[ILUG-BOM] Computer usage : Legacy hardware

Harsha Godavari h.godavari at shaw.ca
Tue Jul 26 08:29:27 IST 2016

I am glad you popped in. I admire your efforts to get the babus to use FOSS and BOSS (as an aside Boss is very difficult to download) . 

I am a bit long in the tooth and we started with a C-64 and a cassette tape for storage. So I am not averse to using "old stuff". If we can get all those legacy hardware (from i486 on) into use , suddenly we will have thousands of computers available for free. In the early 90's our computer user group ran a project,"Computers for Charities". We used to give away computers( essentially used XTs) to charitable organisations . We always had a waiting list ! Even today when I announce the availabilty of a PII or PIII computer on our local Freecycle , with in hours atleast a couple people ask for it. So there is hardware sitting in closets and people willing to use old hardware. 

The main problem, that I see is the lack of software. None of the WINDOWS (even if you are willing to support MS) will run(securely) on that hardware. Linux distros almost seem to compete with MS-OS for newer/bigger hardware. 

Linux distros like DSL, Luit linux are hibernating and others like Puppy are slowly getting "modernised". 

What I would like to see is some brave soul(s) to develop a distro deliberately aimed at older, non-PAE computers of i486-architecture. I do hope you remeber that a 486 based motherboards have a limitation on both RAM and HD space recognised. So the distro needs to require low memory (128MB? ) and small harddrives (>5GB?). 

harsha godavari 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Milind Oka" <oak445 at gmail.com> 
To: "GNU/Linux Users Group, Mumbai, India" <linuxers at mm.ilug-bom.org.in> 
Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 2:00:47 AM 
Subject: Re: [ILUG-BOM] Computer usage 

Nice suggestions Arun, 
In fact we can use them especially with dot-matrix printers to print 
pre-printed stationary. Fortunately dot-matrix printers are available 
With any preliminary RDBMS like dbase, we can put them on cash counter 
with dot-matrix printers to give receipts. It is really fun to use 
command line on them. You can really use them in various ways. In fact 
exploiting their power is a great skill that students should learn. 
I started my computer journey in 1989 with IBM pc XT, 4.77 MHz (Not GHz 
!) and 64k ram. I enjoyed working on them (mouse was not there on most 
of the machines). 
486 is a feast for me ! 

On Tuesday 26 July 2016 12:58 AM, Arun Khan wrote: 
> On Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 8:53 AM, Harsha Godavari <h.godavari at shaw.ca> wrote: 
>> I am looking for information regarding the use of older hardware from i486 and up. Ofcourse I am only thinking of end users who consider a computer as just another tool to get done whatever they are doing. 
>> Considering that many distros are beginning to require 64-bit CPUs running at Ghz speeds, needing Gigabytes of RAM and HD space, I was wondering if the old hardware is really E-waste or can still be used for some Email/Web surfing , nothing fancy . I would appreciate any info / sources you can provide. 
> The problem with email and web surfing -- the content has become 
> *bloatware* People send MBs as attachments and links to video 
> material and they require fairly high speed 'net access and cpu/ram 
> on the client side. Today, this is the *expectation* of the average 
> Joe/Jane user. In my experience, most video content is still Flash 
> and it tends to consume CPU/RAM (htop is great as a monitor). 
> Virtualized desktop may be the nice middle ground. You use these 
> legacy hardware as "thin" clients to connect to a LTSP server and 
> maximize the usage of old hardware. On the flip side, they need 
> legacy power supplies running in the range of 250W per seat - 
> definitely not green. 
> My 2 cents. 
> -- Arun Khan 


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