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Another One for the Museum


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#1 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 08:44 PM

Well my daughter wants to get rid of her Dell Dimension 8400 desktop from 2005, so against my better judgement I have agreed to bring it into the computer junker museum. I'll post its exact specs once I have it but if I recall correctly it is a 32 bit Pentium 4, DDR2 RAM, early SATA 1 technology. It has a Dell flat screen.
Not worth much to upgrade so I tentatively plan to wipe Windows XP and put on 32 bit Debian (probably with LXDE) and see how it runs. If it's a total dog I can always recycle.
This is the absolute minimum I would consider for a refurb and if it were not such a great Linux machine I wouldn't bother.
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#2 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 08:55 PM

You may be better off installing an older version of a distro. We found an old P4 last year at work with windows 2000s on it and I was surprised at how snappy it felt. That said, you could run openbox or something on it and it may perform just fine. The kicker will be trying to use a modern web browser on it. Javascript and such will cripple that machine,
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#3 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 08:58 PM

Good idea.
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#4 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 09:13 PM

The video card is an old Radeon X800XT but I do have an Nvidia GT440 around which I can install. That has to be better even if I just use the FOSS driver stack.

Edited by raymac46, 25 June 2017 - 09:14 PM.

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#5 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 09:18 PM

Slackware (32bit) would LOVE that machine!

#6 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 09:23 PM

Another good idea.
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#7 OFFLINE   abarbarian

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 04:39 AM

MX-16 runs nicely on my old Dell. I'll post the specs later when I fire the pc up. :breakfast:
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#8 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 06:40 AM

MX-16 is a very nifty distro and if I had the intention of giving this machine away I'd install it for sure. As it is, nobody in their right mind around Almonte would want a 13 year old desktop that doesn't run Windows so I may as well keep it as a testbed and install something weird and fun - like Slackware. :w00t:
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#9 OFFLINE   Dr. J

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 07:46 AM

I ended up going with Debian and LXDE on my old MSI Netbook (64bit, since the atom chip supports it) and it works an absolute charm, I can even do the tiny bit of "programming" (just python scripting really) without any issues. I find web browsing can be a bit slow on it, what with all the various bloat in modern websites. A Windows XP era desktop is probably better for that, there's a HP Pavilion in the house that I've occasionally used without issue, although I don't know the exact specs of the machine of the top of my head.

Edited by Dr. J, 26 June 2017 - 07:46 AM.

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#10 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 09:08 PM

Slackware, weird and fun? Meh... I guess that's a good description of the OS, if not its users. :w00t:

#11 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 07:16 PM

Down at my daughter's today and got two junkers for the price of one.
The Dimension 8400 is from 2005, has a Pentium 4 540 32 bit processor, DDR2 memory (2 GB I think,) 160 GB HDD, Radeon X300 video.
I also got a machine from her preschool that was acting up with Vista. In theory this is a better system from 2008 - Acer small form factor tower, Pentium E2220 cpu, 2 MB RAM, 320 GB HDD and Nvidia integrated graphics. It will run 64 bit Linux.
I am going to clean up and inspect both machines tomorrow before I do any installation. I believe they both need it. If the problem with the Acer is a bad video chip I am beat as it's too small for a discrete card.
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#12 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 10:49 AM

I have used the leaf blower on both boxes. They were dirty but I don't see any obvious signs of failure. Caps look OK.
The Acer is by far the more capable unit. It was made in 2009, with a Core2 Duo that is 64 bit. Could be upgraded to 4 GB DDR2 if needed. It is tough to work on because of being a small form factor. To change the CMOS battery you have to take out the drive cage. It gave a reassuring POST "beep" so the mobo is probably fine. The errors might have come from the hard drive, software or memory.
The old Dell 8400 looks like a write off. The video card is discrete but cannot be upgraded as it is an AGP model. I'll boot it in XP and see if it runs. Maybe I'll just wipe the HDD and junk it. Nice set of speakers and a decent LCD screen may stay.
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#13 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 04:29 PM

I think I have a couple AGP cards out back, Ray. Would that be troublesome to mail to Canada like the other stuff we talked about?

#14 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 07:38 PM

No need Eric. The AGP X300 card in the old Dell is working just fine - even has 3D support. Thanks anyway.
That said the Dell is quite a crash box - runs like a cement mixer. I plugged in a USB wifi dongle (Atheros) and it runs well with MX-16. I decided to go with MX 32 bit because it's old school and wifi works out of the box. I didn't want to bother running a 50 foot cable down to the basement to install Debian. This post is coming from a 12 year old Dell tank running Linux. It has 3 GB of RAM and I'm only using 380 MB with Firefox running. So Xfce works just fine.
The Core 2 Duo Acer is BA-AD. Its problem was not software as it started locking up with Linux as soon as I tried an install. I did quick checks on memory and HDD (passed) so I think it's a mobo issue - specifically the integrated video adapter. I used my Hiren's Boot Disk to wipe the HDD and it'll be on its way to the recycler.
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#15 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 07:38 AM

Well a closer look shows that the video card is actually a PCI-e model not AGP. AGP was on its way out in 2005 and this machine was pretty much cutting edge consumer technology back then.
However I'm not going to replace it with a newer model. Not worth it as the old card does have 3D capability enough for a desktop environment and uses the excellent Radeon FOSS driver. You are never going to play video games on this machine.
The X300SE card can handle a 1920X1080 display which would have been unheard of back in 2005.
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#16 OFFLINE   abarbarian

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 04:30 AM

View Postraymac46, on 01 July 2017 - 07:38 AM, said:

Well a closer look shows that the video card is actually a PCI-e model not AGP. AGP was on its way out in 2005 and this machine was pretty much cutting edge consumer technology back then.
However I'm not going to replace it with a newer model. Not worth it as the old card does have 3D capability enough for a desktop environment and uses the excellent Radeon FOSS driver. You are never going to play video games on this machine.
The X300SE card can handle a 1920X1080 display which would have been unheard of back in 2005.

You could play some very entertaining games running linux on that old bunny boiler.




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#17 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 09:08 PM

Well, this seems to be the week for museum pieces. My daughter turned up with her old laptop today. She got it in 2012, it's been replaced by something newer and faster. It has a broken hinge but you can carefully open it and it works.
Nice specs for Linux too. AMD Trinity A6 4400, 8 GB of RAM 500 GB HDD. I decided to install Antergos. When I booted the live ISO no wifi. It has one of those lovely Broadcom wifi chips. So I plugged in an Atheros based USB dongle and got right on line. After the install I had all the necessary firmware so the Broadcom chip is working just fine. This post is coming from it. I chose the Xfce Desktop.
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#18 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 09:15 PM

:thumbsup:
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#19 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 11:39 AM

Broadcom... ain't it wonderful!? :whistling:

#20 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 07:53 PM

Took the bezel off the laptop screen and it looks like the laptop hinge was just glued in place and came off. The hinge isn't broken but it sure looks like HP planned obsolescence. I have been busy with epoxy glue and clamps. We'll see how it goes. Maybe I can jury rig it a bit.
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#21 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 08:08 PM

View PostV.T. Eric Layton, on 05 July 2017 - 11:39 AM, said:

Broadcom... ain't it wonderful!? :whistling:
You never know with Broadcom. When I booted the Antergos Live ISO I had no wireless at all. I plugged in the Atheros based USB dongle and I was connected in seconds. Then the installer downloaded a bunch of stuff and after everything got installed and I rebooted, the Broadcom card was recognized and working.
If you get the proper firmware (non-free) you can usually get a Broadcom card to work.
The worst right now for me are Realtek USB mini dongles. TL-WN725N. I haven't been able to get them working in Linux at all. I heard that they might work with kernels newer than 4.8.

Edited by raymac46, 07 July 2017 - 08:12 PM.

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#22 OFFLINE   sunrat

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 08:53 PM

View Postraymac46, on 07 July 2017 - 08:08 PM, said:

The worst right now for me are Realtek USB mini dongles. TL-WN725N. I haven't been able to get them working in Linux at all. I heard that they might work with kernels newer than 4.8.
Did you try building the driver for it? -
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#23 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 08:05 AM

I have not but if I need to use one of these little guys in Linux I'll give it a try.
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#24 OFFLINE   raymac46

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 10:17 AM

Pah, the epoxy glue won't stick to the plastic in the lid. I'll just use some duct tape to hold the bezel and not open/close the unit. Aside from the hinge the unit runs well and is as good as any junker I have.
I have wiped the hard disks on the old 32 bit netbooks I have here and they are headed for the recycler. Also the old Dell Dimension 8400 isn't worth the aggravation so I'm going to wipe it and recycle it too.
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#25 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 05:57 PM

Broadcom's always been a bit of a pain in the rear echelon in Slackware. That's mostly why I don't like it. I'm a bit biased that way. ;)




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