Breathe new life into your old hardware using Linux

Don’t throw away that old computer that can’t run anything above Windows XP. Give it new life with Linux!

old pc
Credit: Dennis van Zuijlekom/Flicrk

You may or may not have a skeleton in your closet, but chances are that you have an old computer collecting dust in the garage or a closet.

Let's take it out and breathe new life into it with an OS that is well-suited for low-powered, or older machines.

Choosing an OS

Though there are many distributions that can be run on older hardware, I tend to prefer Ubuntu based distros purely because of their support for drivers. Some of my recommended distributions are Lubuntu, Ubuntu Mate (both Ubuntu based), Puppy Linux, or TinyCore, among many more.

For beginners, I would suggest Ubuntu Mate. It needs a minimum of 512 MB of RAM and at least a Pentium 3, 750-MHz processor. If your system is on 265 MB of RAM and even older hardware then Puppy Linux is the best option as it needs only 64 MB of RAM and at least a 333MHz processor. The problem with such an old computer (with less than 512 MB of RAM) is while you may be able to get the OS running, you may not be able to do any serious web browsing.

You don’t even have to install anything to see which OS will function best on the old system. Create a Live CD or Live USB of the suggested distro and test which one works the best. Then go ahead and install the right one.

There are many very active and helpful Linux communities and forums to join, so you will get immediate (free of cost) support should you encounter any issues.

What to do with these computers?

Older computers, for obvious reasons, can't be used to do any heavy-lifting; you certainly can’t use them to play modern games or very resource intensive applications. But an older computer can be used as the family PC, the media center for your living room, inexpensive PC for your children, or to run media or file servers.

If you run a small business, older PCs can take care of your IT infrastructure. They can be used as client systems for employees as well as power things like print servers, file servers and other such needs.

Don’t throw out your old PC yet; take it out, blow off the dust and rekindle it with Linux.

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