Steven Rosenberg ran his first Linux distribution in January 2007, and has been blogging furiously about open-source operating systems ever since. Lately his main laptop, a resurrected Toshiba Satellite from about 2002, has been running OpenBSD 4.4 with the usual desktop applications.
Machines and operating systems I’m running right now
Power Macintosh G4/466: Debian Etch. The PowerPC build of Debian really, really, really likes this hardware. Everything autoconfigured perfectly. I have TWO 14.4 GB hard drives in the box, with one serving as a backup drive that I feed via rsync. (Tip: Ubuntu includes rsync in the default install, but you need to add it to Debian.) I have a sweet 22-inch LaCie CRT monitor. It must weigh 50 pounds, and it really fills up a desk. But it looks great. And 466 MHz of PowerPC in a Mac is way faster than 500 MHz in a garden-variety i386 box. Main problem: This box is VERY picky about what memory it will “accept.” Right now I have one 256MB and one 128MB module in there.
Maxspeed Maxterm: Debian Etch (converted thin client with ECS EVEm motherboard, VIA C3 CPU, 256 MB RAM and 4 GB Compact Flash module as the boot drive).
Gateway Solo 1450: Ubuntu 8.04 LTS dual-booting with CentOS 5.2. (This is now being used by our 5-year-old to play with Gcompris, Childsplay and TuxPaint. By the way, Debian’s packages of these three applications function better than those from Ubuntu, but Debian Lenny’s performance on the laptop just got worse and worse until it became unusable. CentOS — based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux — is super solid on this platform.)
Toshiba Satellite 1100-S101: OpenBSD 4.4 (dual-booting with Windows XP … just because it was there).
Sun Sparcstation 20: Yep, I finally found a 1995-vintage Sparc box to play with. Cost me all of $10 plus $15 shipping (and it’s the shipping that’ll kill you on this heavy old iron). It’s currently running OpenBSD 4.4. I have had NO luck whatsoever building ports on the box, and there are relatively few packages for desktop use. I don’t know if it’s the 2 GB hard drive that doesn’t have enough space, or just that these ports (Firefox, Seamonkey, Geany thus far) won’t build on a Sparc 32-bit box. The 2 GB drive is a bit of a limitation, so OpenBSD is ideal, but I might try NetBSD because it has a much bigger selection of precompiled packages for Sparc 32.
Compaq Armada 7770dmt: This 1999-era laptop maxes out at 144 MB of RAM. Its 233 MHz CPU is surprisingly effective. Currently running OpenBSD 4.2, and I’ve recently cleared enough software out of /usr to upgrade it in steps to 4.3 and 4.4.
Machines not yet in service recently recycled
I decided to get rid of these two PCs just to thin the herd a bit. I took both of them to Goodwill Industries, which in Southern California accept old electronic equipment that they either refurbish and resell or part out and recycle.
Dell Dimension 8100: This thing uses Rambus server memory, which is criminal. It also has a whiny power supply, meaning it whines when power is connected but the box isn’t powered up.
This Old PC: This white box sports a 333 MHz Pentium II MMX CPU and a maximum of 256 MB of RAM. It’s had a 10 GB hard drive with Windows 2000 on it for years, and I rarely power it up. It could be a great firewall, a lousy backup server, or just a curiosity. I’ll have to ponder.