08 March 2007

The lure of Xubuntu on an old Compaq Deskpro

SEVERAL months ago, I remember asking a question in Chin Wong's weblog whether an open-source operating system like Ubuntu can do a better job in running an older machine and doing the usual office chores. His reader Dave Asuncion, if I remember it correctly, suggested using Xubuntu, which is especially suited for these dinosaur PCs.

The unused casing of my original desktop at the School Board unit of the city presented us with that opportunity. We invested on new computer parts built around a Pentium Dual Core Processor and upgraded the unit; I got it up and running the other day after finally overcoming configuration hurdles, thanks to invaluable advice from Arvin of the EDP; and in spite of its shoddy externals, the unit is now CPDO's most powerful.

Effectively, it freed us an extra unit -- actually a solidly built Compaq Deskpro 2000 powered by a Pentium 166Mhz processor, with 64 MB memory (four EDO DRAM modules at 16 MB each) and a 1.2-GB hard disk. I feel some strange liking towards it; the unit was actually donated to the CPDO through the USAID-funded Governance and Local Democracy (GOLD) project in the late 90's; it is under the GOLD project that I earned my spurs.

But when I checked the Xubuntu website, it seems the Ubuntu installer that the EDP loaned out to me will not work, precisely because the minimum requirements of the OS is 128 MB of RAM and 1.5 GB of disk space for the installation process.

The hard disk constraint can be overcome; it is the availability of the EDO DRAM type memory modules that is giving me problems. At this age of 1 GB DDR2 memory modules, they surely have become rarities, museum pieces even. Any suggestions to get me out of this bind? I've had more than enough of Windows 98; the lure of Xubuntu remains a most enthralling proposition.


Chin said...

Hi Willy,

I haven't tried it myself, but there's Damn Small Linux, which:

# Runs light enough to power a 486DX with 16MB of Ram
# Runs fully in RAM with as little as 128MB


Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Hi Chin,

Thanks for pointing me to DSL. Downloaded it already and did some preliminary reading. In trying to prepare the Deskpro, I disassembled the unit and cleaned its parts yesterday. But I have problems booting up when I put it back together. Too many things to do, too little time.:)