Resurrect that old PC with Puppy Linux

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You have an old PC, and it's not really up to running XP, so what do you do?

Try and find that old copy of win 98 you *know* you have somewhere, and install that? It's a possibility, but the chances of it picking up the hardare automatically are pretty slim to non existant - and don't even think about using USB with 98, it doesn't know what it is, unless you can find a driver. So you might get 98 to install, but with no sound, no USB and no ethernet driver to get on the internet via broadband. Not looking good, is it?

Give it away to charity or 'freecycle' it?  You could do, but if little Johnny or Jane, the lodger or whoever wants a bit of computer time and the main PC is occupied, what do you do?

Utilise the old one, but forget about Windows 98, there's a better (and much safer) alternative in Puppy Linux

Linux is a free 'open source' operating system, that you can download from the internet, burn to a CD and use it.

Puppy and a lot of other Linux versions come as 'live' CD's which means it runs entirely from the CD and doesn't need to be installed to the hard drive. In fact you can use it without any hard drive at all.

There's enough info on the puppy site to help with 'burning' it to CD, so I won't repeat it here. What I will say is look for the "community edition"  Puppy 2.15 CE to be precise. It's about 100 MB and the only difficulties you might have is a) burning an ISO if you've never done it before and b) changing the BIOS of the PC to boot to CD first, so you can use Puppy in the first place.  It's not that difficult a task and if you're lucky, the PC might be set up to boot CD first already.

Assuming you've got past the first two hurdles of burning the CD and setting the BIOS to boot it - you're ready to take Puppy for a spin.

All the difficulties I mentioned that might (will actually) happen with 98 don't apply to Puppy. It will pick up the majority of your hardware for you but other bits may need minor setup wizards to be run. USB will be available too. It has some very good wizards to follow and you'll soon be enjoying the marvels of a live Linux CD. One of the things to maximise it finding your graphics and monitor, is to use 'Vesa' at first. You can try setting it up properley with 'Xorg' later, but to get you up and running in the quickest time - use Vesa.

What can I do with Puppy? What can't you do, would be more appropriate. You can surf the net, chat on an MSN type messenger program - that will let you use your existing MSN sign in (or Yahoo, AIM, ICQ etc as well, all from the same program) Send receive emails. Burn CD's, watch DVD's, dabble with art programs, do basic office type stuff like word processing and spreadsheets.  And the biggest bonus is no threats from windows based nasties. No virus checkers required, no anti everything software either. This is not Windows, so you can't catch Windows malware/spyware/adware/trojans/worms/viruses.

Check it out, guaranteed satisfaction or your money back !   That's because it's free ;o)

And because it's live, nothing is stored - unless you choose to, so it's the ultimate privacy tool too.

You don't have to use an old PC either, it will work on your main PC without touching Windows

Puppy can salvage that old PC back into a useful tool again, but it's not a miracle worker. I would say the minimum specs required would be a Pentium 2 400 with 128 MB RAM, although ideally 256 MB RAM or more is better, but for the price, it's worth giving it a go
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