, a 700Mhz Coppermine Celeron, is representative of the Pentium III bracket.

And it’s a wee bit of a stretch, but as a high-end K6-2 and a Super Socket 7 machine, this Sotec was meant to stand up to Pentium IIs.

True, it’s not really a 686 and so not exactly in that class, but it’s somewhere in that range. And its inception date is about right.

Last but definitely not least, this machine and this machine and this machine are all holdovers from the first Pentiums, at 150Mhz or below.

Below that? I’m afraid I hardly ever see 486 machines any more. It may just be an aversion to 15-plus-year-old hardware in the mind of Japanese consumers, which keeps them out of the recycling shops.

Or it may be that they’re all just finally wearing down and disappearing, as must happen to us all.

In any case, it’s been a very, very long time since I even saw a 486-based machine, let alone one is good enough condition to put to work.

But I would if I could. 😈

So the next question should be obvious: What do you do with an assembly of machines that span a decade and a half of hardware evolution?

Well, the answer should be obvious too: Install the same brand of Linux on all five creatures … and complain about it! :mrgreen:

3 thoughts on “Five generations of junk

  1. totalizator

    I’ve been looking around for a 486 machine for months and finally I’ve found one on an internet auction. It’s an exotic machine labeled as “Olivetti Echos 48 color plus” laptop. The specs are: 486 DX4 100MHz processor, 16MB RAM, 540MB HD, 3,5″ FDD, 2xPCMCIA slots, active color display, it’s pink (well, sort of), has German (QWERTZ) keyboard layout and has been manufactured in 1994. As if it weren’t enough the Olivetti is an Italian company but the laptop is assembled in Korea. Absolutely incredible ;). Oh and the original price in 1994 was $4038 USD. Here is an article I’ve found, introducing Echos 44 model (same look, older processor and smaller HD): (unfortunately it’s in Italian!).

    So far, I’ve been able to get rid of Windows 98 which previous owner put inside (quite operational) and install a Debian Woody (3.0). Everything thanks to a six (sic!) magic floppy installer images from Debian archive ( and a Xircom RealPort PCMCIA LAN card. The installation was unbelievably straight forward and the only inconvenience was changing the default apt sources (adding archive.* prefix to it). I’ve ended up with a ready to go ~100MB Debian install which after boot and logging in shows that the RAM usage is mere 3MB, swap usage 0MB (fully connected to the Internet).

    Lately I’ve even done dist-upgrade to Debian Sarge (3.1) and I think I’ll stick with that for longer as everything works just right. The machine is perfect for a dumb terminal as the only spinning thing is a hard disk and the power supply is labeled as 1,5A@21W max output. I’ve been able to run X on it with IceWM but despite using only 7MB RAM and ~20MB for SWAP it is too slow for comfortable use.

    Still, I think that it’s a great machine for which I can find many useful tasks on a daily basis (I’m not kidding). It’s unbelievably small – maybe a bit thicker than a modern netbook and proves how bloated modern laptops have become. It’s a great experience and a big lesson messing with hardware that old. Thanks for inspiration K.Mandla!

  2. darkduck

    Why do you need same version of Linux on all of them? I would install different versions. That way you can have more reasons to complain, if this is your aim.


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