View Full Version : 486 and OS alternatives

11th February 2002, 03:16
I got a free 486SX/25 (8 MB, 810 MB, 3Com Eth III) last week. What OS alternatives there are? I know of these:

DOS (6.22 etc)
Windows (3.11) + DOS
Windows 95 (barely)
Windows 98 (yeah, right !!)
OS/2 Warp 3.0
BeOS 5
Linux (all kinds of different distros)

DOS is good, if you just want to play some old games (which, BTW, are good :) ). Windows 95 might run, but I don't like Windows at all, so it's not really an option. I bought OS/2 Warp 3.0 some five or six years ago for about 10 (pretty good). I'm not at all sure if BeOS will run, but I'll give it a try some day.

It may be that I'll install Linux and enjoy. It's propably the [i]only[i] alternative ;).

(Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. There's also GEOS. I've only heard the name and I know it's been used in Nokia Communicator 9000, but I also heard there's a PC version.)

Steve Snyder
11th February 2002, 20:22
Don't even thing about Win95/98/98SE/98/ME. My sister-in-law is running Win98SE on a system with a 486/100 and 64MB of RAM. It is *painfully* slow.

Forget OS/2 Warp as well. I used to run that (v3.0, the same that you referred to, not Warp Connect) on a 486/33 machine and it was baaaad! I don't recall how much RAM I had on that machine, but I'm pretty sure it was more than the 8MB you've got in your paleo-box.

Believe me, you will spend you life running in virtual memory if you try any of the OSs above.

Regarding Linux: you might get so-so performance from the box, but installation is another matter. Most (all?) of the major distros won't let you install on only 8MB of RAM. Sure, you can run the OS with that kind of memory contraint, but running the installer is another matter. RedHat, for example, requires 32MB to install. You only have 2 options here: borrow another 24MB from a friend, or install your target hard disk in another machine and do the install there. There are micro distros available, but I'm not familiar with them

When I say that Linux will get you so-so performance I mean of course that you're not being absurd about the applications you run. Anything disk intensive is out of the question. Not only is that ancient hard disk slow, but you don't have the RAM to do decent disk caching. Anything memory intensive is out as well for obvious reasons. A few workable applications might be a firewall, a caching nameserver for a home network, or as a Secure SHell gateway.

You'd be in a much better position, Linux-wise, if you had more RAM. BTW, I see on PriceWatch that 16MB FPM SIMMs are going for 5 (yes, five) U.S. dollars. Hint, hint.

Hope this helps.

11th February 2002, 23:00
windows CE is supposed to give reasonable perfomance on 486's.

but a good version of linux with a 486 kernel would be quite good.
Mandrake has 486 version of linux mandrake 7.1.
and there are some nice light weight x servers available as well.


12th February 2002, 09:00
You'd be in a much better position, Linux-wise, if you had more RAM. BTW, I see on PriceWatch that 16MB FPM SIMMs are going for 5 (yes, five) U.S. dollars. Hint, hint

Check my other thread (http://forums.murc.ws/showthread.php?s=&threadid=31233) in the general hard/soft ware concerning my memory :) .

I already decided what I should do and installed Slackware 8.0. Took me whole day to install, mostly because I had 32x Creative (yes, it is 32x, but when the CD warms up, it reads only 0.5x). It runs fine, but I uninstalled X immediately after I first tested it. Didn't run smoothly at all, no.

I'll propably make it a DCHP server and a firewall and share my Internet connection with it. I only have one other computer, so I presume it can handle that much traffic. At least it'll give me some experience.