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Is the Problem Linux or Your Old Hardware?
#1
While it’s certainly true that Linux can bring new pep to old hardware, it cannot fix failing components or compensate for extreme deficits in RAM and available storage. Yes, it’s a lot of fun to see how Linux runs on an old machine but don’t expect miracles. People contact me all the time complaining that Linux doesn’t work when in fact it’s the hardware itself. Trying to run a modern OS on a 32 bit, single core machine with anything less than 2 GB of RAM is going to be challenging. Some stuff just isn’t going to work right, especially graphics intensive applications. The machine will be slow and it might even lock up if you push it too hard. 

Keep in mind that advertised “minimum requirements” from Linux distributions represent the very least you need to make the system work. They do not mean that such a machine will run everything you might want it to. These days, the bare minimum for comfortable general computing (documents, e-mail, YouTube, online games and so on…) is a 4 core CPU with at least 4 GB of RAM. Even venerable 2 core CPU’s of just a few years ago are now overwhelmed when you launch a web browser.

As for failing hardware, components like WI-fi cards, graphics cards and hard drives just don’t up and die; they usually start doing weird things on an intermittent basis. That means they work sometimes and other times they don’t. Obviously, the only solution here is to replace such hardware.  That’s no big deal for those who have the skills required but to neophyte Linux newbies it usually meas finding some to do it for them for a fee. Dumping a lot of money into an old machine with limited capability is never a good idea. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of very nice refurbished late model machines available on eBay these days that cost a fraction of what a brand new machine goes for. If you’re serious about learning how to use Linux, find one of these you like that runs Linux well and start fresh. You can figure all that out with just a little research. There are forums just packed with people’s experiences with all kinds of machine. Linux is a hand-on thing…  Finding out what’s right for you is actually part of the fun.
-- Your Fearless Leader!

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#2
Another thing to keep in mind is something you don't run into with newer hardware, I can install mint 19 on a p2 450 and it will run buttttt I can't surf the internet because the new browsers won't work on a p2, they don't have the right instruction sets in the chip.

On the used machines from ebay you can get some real good deals if you don't rush it, I have as my main computer a HP z400 workstation with a xeon 4 core hyper thread, 20 gigs memory, 2 tb drive, and nvidia 650 ti boost video and it only cost a total of 200 bucks including delivery and I didn't even have to buy it all at once because I know how to assemble them.

If you are just looking for some hardware to play with keep your eyes open when you got to the dumpsters and sooner or later somebody will throw out usable hardware to play with just because they bought a new box for facebook lol.
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#3
(09-02-2019, 07:55 PM)spudnuts Wrote: On the used machines from ebay you can get some real good deals if you don't rush it, I have as my main computer a HP z400 workstation with a xeon 4 core hyper thread, 20 gigs memory, 2 tb drive, and nvidia 650 ti boost video and it only cost a total of 200 bucks including delivery and I didn't even have to buy it all at once because I know how to assemble them.

Yes... I have found some real gems on eBay for not much. My Dell T5400 with 32 GB of RAM and twin Zeon processors only cost around $300 when all was said and done. Smile
-- Your Fearless Leader!

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#4
The biggest issue with old hardware is energy and something many don't factor into the equation.

While it is true an old rig may be cheaper front you do have to consider power.  So at least try to go for newer older rigs as most average productivity work will allow you go save greatly on your power bill which adds up over time.
Jeremy (Mr. Server)

* Desktop: Ubuntu MATE
* Windows are for your walls, Apple is for your health, Linux is for your computer
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#5
All great points!  This thread should be stickied in the Mint section, where I'm guilty of recommending lighter distros, without explicitly stating the caveats about running modern applications.  I have had incredible luck helping friends revive older machines with lighter distros, but they met the hardware requirements and weren't, as Joe stated, expecting miracles.

I also still think a newbie FAQ would be useful on this forum.  Something that explicitly states the information in this thread and gently reminds new users asking for help to at least provide basic information about their machine / setup.

As always, I appreciate the work that goes into this site and its friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful users.  I always learn something useful here.
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#6
EzeeLinux
Yes... I have found some real gems on eBay for not much. My Dell T5400 with 32 GB of RAM and twin Zeon processors only cost around $300 when all was said and done

Thats a very nice price.




cleverwise
The biggest issue with old hardware is energy and something many don't factor into the equation.

Not sure if this is in response to my suggestion:
If you are just looking for some hardware to play with keep your eyes open when you got to the dumpsters and sooner or later somebody will throw out usable hardware to play with just because they bought a new box for facebook lol


If so I don't expect people to keep play hardware on fulltime like they would a server.
Also my personal habit is to turn off the monitor even if the box is left up.( Some CRTs use lots of power )
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#7
The major problem I see with the statement "Linux makes your old devices usable again" is that a lot of people apparantly expect that  they can simply put mainline Ubuntu on their really old machines and get them to be perfectly usable. For some it may work, but definitely not for all. Yes, Linux can be used on old computers, but you have to expect to put some work into it. For really old devices, you might even have to manually installing a CLI only system such as Debian and slowly building up a usable working environment. And even if you can get an X server to run, some applications, like Firefox, Gimp, LIbreOffice or Thunderbird might never run on the device.

I have an old laptop build for windows XP somewhere that is still usable(-ish), but anything older than is not worth it in my opinion.

My recomendation for anyone who is using a pre windows XP computer and hesitant to upgrade: A RaspberryPi 3B+ plus a decent power supply and a nice case can still cost less than 100€, while still being reasonable usable as a desktop computer. The new Raspberry Pi 4 is even better and you'd still be under 200€.
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"Things are only impossible until they’re not." - Captain Jean-Luc Picard
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