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best puppy for very old computer
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eskimo

Joined: 08 Apr 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun 08 Apr 2012, 14:49    Post subject: Installing Puppy via floppy-boot  

Hi,

I apologize if I'm adding my question to a wrong thread but I haven't found anything more suitable (was looking for a topic named "best puppy for very very very old computer" without success Smile

I would like to try some Puppy with my very old computer - Pentium 120, 64 MB RAM, 1.6 GB HDD, S3 Trio 64V+ PCI graphics, TEAC 24x CD-ROM drive, MissMelody-compatible ISA sound card, a PCI network card, Award BIOS (and no USB support).

The PC was completely unemployed for quite a long time - I didn't turn it on a single time during the last 3-4 years and other 3-4 years before that I was using it very rarely. At the time when it was still in active service (1996-2004) the PC was running Windows 95 SR2, which is still installed there but I would like to replace it with Puppy and see what I'll get - I'd like to try this as the last step before I throw the PC away as completely useless (browsing today's web with IE 4.0 preinstalled in Win95 is not funny).

Reading quickly through PuppyLinux websites I learnt that the puppy I should want to install and that could work with my old machine is Wary Puppy. So I downloaded the ISO image of the latest 5.3 WaryPuppy, burnt it to a CD, set the boot sequence in BIOS to "CDROM,C,A" and tried to boot... unfortunately it didn't work - although the BIOS made an attempt to boot from the CD-ROM (it displayed some 2 lines of something like "Booting from CD-ROM"), the attempt wasn't successful (the 3rd line was "Starting Windows 95")... since there is no USB support in the PC, I can't boot Puppy via USB either (actually, there are a few unused pins in the motherboard that its manual claims to be USB but they've never been connected to anything and I don't think they would work because at the time when the motherboard was born USB 1.1 was not yet standardized, not sure about USB 1.0)

To make a long story short, I'm looking for a way to boot Wary Puppy installer from a floppy drive or to use some Windows- or DOS-based installer of Wary Puppy that would allow me to install it to HDD and to use it first alongside and afterwards (if I'm happy with it) instead of current Windows 95. I searched and searched on the website, in forums but I didn't find any information related to booting from floppy Sad

Could somebody please help me with this? Thanks in advance!
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2407
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun 08 Apr 2012, 16:47    Post subject: Re: Installing Puppy via floppy-boot  

eskimo wrote:

I would like to try some Puppy with my very old computer - Pentium 120, 64 MB RAM, 1.6 GB HDD, S3 Trio 64V+ PCI graphics, TEAC 24x CD-ROM drive, MissMelody-compatible ISA sound card, a PCI network card, Award BIOS (and no USB support).
I downloaded the ISO image of the latest 5.3 WaryPuppy, burnt it to a CD, set the boot sequence in BIOS to "CDROM,C,A" and tried to boot... unfortunately it didn't work - although the BIOS made an attempt to boot from the CD-ROM "Starting Windows 95")

I don't think you need to drop back to a floppy boot. It almost sounds as if the CD drive could not find a valid "image" on the CD. Did you do a "burn as image", rather than as a file? That is a common issue, especially if it the "burn as image" feature is not clearly defined within your burning programmes options. I think your machine only proceeded to boot the W95 because it saw no valid boot data on the CD.

Also, it could have been a bad burn. It is worth re-burning the CD at the lowest speed possible. (The laser gets better dye penetration at lower speeds.)

If you have no joy with Wary, it would probably be worth going back to some of the earlier versions of Puppy. (they were fine-tuned for machines without a lot of power)

I’d recommend downloading the 4.3.1 iso available here:
http://ftp.nluug.nl/ftp/pub/os/Linux/distr/puppylinux/puppy-4.3.1/

and also downloading fatfree pup 2.17 here:
http://www.fileswap.com/dl/PBz6SgIf6J/puppy-fat-free-pup-2.17.iso

Another one that gives good performance on low powered PCs is Gray’s Puppy NOP 431, available here:
http://puppylinuxstuff.meownplanet.net/NOP/puppy-431-NOP.iso (you may need a username of puppy and a password of linux)

Keen to hear how it goes.
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sfeeley

Joined: 14 Feb 2010
Posts: 807

PostPosted: Sun 08 Apr 2012, 16:53    Post subject:  

@eskimo

Quote:
To make a long story short, I'm looking for a way to boot Wary Puppy installer from a floppy drive


If you can boot the CD on another computer (that has a floppy drive), you can go to
menu --> setup --> wakepup

which creates a boot floppy that will convince your other older computer to read the CD drive.
http://www.puppylinux.com/hard-puppy.htm
(scroll down for the description of wakepup)

You might also look up the lin-n-win installation method, which uses windows to install puppy.
http://www.icpug.org.uk/national/linnwin/contents.htm

There are also programs that do the lin-n-win automatically (I've not used but here's the thread)
http://208.109.22.214/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=61404&sid=404bfabcb4660b56fdb4e0efc6d0c503

you can also yank the harddrive, stick it into a better computer, install puppy there, and then move the harddrive back. Puppy can switch between computers like that. And on really old computers (like yours) sometimes, its better to use a faster CPU/more Ram to get it installed.

Also, look up the process for making a swap partition (or swap file). Both are ways of giving virtual memory to to Ram deficient computers by using your harddrive as virtual ram (its like a paging file in windows). If you can dig up some cheap ram somewhere, that would be best, since your computer is pretty near the bottom of what will run.
(You add a swap partition using the gparted program which is part of puppy linux-- again switching the drive to a faster machine might help to do this).

And take a look at some of the other puppy suggestions in this thread. Wary is a good place to start, but some of the others might have better luck.
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Monsie


Joined: 01 Dec 2011
Posts: 633
Location: Kamloops BC Canada

PostPosted: Mon 09 Apr 2012, 03:31    Post subject: best puppy for a very old computer  

Hi eskimo,

I have a similar computer (1997 Windows 95 model) that is still in use today...
Therefore, I am quite certain that you will have to use WakePup as sfeeley suggested to boot Puppy from a floppy disk. Given the age of your computer, I would also suggest an older version of Puppy: Puppy 2.17 which you can get right here or fatfree pup 2.17 as greengeek suggested which is available over here. The reason is that newer Puppies especially Wary Puppy require 256 mb of ram. That said, I also recommend that you shop for some used ram: two sticks of 72 pin EDO ram @ 32 mb each, to hopefully bring you up to the maximum of 128 mb ram that your computer should take... assuming that you have four slots with 32 mb of ram in each slot. Lastly, I recommend that you partition your hard drive to include a swap file of 128 -256 mb of space.

Complete these requirements, and you should be able to resuscitate your old Pentium 1 such that it will perform reasonably well.

Monsie

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Dewbie

Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 1783

PostPosted: Mon 09 Apr 2012, 04:02    Post subject:  

Monsie wrote:
Quote:
The reason is that newer Puppies especially Wary Puppy require 256 mb of ram.

For frugal installation, that is:
http://puppylinux.org/main/Manual-English.htm#Manual05
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2407
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon 09 Apr 2012, 15:37    Post subject: Re: Installing Puppy via floppy-boot  

eskimo wrote:

...(browsing today's web with IE 4.0 preinstalled in Win95 is not funny).
...at the time when the motherboard was born USB 1.1 was not yet standardized, not sure about USB 1.0)

Yes, these are the biggest limitations. It will be interesting to see what benefits Puppy gives you on this hardware.

Another Puppy that is worth trying on hardware like this is MeanPuppy (developed by John Murga, who runs this forum), available here:

http://www.my-plan.org/storage/puppyLinux/
(The iso will be titled puppy-2.02-opera)

It is the most fully featured tiny iso that I have found and includes a self-installer for the opera browser.

Although the Puppy OS is easily light enough to run on your hardware the main problem you are likely to see is that the internet today requires a lot from the browser, and browsers are memory hogs. Puppy has a wide choice of browsers, and you can go as light or as heavy as you want.

The version of Opera that comes within Meanpuppy is a good start.

As others suggested, the more memory you can fit, the better off you will be.

One of the main benefits puppy offers over W95 is full USB support, but as you have pointed out, that won't bring you any benefit on your motherboard. (Unless maybe you can find a header cable that is compatible with those pins you mentioned...)
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eskimo

Joined: 08 Apr 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon 09 Apr 2012, 15:52    Post subject:  

Hi again,

thanks to everybody for their help and advice... I read through all of them and tried some of them and I was (partly) successful in the end.

First I burnt a new bootable CD with WaryPuppy 5.3 at 16x (got a good-quality Verbatim CD-RW medium for that - previously I had used a cheap noname CD-R) and tried booting the old machine from it - without success. The only difference when compared with the previous CD was a different message preceding the "Starting Windows 95" one - now it was "Boot from ATAPI CD-ROM: Failure..." whereas before it said "Boot from ATAPI CD-ROM: 1.FD (some unreadable characters) SystemType-00".

Then, as a second step, I attempted to boot my newer machine (AMD Athlon 2500XP) from the Wary Puppy 5.3 CD-RW - the OS launched without any problems so I could put aside the option that something's wrong with the CD - the problem was clearly caused by the fact that the old machine was incapable of booting from a CD-ROM (although its BIOS claims that it should be able to do it). Therefore I tried to create a WakePup2 bootable floppy - and here I came upon something which might be a bug in WaryPuppy 5.3 (but it can as well be just that I did something wrongly) - after choosing Menu/Setup/WakePup I got a message saying that WakePup was not installed and that I should install it via PET install (or what was the name of the installation tool). So I downloaded and installed a package named "wakepup2-20070919" (there were no other wakepups available), the installer said that all was OK but when I chose Menu/Setup/WakePup nothing at all happened. I tried uninstalling the WakePup, downloading it again from a different mirror, but the result was the same...

Since I suspected that the problem with wakepup2 could be that - being built in 2007 - it was no longer compatible with the recent WaryPuppy 5.3, I erased the CD-RW and re-burnt it with pup-431.iso. And it turned out that my suspicion might be right because this time after installing wakepup2-20070919 I was finally able to create a bootable floppy. And the floppy boot worked with my old PC. Moreover, it worked for both 4.3.1 Puppy and WaryPuppy 5.3 (I still kept the first cheap CD-R with Wary).

Yet I can't quite say that I'm too satisfied with the result because the full boot took 5-10 minutes (I hope, though, that after I'll properly install some Puppy to the HDD the startup won't take so long anymore) and I came across other difficulties - e.g. serial mouse didn't work (fortunately I found working the PS/2 mouse socket in the old PC that I had always thought had never worked) and Puppy couldn't find the sound card installed in the PC (I would think that this is a result of the card being ISA some manual configuration/tweaking could be needed). I also found strange that the Puppy launched in console and I had to manually type "startx" to get to the GUI (could be that the installer wanted to indicate to me that way that X wouldn't work with such old machine - it worked, though). But what surprised me most was that I didn't find 4.3.1 Puppy any quicker than its 5.3 Wary brother. So perhaps I should look for something older than 4.3.1 ? Maybe I'll try the fatfree 2.17 next(?) Or the MeanPuppy?

Now I think I'm gonna put this Puppy experiment of mine aside for a while and I'll return to it sometime later... but of course, if any ideas that you think might be useful for me come to your mind in the meantime, please write them down here for me... Thanks!
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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2407
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon 09 Apr 2012, 16:17    Post subject:  

eskimo wrote:

Now I think I'm gonna put this Puppy experiment of mine aside for a while and I'll return to it sometime later... but of course, if any ideas that you think might be useful for me come to your mind in the meantime, please write them down here for me... Thanks!


Hey, nice work. Very detailed feedback. I think you are right that an install would greatly improve speed. If you come back to the project I'd probably still give the MeanPup a try. Some of the older, more lightweight stuff was optimised for lower memory machines.
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Dewbie

Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 1783

PostPosted: Mon 09 Apr 2012, 19:07    Post subject:  

eskimo wrote:
Quote:
(got a good-quality Verbatim CD-RW medium for that - previously I had used a cheap noname CD-R)

Don't pay too much attention to the brand name on the package.
If you use Puppy's built-in Pburn, it shows who actually manufactured it.

Quote:
Yet I can't quite say that I'm too satisfied with the result because the full boot took 5-10 minutes

Wary 5.1.1 k2.6.30.5 (the 4.3.1 kernel) boots quickly on my old Compaq Deskpro P2 / 350 / 320 MB RAM.
I tried it today on a Dell Dimension P4 / 2.2 / 1.5G RAM, and booting is unbelievably slow.
(Edit: It might be because the Dell has a CD-ROM and the Compaq has a CD burner, which apparently operates at a higher speed.)

Last edited by Dewbie on Wed 13 Jun 2012, 16:34; edited 1 time in total
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Dewbie

Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 1783

PostPosted: Mon 09 Apr 2012, 19:31    Post subject:  

greengeek wrote:
Quote:
Some of the older, more lightweight stuff was optimised for lower memory machines.

http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?t=65544
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sfeeley

Joined: 14 Feb 2010
Posts: 807

PostPosted: Tue 10 Apr 2012, 10:42    Post subject:  

Quote:
I hope, though, that after I'll properly install some Puppy to the HDD the startup won't take so long anymore


definitely will. Puppy tries to load as much from the CD into ram at boot. On a slow CD Rom on a slow computer this can take a lot of time. But will be much faster from HD.
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Burn_IT


Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 958
Location: Tamworth UK

PostPosted: Tue 10 Apr 2012, 11:18    Post subject:  

That 5-10 minutes is a very long time.
My guess would be that it was struggling to read the CD. Either the CD is "dirty" or, more likely, the reader in that machine is iffy. There could be dust/dirt on the lenses or it may be so old it is struggling to read the narrower tracks on a new CD.
Often, if an old machine won't read a CD, you can get round it by WRITING another CD at just 4x rather than at a higher speed.

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greengeek

Joined: 20 Jul 2010
Posts: 2407
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue 10 Apr 2012, 14:06    Post subject:  

eskimo wrote:
First I burnt a new bootable CD with WaryPuppy 5.3 at 16x

Burn_IT wrote:
...or it may be so old it is struggling to read the narrower tracks on a new CD. if an old machine won't read a CD, you can get round it by WRITING another CD at just 4x rather than at a higher speed

I had a lot of problems with reading CDRs on older machines till I dropped to 4x burning. Burning at 16x does seem too fast and if your burner supports 4x that is definitely the way to go. Any drive that reads it still has the option of reading at high speed if it can manage it without errors. Didn't know about the narrower tracks. I wonder when they started doing that?

I also think faster burns can increase the number of "buffer underrun glitches" that get written to a CDR when the system speed can't keep up with the rate of date transfer during burning. Old drives don't seem to like what the underrun technology does to the CD track.
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Burn_IT


Joined: 12 Aug 2006
Posts: 958
Location: Tamworth UK

PostPosted: Tue 10 Apr 2012, 15:59    Post subject:  

The narrower tracks are a result of using higher speed lasers to write the disk. In order to be able to read/write at higher speeds the laser has to be focussed more tightly so that the errors caused by "leakage" from the adjacent track is minimised.
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eskimo

Joined: 08 Apr 2012
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun 15 Apr 2012, 07:31    Post subject: the story continues...  

Hi,

yesterday I found some time to play with my very old PC and Puppy again. First I tried downloading the MeanPup iso recommended by greengeek - burnt it to a mini-CD-RW at 4x (I found it rather difficult to get a CD-R that would accept as low a burning speed as 4x) and tried booting from the CD in the old PC. No luck - I'm beginning to think that booting from any CD is simply impossible with that machine.

So my next step was of course the WakePup floppy. Unfortunately, this didn't work either - the wakepup floppy I had created with Puppy 4.3.1 the previous week couldn't find MeanPup on the CD and boot it Sad I had hoped that it was enough to have a single WakePup floppy that can then be used to boot any Puppy from the CD (I thought so since I was able to boot WaryPuppy 5.3 with WakePup floppy created by Puppy 4.3.1). Do you think creating another WakePup floppy directly in MeanPup could help me to get over this?

Anyway, finding the floppy boot incompatible with MeanPup, I returned to WaryPuppy 5.3 and tried experimenting with that. I partitioned my HDD following the manual in puppylinux.org (I found "GParted" a very nice tool, btw.) and then performed a full installation of Wary Puppy to the HDD (/dev/sda2). I also installed the GRUB boot manager to be able to boot either Win95 or WaryPuppy (btw. I wondered - what is the difference between GRUB and GRUBDOS and which one is better?)

I was anxious to see how quick the HDD-boot of WaryPuppy would be when compared with the 5-10 mins long WakePup+CD live boot... and I found out that it was definitely quicker, although the boot behaviour was pretty strange - after choosing "Puppy Linux" from the GRUB boot menu, "Starting up..." was displayed for almost exactly 1.5 mins and during that time the computer seemed to be waiting for something (but there was no HDD activity or anything like that). Then, suddenly, the booting resumed (or started) pretty quickly and it took no more than another 1.5 mins until WaryPuppy was completely booted. Well, now I don't know what causes the 1.5 mins lag - should I blame GRUB or WaryPuppy for it? I would think that something might be wrong with GRUB config but I've no idea what it could be (and then, Windows 95 boot without any delay when selected from GRUB).

The performance of WaryPuppy itself was not as slow as I had been afraid of, however, when I tried to launch the SeaMonkey browser, the whole system hanged and only hard reboot helped (well, here I blame myself for this because I answered Yes to the question whether to install Adobe Flash Player - perhaps I shouldn't have done that - unfortunately, now I don't know how to get rid of it to see whether it causes the hang or if it is the SeaMonkey browser itself)...

The thing, which upset me most, was that WaryPuppy somehow couldn't cope with my ES1868 sound card - immediately after installation it didn't discover any sound cards. So I tried the ALSA Sound Wizard, which discovered the card - in the list there was the item "es18xx: ESS ES 1868 Plug and Play AudioDrive" (which is exactly the sound card I have) three times, then there was "legacy: Probe: legacy ISA (non-PnP) chips" once and two more items that were irrelevant (something with USB and with Apple). I tried selecting and installing the driver for each of the three "es18xx" items one after another but none of them worked (the wizard always said that the driver was successfully installed and that I can play sample.wav but in the end no sound could be heard). Then I tried choosing the "legacy ISA (non-PnP)" option - although the card is declared as PnP - selecting all compatible options offered - two ESS's, SoundBlaster and SoundBlaster Pro (the documentation of the sound card says it's 100% compatible with both SB and SBPro) - and choosing "Yes" to the question of trying all possible combinations of IRQ/DMA - the wizard ended with "Not Found" message. The sound card itself can't be broken because in Win95 it plays OK. Searching this forum I've found a description of a similar problem here: http://murga-linux.com/puppy/viewtopic.php?search_id=1961109443&t=32774 - it's not exactly the same thing because the sound card there is ES1888 whereas I have ES1868 but indicates that ESS sound cards are something that Puppy is not a good friend of. According to the post, the only solution seems to be hacking "modprob.conf" - only I don't know how I should hack it. Any good advice on this, please?

I'm happy at least with the fact that I managed to get a serial mouse working with Puppy, because the old motherboard in the PC appears to be fighting with a PS2 mouse (every now and then it stops working). But I've been wondering - is there a way how to set the mouse to serial _before_ the X-Window starts? It is not easy to start the mouse wizard in X-Window just with keyboard (tried navigating with Tab-key like in MS Windows but wasn't successful).

OK, I see I've written too much already... I think I'll get back to Puppy again the next weekend - looking fwd to your comments in the meantime Smile
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