[ubuntu-uk] Looking for old computers

Barry Drake ubuntu-advertising at gmx.com
Fri Jul 3 07:29:52 UTC 2015

On 25/06/15 11:12, Barry Drake wrote:

> That's interesting!  My old pentium 4 has only 256 Mb ram.  I'm going to
> try some old dimm cards to see if any are compatible

Hi there ...  I've had a very interesting time since then.  I didn't 
have a pair of suitable dimm cards, so I've stuck with the 256 MB.  I've 
now tried a whole lot of distros.  The very best results are with DSL - 
and there's now a DSL-N - which does quite a lot more.  And also Puppy. 
  That's probably the best way to demonstrate what is possible on such 
limited hardware.

BUT.  When I first installed DSL to a heard drive, it worked perfectly 
and booted just fine from the hard drive.  It just happened that I put 
it on an old IDE drive that had Ubuntu 8.04 on it.  After that, I tried 
to work with another IDE drive that had been re-partitioned recently 
using gparted.  Grub could not be installed by the DSL (or Puppy) 
installer.  It threw the error that there was no corresponding BIOS 
drive.  This has to do with a change in the way the MBR works now, 
compared with back then.

I installed 8.04 on a drive using the old hardware.  Surprisingly, 8.04 
runs on the old hardware better than I had expected!  After that, I 
installed DSL-N onto the same drive with perfect results.  Now, how to 
change the MBR on other drives without having to install 8.04 ....  I 
think I can save the first 446 bytes of the MBR to a file using dd - I 
understand that this copies only the boot information, and not the 
partition table, so it is portable to another disk.  Having said that, I 
can't find anywhere exactly what has changed in the way in which BIOS 
boot took place then compared with now.  I've just about exhausted my 
efforts to find out on the internet ...  anybody know any more?  I'm 
really curious.

But: my answer as to the best system for seriously old computers is 
definitely DSL-N and/or Puppy.  Both seem a bit quirky at first, but 
they can both be made to do almost anything commonly needed.

Regards,		Barry.

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