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  1. #1
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    Resolved Ubuntu on an older computer

    Hey Linux gurus ! got a good question for ya.

    Okay, about once a year I get the latest Linux distro and goof around with it, and last year found a copy of Knoppix. I have large collection of older hardware, and I usually pic and choose what I think might run best, ie a Matrox G400, the best cpu I have etc.

    Last week I reformatted the old super socket 7 machine with 1 MB L2 cache and a K6 III+ overclocked to 550 MHz, two 128 MB modules of PC100, a CL Savage4 pro AGP 2x card, a CL PCI128 sound card, Toshiba 6x DVD drive, and a small Moxtor hard drive, enough to hold Ubuntu.

    To make a long story short, after a few glitches it loaded Ubuntu fine. The issue I am having is Firefox. Is is dog slow. Especially web pages with lots of flash like newegg, pcper, etc. Text only pages are okay. Using a good DSL connection, so that is not the issue.

    My question is, why is Firefox so slow ? I was under the impression Linux was not a resource hog and could run on older hardware with enough ram. 256 MB min from what I read. Is the Savage 4 2D that bad ? is it the drivers ? what would be a good card for an AGP x2 motherboard ?

    There are I am sure many others out there with older hardware, and I looked around a bit but no relevant answer, since most folks are using much more modern stuff. I however, am still old school, and was hoping Linux was too.

    Thanks in advance, J

  2. #2
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    Ubuntu is not the fastest distro around...
    In any case, there are many things you can do to speed it up, or you can switch to something that's going to be faster all around. (ie. Mandriva is MUCH faster than Ubuntu on my P-IIIm laptop, Puppy is SUPERFAST but not as feature filled.) Also, try a faster browser. Opera perhaps? The problem is that you're asking an old PC to display flash items which take a good amount of power to run by themselves. It's not really the OS's fault. It's just what flash requires.
    Just my $0.02

  3. #3
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    Actually, MHO, is that DSL connection is feeding more data than the box can handle at one time - I would suggest tweaking the tcp/ip stack - there is a good guide at http://www.speedguide.net.

    Out of the box, Linux TCP/IP stack sux balls - on all distro's - also set you FF cache to 80mb. and flush it on browser close.

    What you will be doing is increasing, dramatically your TCP window size, turning off Selective Acknowlegements, turning on Black hole detect, and a few others - the best way to do it is follow the guide that has it set all these settings on bootup.

    Now I'm not promising the world here, but it should make it bareable for you.

    Good Luck! .

  4. #4
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    thanks, I had not considered the DSL and network to be a factor. I will look that up tonight. I read the Mozilla.org browser version is a bit faster. Ya Opera is nice too, may try that. I wanted to change from 32 bit color to 16 hoping it would help the video card out, but I cannot find that anywhere, how can I do that in Ubuntu ?

  5. #5
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    /etc/X11/xorg.conf - edit with your favorite text editor.

  6. #6
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    thanks, so just type that in the terminal ? y use text editor ? as you can see, I am clueless about this.

  7. #7
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    hehe, do you have a GUI? If so use it click applications --> accessories --> text editor, then navigate to the /etc/X11 folder and open xorg.conf in there you will find a section called SCREEN - change the line that reads default depth to 16. Save and close the file.

    if you do it from a terminal it would be sudo su - <enter>
    enter your password <enter>
    cd /etc/X11 <enter>
    vim xorg.conf <enter> - or gedit xorg.conf <enter>(probably better off with gedit - VI or VIM is a little wierd to a new linux user.

    If you're uncomfortable with that click System --> Preferences --> Screen resolution, I think it will ask for your password, it will then bring up a GUI that you can use a ddbox to go from millions of colors, to thousands, etc.....save and close - change will take effect immediately.

    You are doing EXACTLY the same thing either way, in Linux, EVERYTHING is a file, your Hard drives, comm ports, parallel ports, and all can be edited to make changes - that is the BIGGEST learning curve that I had with Linux, currently my GUI in my DVD player locks up - so I just go edit the file directly to make any changes I want - hence the power of Linux, and beauty in my mind - total control over everything.
    Last edited by Jackal; 10-03-2007 at 08:30 PM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    thanks Jackal, and that is the next thing I want to fix, enable the movie player to play DVD. I tried the other night, used sudo to install libdvdread3. still says I need a plugin, so what is the best or easiest one ?

  9. #9
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    It was set to 16, may try another video card. If I swap it for a Matrox G400, X will prompt me when I reboot right ? PS I used the text editor, so I learned something from that exercise !

  10. #10
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    It will most likely have support for the Matrox Card built in-so I[m thinking it won't let you know anything.

    Congrats on using the editor! that's the BEST way to learn it, is just do it! It's always a good idea to make a backup copy 1st, just in cae, in the previouse excercise a simple cp xorg.conf xorg.conf.bak would have been great. - there is no 8 then . then 3 limit to linux naming conventions- so get real faimiliar to seeing really long goofy names.

    Software installs are almost always best handled by your update tool, in your case apt-get.

    You probably need to install a good player such as Kaffeine, or Xine - so here are your best commands

    apt-cache search xine or kaffeine
    when it finds the file you want:
    apt-get install <filename>

    then you'll need livdvdcss2

    so again apt-cache search libdvd will suffice
    apt-get install libdvdcss2.i386 - will most likely be the file for your architecnture - using your installer, will put the icons in the right place, in this case under applications ---> sound and video. And will "usually" resolve any "dependencies" that you need for you.

    Trying not to get too technical so as to scare you away, it almost happened to me. I'm soooo glad it didn't, I wouldn't waste shat on a windows install anymore! A little tip or two in a terminal window up arrow works like the old dos key, only better for remembering previously typed commands, and the <tab> key is your best friend - it will auto complete mid command - so long as there is a match for it to complete too.
    Last edited by Jackal; 10-03-2007 at 10:11 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    I'm a big fan of VLC, both in the Windows and Linux world - for multimedia and video playing. It's available in the various versions of Ubuntu software repositories (which are what you access when you use the apt-get commands).

  12. #12
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    thanks everyone ! hey Jackal you should be an author, write a book for beginners. Explain those tips in a simple to understand way for us beginners !
    I have seen many books, but most still confuse me. I think it is best to explain WHY you are doing something, and what it means in the bigger picture.

    Will try yours and Hubris ideas in few.

    Thanks, J

  13. #13
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    Thank you for the compliment, it's probably b/c I'm still a beginner myself, and I've been using Linux for about 3 years.

    And yes you're exactly right, my one biggest complaint is that most documentation for Linux is SO technical, all it really does is make your head spin, that's why these forums are so great !

    1 more tip for you - man(ual) is a useful tool, for example type man apt <enter> it will pull up a scrollable manual page on "most" commands, man hdparm, man mount, man ifconfig, are a few more - but as you move along and need more info on the command line switches and what they do man pages are usually pretty good.

    when the man page is up, pressing enter moves down 1 line at a time, space bar one page at a time, when you get to a place where you're done reading or the bottom of the manual "q" (no quotes) escapes you out.
    Last edited by Jackal; 10-04-2007 at 01:11 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    update: got the video card switched out. The G400 is a far superior card, much faster than the savage4. Matrox 2D is second to none. Maybe the SGRAM helped some. Now for the DVD playback, hope this machine can run a friggin movie !

    PS Ubuntu set up the 16 MB G400 as 800x600, and that is as high as I can get it to go. Very strange. It does have it set to 24 bit by default. Seems like I had it at 1024x768 when I tried Knoppix. Ideas ?

  15. #15
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    Re: Ubuntu on an older computer

    Those Matrix cards didn't game worth a darn, but they do 2D as well as if not better than any other card.

    Good luck with your project. I'm thinking of doing something similar on my old Epox MVP3G-2 K6-2/550 with a 32meg Diamond Viper 770. Gonna load Dos 5.0 and all of the old Windows versions (1, 2, and 3), GEOS, and Corel Linux on it just for the heck of it.
    R.I.P Brad (BWM). You will be missed.

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