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High Tech Junk 340

Keepiru writes "Where do old computers go? No one knows for sure, but I suspect half of them are hiding in the closets of slashdot users. " Interesting problem. Comments that many people might buy new (and throw away their old) computers come Y2k bugs, and talks about the PCs 18 month life span. Course those 18 month old boxes are still bitchin' linux desktops, but they just don't have the same sparkle as that dual xeon box either.
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High Tech Junk

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  • I don't see that coming out untill 2001.

    Haven't you heard? Windows 2000 has been delayed due to Y2K problems, and won't ship until the first quarter of 1901? :-)

    Wind and temp at my house []

  • Not to sound like a flame, but: I set up a complete router in one evening, ipmasq, ipchains, dhcp, web (yeah, I worked real hard to set that up), dns, sendmail, and pop (again, real hard). My method of attack was to move to the /usr/doc/HOWTO directory and read all of the information about what I wanted to do. Then, I followed the instructions, occasionally reading some man pages. It was incredibly easy (and cool). I haven't set up port forwarding, but I doubt that it is very difficult. Probably just a matter of R-ingTFM.
  • I had an IBM PCJunior back when I was a young pup. (Learned DOS at the ripe old age of six.) Unfortunately the thing inexplicably up and died one day and was reduced to basement storage. A flood destroyed the little CGA monitor that came with it. So I hung the little board up in my room and used the little case to store books/paper/notebooks in.

    I've got several other beasts that died in other ways (and became wall art) and have some stray parts hanging around, with which I'm building a 486-DX2/66 with 8MB RAM, and a 50MB hard disk. This might become my parents' machine for surfing the web and doing a small amount of word processing.

    I loathe Windows, and I'm a little scared of unleashing my parents on Linux, but am also very short on cash. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good drool-proof OS?

  • a lot of places like the goodwill will take your old machines and give you a tax credit for it (if you use something other than the 1040ez for tax purposes. or you could contact me. i take everyone's old machines, salvage what i can and toss the old rusted hulks that remain. because of this i currently have five ancient machines, four of which run linux (not counting my k6/2 333 (the fifth is a dedicated music composition machine)); and hopefully several more to be built.
    or you could take around 300 386s and make a beowulf cluster that would run about as fast as a p5 200 8^).
  • Yes! This is a great use for old computers. My old laptop is a Thinkpad 486/33 with 12 megs ram. It's got Redhat 4.0 installed on it and Samba, and nothing else. It runs all the time, uses less power than an equivalent desktop computer, and it fits right underneath my printer in the paper rack.

    That little beast has absolutely no trouble at all printing graphics files that are megabytes huge, and it's even doing a magical conversion from postscript to HPII printer language. For a while it was even a puny client! 45,000 keys a second isn't really worth it though.

    From the stellar print server performance of that machine I have NO DOUBT AT ALL that even an old 386/20 computer would perform just as well as a print server. Just for laughs give it a try. I bet you'll find that that old slow box and Linux/Samba will be more than up to the job.

  • Uh....
    if it's all in asm you can run DEBUG.EXE to disassemble it.

    Opcode-to-instruction translations are literal. It's the instruction-to-C (or whatever) that poses a problem, because different optimizing algorithms and compilers might make the same high-level construct into different assembly-level instructions.
  • I have a number of old machines in my collection, and they all do something useful on the home lan. My main machines are my Sun Ultra 30 and my powerbook G3, but I have an old NeXT cube which acts as a mailserver, a NeXTstation colour turbo wfor a printserver & backup fileserver, an old 486/66 as a router, and an sgi indy for a webserver.

    There's 4 or 5 other machines sitting around, but those are the main ones...
  • What the UofM Engineering Department did [] is a great example of where old hardware goes, and how it's still useful.
  • I have a TI-85 (and a TI-92, but that's besides the point.). Much better than the '82. I still remember spending half my time in 8th grade science class coding in TI-Basic. :) I wrote a slot machine game, and super-enhanced Arkanoid. Remember that arkanoid-type game that everyone had (it was from TI, I think)? By the time I was done with it, it had like 5-10 new levels and 3 different styles of blocks! :) I think I may have also optimized it for speed (not playing speed, program speed).

    After 8th grade, I got a TI-Graph Link and discovered games on the Internet that were written in assembler. :)
  • Here's what a friend of mine did as a router with a 486 []

  • I have one Sun 3/50 with mouse, keyboard, hard drives, tape drives, SCSI cables, and manuals if anyone wants a boat anchor. As far as I know it works. It even has a whopping 4MB of RAM and integrated 10Mbps Ethernet and reportedly there is a port of Linux to it. If nothing else, it has some cool LEDs on it.

    I dunno, I just can't bring myself to toss a computer into the trash... I wonder if it is recyclable?
  • a 486 runs anything from DOS to Linux, even win95.

    That's from a technical point of view, micros~1 licenses cost probably more than the computer itself, but there you go...

    Why I am mentioning DOS?
    DOS+DJGPP was the platform I started to do image processing on. A 486DX2-66 with 8Mb RAM... That was in 95. Actually, I used TC too, but extended/expanded memory scheme was just not for me :-)
    So how much time do you think it takes to do adaptive equalisation on a 640x640 image, using a DX2? I'd say about 15s...
    Okay, you need to do a bit of thinking, be familiar with hand optimisation and the like (loop unrolling and early loop breaking anyone? ;) but think about it! I'm sure if I tried the same using IDL [] or matlab (sorry, I meant PDL and octave) I'd get worse results on my PII-400...

    The key is, it takes much more than a computer degree to do real optimisation by hand, it takes time... and who's willing to take the time?

    What about Linux? (this is /. after all)
    Well, Linux router [] allows you to do routing stuff all on one floppy. It works great on a 486, eventhough it may be a little slow a computer to do caching DNS and masquerading at the same time :-) (I'm switching to a Pentium 133 - 16Mb RAM)

    So there you go, old computers are great if you can find some use for them... did I mention I love to program Z80 assembly on my Amstrad CPC6128? ;-)


  • unfortunately the only thing (except linux) is to suck it up and put windows on it. red hat would be a good start for your parents though, as it is reasonably user friendly. you could always try to find a copy of os/2 somewhere. its about as friendly as windows 3.x, not microsoft, and relatively crashproof (and when it does crash you get a familiar looking bsod!). or you could put dos 6.22 on it and run the klos ppp dialer/stack (or a better one) and use 'arachne' as a web browser. it is fully graphical and works great if you can get klos correctly set up (it took me nearly a week).

    for the dos stuff check out
  • It's easy to run Windows 1.0 even on a modern computer. Just remember to use setver, because older versions of Windows need to think they're using MS-DOS 3.20 or so.

    Try something like this:

    SETVER WIN100.BIN 3.20

    It runs on my machine under DOSEmu, and it'll also run under a DOS box in Windows. Incidentally, the file format for write was essentially the same back then...
  • I have an old 486, what can I do with it thou?
  • This is something I've been thinking about for quite a while now: Artistic computers. Yesterday's article about plexiglas cases was pretty nifty, but I had been thinking about cases made out of other stuff. Wood, for instance. And what about a furry router? Or a mail server with spikes sticking out of it? These could all be great machines, except for a minor detail: I'm not really willing to spend a zillion dollars trying to build such machines. Sure, 50 bucks, that I'll spend. But not, say, $3000 for PIII based components or $1500 for AMD based. (I love Amd)

    I've been lurking about on ebay and I've found that 386 and 486 machines could easily be built for less than $100. Unfortunately, I'm moving soon and won't be able to bid on any of *those* particular machines/processors. But, I still think this could potentially make a great business, of sorts. Art-deco machines which are hooked to monitors which display things which are themed to the look of the machine. A wooden box running Enlightenment with a 'wooden' theme. A box which is covered in fur running some sort of Furby theme. Or, a box made of brushed-looking metal which has a sort of 'industrial' theme.

    Further, Imagine the amazing stuff you could do with $1000, some time, and Beowulf or HA!? A high-availability cluster of 10 486s serving static web pages may sound vaguely lame... Until you consider that they could probably handle 25,000,000 pageviews a month. That's a whole lotta pages.

    But, before I can implement any of these ideas, I need the machines. If any of you need to ditch old machines and want to put them to being an artistic expression using Beowulf/HA/Linux, drop me a line.,

    --Johnny Wales
  • Let me see, how many older machines are floating around my house and what am I doing with them...
    1. Very old Toshiba 286 luggable:
      Gathering dust in the closet. The orange Gas Discharge display has some dark lines in it, and it can only run DOS anyway, so forget it.

    2. Old 386 laptop:
      I installed Slackware on it; I have used it for text editing on trips but it has power-on problems, currently sitting in the trunk of my car.

    3. Old 386 desktop:
      Cannibalized for parts (I am using it's 3.5" floppy on my current main machine).

    4. Another old 386 desktop:
      Given to my 7 yr. old son to play games on in it's retirement.

    5. A rebuilt Cirix 6x86:
      This used to be my main machine. I had upgraded it's original 486 motherboard to the Cirix one. Though it is currently gathering dust (and despite it's whiny hard disk drive) I will probably rework it into a network services machine (printer, modem, internal testbed web server that's guaranteed to be up even when I'm in Windows playing some game. :))

    All that plus the 3 main machines in use in the house: my current Debian 2.1 Linux machine, my wife's WinBlows box and a more modern laptop for mobile web access. How many is that in all? 8! Geez, I had no idea that they were so many. And except for a couple of really old ones, they either have actual or planned uses.

    OK, that's enough blathering, gotta get back to work!

  • I've painted my 486 linuxrouter black... Looks REALLY good!!!! It looks like an expensive piece of professional equipment :-)

    Fortunatly, I only had to paint the floppy drive black, I would have had much more trouble doing a CD!


  • Put it in a backpack, along with a lead-acid battery, mount a GPS antennae on your head, and voila! instant mobile GPS. (with the addition of a bit of software and the inevitable back brace.)
  • I must be getting behind or something.

    All I have is a sun3/90, Mac IIci, MacSE/30, Quadra650 that are still operational. Of course, I also have an old Wang and an IBM 7171. They're not functional, but once you gut 'em they make good bookshelves. (The wang's about 3'x2'x2' [HxWxD], the IBM's about 3.5'x2.5'x2.5')
  • Yeah, I have an old 486 too. These computers are still useful, especially for word-processing.
  • Hehe, you just exactly described my Win95 box. What's it for? Word Processing and the like, and games. And I don't plan on upgrading because I still get decent framerates on games like Driver and Quake 3.

    As for my Linux box (P120, 40 MB RAM), I don't ever plan on upgrading it. It's more than enough to learn to code.
  • Apparantly the m68k port [] of linux works on MacIIsi's.
  • I will be more than happy to take it off your hands. =)
  • these things are great for xterminals. i have one setup with a 170 meg hd. its got an old trident vesa card in it -- runs all its apps off my main box. basically its just slackware with the base packages and xwindows installed. of course mine has got one of those amd 486 chips and is o/c to 150 mhz (3x50mhz) with 40 megs of ram (saved my old simms), so maybe thats why it works well for me.
    the thing looks like shit -- its sitting in one of those classic PC/XT 150 watt power supply boxes.
    havent tried it with anything slower.

  • Firewall, router, web server, collect a few more and play with beowulf. Many many things :-)
  • It's been an option forever, even LILO can use a serial console, but that doesn't change the fact that I can't change any BIOS settings from a serial console, if the computer dies and it refuses to boot, I can't use a serial console to see "CMOS Checksum Failure" and press F1 to continue. That's what they're really lacking; a good and solid boot-prom. If I had a choice, I'd take a real computer over a PC any day.

  • I wouldnt go that far. Although I started on an Old ATARI PC that only ran basic, Learned in order (schools choice, not mine) basic, pascal, VB, C++, ASM, then C. I currently work in a Unix/linux/Pc environment and I've learned to work my way around a command line pretty well. It just depends on the motivation of the person. If they want to learn how to use a command line after using windows, the only thing stopping them is themselves.
  • My server is a P100 with 64 megs of RAM and two 6.4G hard drives RAID-1'ed. I had (at one time) four people using MATLAB (with fairly good speed) from remote locations (using ssh, of course) I had open 5 or 6 xterms (from my workstation, the server has X libs but no X server) and was compiling the kernel. One other user was reading mail. Yes, I was hitting swap, but not too badly, and everyone was running with fairly good speed -- pine seemed as fast as normal, but my shell had swapped out by the time I exited, and I had to wait a tad...

    In any case, Linux does a really great job with scheduling. Processor power is something that is useful for raytracing, rendering, and gaming, but a fairly recent processor (low-end pentium) can handle even several processor-intensive applications (such as MATLAB) amazingly well. The best upgrade for your linux box is more RAM in most cases, I'd say. That's where most of my slowness comes from: swapping, especially in X, when you can see (And hear) some window being sucked off the disk...

  • I could pick up several cases from friends, but none of them have power supplies. See, all of my friends are like me -- they don't replace their case until the power supply dies. I know one guy who's running a K6 in an original AT case. He had to replace the power supply once, but that's about it.

  • How much space do you need, and how much do you want to pay?

    Computer Surplus outlet has 200 meg hd's for $19, 3-400 for $29 and up.

    I get lots of stuff from them, and someday I'll even get a chance to put it together.

  • Yeah, that's what I'm doing now. The reason I need console access is that I'm spoiled by the SPARC's and the VAXen.
  • dang, I meant

  • How DARE you call a 233mmx/64 "obsolete."

    I'm running a 150 (clocked to 180) With 96MB RAM that used to be a p75, and it runs great. My Laptop is a 266MMX with 64MB RAM, and I HARDLY consider it obsolete.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Argl, mistyped my password. Posting again as I don't like to be anonymous...

    Mhh, I know a good place: @my_home :)

    1 Dual CPU SS20, 256MB
    1 Dual CPU SS10, 128MB
    1 SS2, 96MB
    1 IPX
    1 SparcServer 330
    1 PPro 233
    1 P5-75
    1 AMD486DX4-150
    2 i486DX2-66
    1 IBM Thinkpad 755C
    1 Toshiba Portégé 3010CT
    2 NeXT TurboColor
    1 Atari MegaST4
    1 Apple Lisa with disk and printer
    and some more in my cellar ;)

    And, of course they are nearly all running a
    UN*X system (Linux, NetBSD, SunOS, NeXTStep). Love them all, use them all... 30 degrees celsius in my
    server room rulezz
  • I had an old 486DX-33 w/ VGA monitor (30lb. IBM), 8 megs of ram, 120 meg HD, no OS (refused to pirate on this one).

    I traded it for a Primax 386 laptop with a broken HD, 4 megs ram, mono VGA screen.

    Who was ripped off in the trade?

    And why didn't we donate all of this to a school somewhere? (because they wouldn't take it)

    TheGeek []

  • And humanity will have no need for more than five or six mainframe computer systems.

    And nobody will ever use more than 640K of RAM.

    And we have a final solution to stregnthen the strain.

  • Yeah, but if you want to make it a router for a T1 or cablemodem connection, it needs two ethernet cards. And setting up two ethernet cards in Linux is a bitch.

    How so? Drop the cards in, boot. ifconfig 'em, add some routes, it all works.

    Now copy and paste the lines into /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 and you're laughing.

    I've done it probably a half dozen times now for different people. Hell one of my boxen runs as a firewall/switch just for fun and has 4 3C905s in it! What's YOUR problem?

    Linuxconf, blah. Get down and dirty with the config files yourself. :-)
  • Oh come on, I think he was kidding... At least, I hope he was kidding. If not then, wow, he's really got problems.

  • Agreed. I picked up a 4 port 10/100 ethernet card there for cheap money. Also got myself a complete SPARCstation ELC system with extra ram and an external hard drive for $50.
  • Well, my network hinges on 486s. My main baby, galadriel, is a 486DX2-80 with 24 megs of RAM (could use a bit more, but hey, no X and she's fine) running a heavily upgraded Slackware 3.2. She routes my subnet, runs dns for about 6 or 8 domains, hosts 3 domains for web and mail, has about 2-4 shells going most of the time. Galadriel had her head removed a while back and replaced with an IBM 3151 green glass terminal, and has been chugging along quite nicely, thank you very much.

    Celeborn is the second 486 on the network. He's a PS/2 77 running Debian. He also holds my monitor off my desk. His primary real task is to do backup DNS, but the visible part of his task is as a monitor of the real world (tm). He runs X/Windowmaker at 640x400 as that's all that the IBM 8513 monitor he's got will handle, and a number of little dockapps watch things for me like the weather from the local airport, the time and date here, the time in about 10 other timezones that I care about from time to time, and miscellaneous things like the phases of the moon, etc.

    Although she's not in the closet, galadriel might as well be... the dust gets awfully thick down there in the corner. I've recently bought a 19" 3' tall rack to get her off the carpet. I also need to take her down and reboot a few times to find out what's going to happen at new years. I'm not looking forward to it though... her uptime [] is my pride and joy.

    Oh well... it'll have to happen someday soon...

  • Hi,

    I had a look at the page, there was some really cool information about how to use xdm in indirect mode, thanks!

    Do you know wdm [], though?
    It looks much nicer than the xdm interface, and allows you to do a few tricks, like shuting down the computer or letting you choose your window manager...


  • Funny you should mention a P75. :-) That's what we use (or is it a P90?) on a 10mbit backbone to UUnet. Handles web/mail/news/ftp with no problems. 128 megs of RAM to keep things off the disk and 160 days of up time to date.

    Now if I could only get one of the people I'm hosting for to use PHP instead of perl cgis I might be able to keep his CGIs from taking 25% CPU when they start up. :-)

    There's another P90 sitting across the room from me that does file/print serving for my office. Serves up files for 25 people with Samba, burns CDs... 64M in that one and a 4G RAID1 setup.

    I just recently replaced a 486DX4/120 that was doing firewall/NAT for the office. Now it's a Cyrix 6x86-PR120 I think. The old 486 finally started going flaky.

    And finally, pokey. That's my 386DX33 (original BIG motherboard, 64k cache, with the cache logic done completely in discretes. It's *FULLY* tricked out with 8 megs of memory (that INCLUDES the PEM-3300 memory card!) and 250M hard drive. It handles my voicemail/firewall/NAT for home.
  • Is that some Red Dwarf reference? ;-)


  • Why was that moderated UP?
    Completely off topic. Who really cares what anyone has sitting at home in the back of their closets?
    Come on moderators, use a little sense.
  • Hehe... I have a working PS/2 Model 25 here. It has a hard drive though...

    I think it will be a terminal or something.. I like the nice all-in-one design and the fact that the bloody thing weighs about 40 pounds. Or if I fail at that, maybe a fishbowl...

  • I've thrown out the following crap in the past 5 yrs:

    Trash 80 Model III
    Apple IIc
    Wang PC (don't ask don't tell)
    Wang OIS 50/60

    If you can't get your crap to actually do WORK then TOSS IT!!!

    Ya like you can beowolf the above crap so you get the equivalent of an i386 overclocked to 6 Mhz.
  • My experiance with wdm, gdm, kdm, and have been very bad. They work great at console, but for a remote xterminal, they weren't ready for prime time, some caused the terminal to respawn untill I thought the monitor was going to melt.

    But, I just got the last version of kdm to work with "X -query" so I think maybe some of them are getting closer. But, unless your really farmiliar with what your doing, and know how to kill the -indirect, I would stick with xdm, because respawns aren't a happy thing.

  • The article is talking about 18 months lifespan for computers. Quite true if you consider the proprietary software and that you consider your computer as a whole. While hanging on Windows I noted that my P166MMX 32M 1.6G S3 TrioV2 2M became "old" in nearly 9 months. If I would keep using it for 9 months more than I would have to stop my work...

    However this box still lives. After 20 monthes of using it has my main home desktop, now it turned into a small server with some secondary desktop tasks. And I'm planning to use it for a year more.
  • hrmm. they use WP 5.1 at my job
  • Apparently, San Bernadino County in California thinks "old" systems are useless. I just came from a surplus auction, I bid on a 4year old IBM mainframe, 3 year old Sparc, 4 HP netservers, 34gb of RAID, 96 P100-P133 systems, several 20+ inch monitors, etc, etc,etc. It's insane what these people throw away...I didn't bid more than $30 on any of it, and I'm most likely to win it all...don't ask me what the hell I'm gonna do with a 600gb IBM storage mainframe, but its there.
  • I've been thinking about doing alternative cases for awhile... I even put a lego case on my 386.

    stuff like a hardwood case, or metal, or nerf (for the kids) would be really cool, and I don't know why no one's doing it yet.

    Problem is that I don't have the talent or the materials. Maybe I should go for it anyway. :)

    ...a wooden mouse would look really cool tho.
  • er, linuxconf *does* run under a gui in RedHat, called 'control-panel'.

    Just as easy to use as any NT interface I've ever tried!

  • 4 486 SX-25's
    3 386 DX-33's
    2 486 DX2-66's
    1 286

    And 20 ton dot matrix printer in big box...

    And that is just the complete systems, I have a whole bunch of crap in my basement. Even an old NEC monochrome monitor...still works! Dual prong video card (mono/color), 3 2400 external baud modems, and enough power cords to wrap around my house.
  • The various Ham Radio clubs in the Washington DC metro area put on similar flea markets, which they call "Hamfests" or "Computerfest/Hamborees". There's usually one every two months or so. They're great fun for kids and adults who act like kids when exposed to cool computer equipment. Interested Slashdot readers may be able to find similar events in their area by looking up their local Ham Radio club's website. I love hamfests.

    - Tim
  • as a linux zealot i must flame you for running win95 on that 486.
  • I've got an old Wyse-50. Any chances I could use that as a terminal? Point me to any recommended HOWTO's etc. Thanks in advance.
  • eBay is a good 12 step program for these PCs, after 12 succesful auctions, you should have a new addiction.

    Seriously, I sold an IBM AT for $100, quite the bidding war. Oddly enough all of the early IBM machines that I have worked on (XTs, ATs, etc) used AMD chips.
  • For nostalgic purposes, I'd love to get one, but they're hard to find. Not even sure what I'd do with one, I just want to have it. :-)


  • The Palms have a 680x0-class CPU running at 16MHz, which makes them more or less similar to, say, a later Mac II, a Classic II, or SE/30. So, no. That old machine isn't ten tims more powerful, unless, say, it's a Pentium or some such.
  • At work I have 9 Mac Classic IIs stacked on my desk. They're like sculpture. They're soothing to look at, what with that playful smirk the of the floppy drive and that sort of wide-eyed toddler look of the overall design.
  • You can offer to give away your old hardware at the Giveaway List [].

    The recipient pays for shipping, otherwise no money changes hands. You can also give away literature or Linux CDs there.


  • I don't see why computer recycling isn't more popular. Just because the processor is old - doesn't mean the other electronic parts are bad (unless they've been burnt out by lightning). They may not be able to be used in some of the latest computers, but these parts can be used in other electronic devices (or to repair them). Duh... Just doesn't make sense to me...
  • My pentium with win95/linux just plain doesnt run most DOS games right. It won't run x-wing, horde, nascar with sound, sim city 2000, and most other DOS only games. there are too many conflicts with the win95 crap. I just run them on my many 486's. That and I prefer to keep as much space free on this comp for my MP3 collection and my graphics work.

  • dsl modem straight into the hub first...and bingo

    ... you're leaking packets out into the world and the world's leaking packets into your network.

    Prolly not as much a problem with xDSL, but if you've got a cable modem this is a no-no. It's not good security, and it will prolly annoy the cable modem provider if they monitor their network at all.

    Just something to think about.

    A host is a host from coast to coast...

  • I like your way of thinking.

    If I'm too stupid/lazy to get my hardware (which someone paid > $2000 ten years ago), I'll just throw it in a landfill.. Then brag about it!#

    God forbit I actually donate it to someone who will put use to it. No, I'm too cool for that. I'll throw it in a landfill and let the environment deal with it. Or people 50 years from now will deal with my ignorance and have to dig it up for scrap parts (you've obviously never heard about what happens in Indian Landfills).

    So, now I'm gonna go buy a new P3 600mhz with the money my daddy gave me.

    Excuse me while I go throw away some more *old* computers.
  • id games are a bit more recent than the target for the database. It's intended to be more of a warehouse of games made in the 80s and PERHAPS early 90s...

  • But I don't have any spare cases, monitors, hard drives, or CD-ROM drives. I seriously doubt it would be worth the money to build systems around these, so they just sit and collect dust...

    An at case is an at case.. surely there is someone you know who is throwing away an even lesser machine whose case you could salvage.
  • You've got a point here, xdm is rock solid, but if I thought about wdm, it's because I actually got a wdm login screen on my X terminal, having done an X -query baikal (baikal is my app server)

    This is all past tense because I'm upgrading (even though right now it looks more like downgrading with the application server down ;-)


  • turn it into a proxy [] server like me. you'll never buy another modem again.
  • Perhaps for a sysadmin. We're talking about a home network here. I personally have no experience with ipmasq, ipchains, port forwarding, or any of the other fun stuff. Therefore, I highly doubt I can set them up in 10-20 seconds.
  • by SlapAyoda ( 6041 ) on Monday August 16, 1999 @11:17AM (#1744053) Homepage
    There's a flea market held over here at MIT every thrid Sunday of the month. Lots of hardware ranging from microwave trancievers, to ocilliscopes, to sun machines, VAXen, to Pentium 3s. It's really cool. There's tons of stuff from like the 70s and all kinds of weird hardware junk. Like, really weird stuff. Lots of stuff is given out for free by the vendors who don't feel like bringing it home. I've gotten 9 free monitors in the past three months. It's a cool place. Check out the MIT site for more info.
  • I have two 486'es here, err, no wait, thats three... four 486'es. They're great work-horses for stuff you just need to get running and then forget about. I'm using one 486dx-33 with 8MB RAM as a workstation, it works like a charm. Remember that computers don't get any slower; only your perception of how fast they were changes with time. In reality, with the Linux kernel, I can do more on my 486 workstation than I could on the same computer running Windows a few years back.
    The only real problem with PC computers are their inability to use a serial console, and that's a big drawback, but one has to live with what one gets.
  • I thought the whole point of PnP was to keep you from having to specify io and irq addresses for hardware? Does the Linux ISAPnP implementation not have this basic feature?
  • by aheitner ( 3273 ) on Monday August 16, 1999 @01:50PM (#1744064)
    The 286 has a full multitasking protected mode.

    It's just 16bit. It works fine. The 286 can take up to (IIRC) 16megs of RAM (tho few MB's will take it).

    IBM originally came out with OS/2 for the 286.

    Interestingly, Intel never provided a way to switch out of 286 protected mode -- they figured you'd boot in real mode, switch to protected as the OS loads, and never look back (they forgot they had M$ to contend with :). To get your 286 out of protected mode you triple-fault it, which causes the processor to reset.
  • Here's what i've done with my old boxen. Take the old box and install linux or your favorite *nix and then put a modem and a network card in it. Make it dial your isp and act as a router for your network you can learn all about this here IP Chains []. It's cool, and fun and gives you a real excuse to have a network closet at home. and make sure to get an external modem and hang it up next to the hub so you have cool blinking lights
  • Because...
  • I have an 'old' Pentium 133, and a 286. Experiment with them. Use them for terminals. Install different operating systems on them. I got my ZIP-drive working on the 286, which is great when the only other removable storage on there is 5+1/4" floppies...

    Past that, cluster them, and ultimately see if they can be sold, junked or recycled.
  • It also requires at least 400 mhz or so...
  • And notepad has a 32 kb limit...
  • Maybe because:

    (a) You aren't the editor.

    (b) There aren't any "bitchin' DOS desktops". (I like DOS, but desktop is associated with GUI... Maybe if you ran GEOS on it. :)

    (c) A 486 makes a lousy Windows '98 desktop.

    (d) A lot of people on Slashdot like and use Linux. (in case you haven't noticed.)

    (e) Try some advocacy. Maybe if you've done it, mention that you can run minix on a 286 or FreeBSD on a 486, and tell us how it runs.
  • Yeah, but if you want to make it a router for a T1 or cablemodem connection, it needs two ethernet cards. And setting up two ethernet cards in Linux is a bitch.
  • mmm.. I couldn't get it to run in Win95, sadly. Too bad it wasn't networkable. I spent many a late night emulating this in SoftWindows on my 25Mhz Quadra.
  • Set up a network and make this the network router. Give it two network cards. Put Linux/FreeBSD on the machine, run NATD and SAMBA. Hook this computer up to the net via modem/cable modem/DSL/ISDN, and hook the rest of the network to the other card. Now, instead of fighting over who gets to use the Internet (only one phone line), everyone can share the connection, and the server will even autodial when necessary. Also, you can set up shared directories with Samba, so that it doesn't matter which computer you are using - you can get your files on any of them. If you use Windows, you may have a little more trouble getting the thing to be a printer server (although I'm sure it is possible - what do the experts say?). But it is cake to set up one of the Windows computers to be the printer server in that case.

    And of course, the biggest advantage is that you get a Linux/FreeBSD box to play around with!
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    ELKS runs on 286es or lower, but it isn't production. I don't know about the *BSD's (I doubt it) but minix also runs on old x86 machines. In fact, that's where Linux originally started, essentially bootstrapped from minix.

    However, I'll tell you now: feel free to try it out, but it is by no means production-level stuff. It will boot, and it will run, but it doesn't run very well. I haven't tried it lately though. But minix on an 8088 absolutely sucks! :)
  • We're talking about 18-month old computers here. They make "bitchin' win95 desktops" as well. I have sitting in front of me a 19-month old Pentium II 266 with 96 megs of RAM, a voodoo2, and 14.8 gigs of hard drive space. It runs Win95 quite nicely, so obviously you don't need Linux to get your 18-month old hardware to run.

    Perhaps your 72-month old hardware, but that's a different story.
  • A bit more info about the quasi-famous MIT Swapfest:
    MITERS page [] an article in the school newspaper [] More thorough info, from the MIT Ham pages []
  • Which games does it not run? I'm sure SPACEWAR would be a little fast. :)

    You could try using BOCHS to emulate a slow x86, it does a good job of that. DOSEMU runs a lot of stuff too, and there are DOS programs that simulate having a slower computer. Also, there are free interpreters for the old INFOCOM data files, and now there's something like that for some of the old Sierra games.

    However, none of these are really good substitutes for just having an older computer lying around. :)
  • That's a good point. My computer is 18 months old, and it's nowhere near that nice. In fact, I'll probably end up buying a computer like that in another 6 months or more, and it'll be about the same, although probably with a faster processor.

    However, in 6 months, shouldn't you be running Windows 2000? ;)
  • >And setting up two ethernet cards in Linux is a bitch.

    Not really. I was able to do it almost without trying. I used RH5.2 to install on my 486/100, I first put only one card in (SMC ether/ez ISA) and then did the install, telling it to use DHCP when it found the card during the setup. Once past the install, I started up X to make sure it was able to connect ok to my cable modem (no effort there, worked the first time) then shut it down and installed the second NIC (another SMC, different model - picked it up at a hardware show).

    Then after reboot, I ran linuxconf, added the new card, gave it a static ip address, enabled packet forwarding and set the masquerading rules, and bam - had myself a cheap little box to share the cable connection with all the machines in my house. No real sweat at all.

  • Off and on I try to find a working 8086 machine so I can bring up the copy of Microsoft Windows 1.0 I got with my IBM PS/2 Model 25 which died so many years ago. (It came on three 720k 3.5" floppies.)
    Win1.0 crashes on startup on a 286 and 386 (haven't tried 486 or DOSEmu.)

    Thought it would be a hoot to post some pictures of Win 1.0 for those folks who haven't experienced it first hand. :-)

    It sucked way back then, too (gasp!).
  • Give your old hardware to charity!

    I've spent several happy afternoons taking a pile of "obsolete" hardware and software (anyone remember WP 4.2?) and turning it into useful workstations for a local charity.

  • Won't run them at all or they just run too fast to be playable? I ran into this when I tried to play commanche on a pentiumII and it was just too fast.

    If this is the problem you can try moslo [] to slow your computer down to make the game playable. It works. (then you can give your older machine to me :-) )

  • I think they just couldn't resist saying the words Y2K. My old tandy understood the year 2000. Generally there are no post 1980 computers that didn't understand 2000.
    Some, even today have have the date reintered, but hopfully that isn't to difficult to do. Anyhow about computer garbage I don't know why people throw away their entire computers instead of just upgrading them. Though I do have to wonder about the motherboard fairy. I should have about 5 old motherboards in my closet. And not one of them is there anymore. they just simply dissapear
  • I meant, that the computers need to have the date reentered. Or umm nevermind
  • Then after reboot, I ran linuxconf, added the new card, gave it a static ip address, enabled packet forwarding and set the masquerading rules, and bam - had myself a cheap little box to share the cable connection with all the machines in my house.

    That's the part that takes forever. Configuring ipmasq, packet forwarding, etc., is not exactly fun. Win2000 does it much more nicely. Linux really could use some GUI admin tools. CLI is nice for some things, but not for *everything*. GUI should at least be an option.
  • My "crappy, old, outdated" PC (a 233MMX w/64 MB of RAM) gets lots of use. It does everything I need it to do (programming w/XEmacs/gcc, writing papers with LaTeX, surfing the web, burning CDs, IRC, email, etc.). I feel no need to upgrade it at all, I only got it because it was a cheap, good deal. It replaced my Pentium 75 w/32 MB of RAM.

    I find that real "power users" (like most Linux and FreeBSD users) usually have what others would consider "old" machines.

    That being said, there's nothing wrong with having a shiny new fast machine if you so desire. But with relatively efficient OSes like Linux and FreeBSD, even a "lowly" Pentium 75 is enough for a lot of tasks. Some people think a Pentium 400 w/64 MB of RAM is the minimum for email (with programs like Micro$oft LookOut) but even a 386 does a fine job with pine or mutt.

    Oh, well, let them keep buying their expensive machines. That just makes Celerons and PIII's even cheaper. Maybe I'll buy one of those one day.

  • I hope they are enjoying my Q3test games...

    I'm sure they are. Yep, it says it right here in your file, "Has violent fantasies."

    And here's the receipt from your insurance company, for when they bought information about your manual reflexes. If they were below average, you'll see a reference to that in the next bill (but naturally, there will be no mention of it if you are above average).

    Oh, and that time that you tried to grab the rocket launcher, but someone else already had it, and you screamed "Damn lag!!!" Big Brother's Black-Box-on-your-LAN knows that there wasn't really any lag. This is mentioned in the psychological part of your file, but in a different section than the "violent fantasies" part.

    Oh, and that time that you telnetted to one of your other machines (instead of walking over there) and typed 'ls' and one of the files listed was big_boobies.gif -- that's in your file too. Tsk, tsk. Oh my, this section of the file is awefully thick...

    Sorry, just letting my imagination run wild. :-) A sniffer in every home...

  • I have...
    • old 486/33 with40meg drive, no CD. I think it's got an original VGA (640x480x16) card in it.
    • Dell P166. This was my main machine from like Feb 1995 to last month, and I was quite pleased to run Redhat on it. 128Meg RAM, but no hard drives or video because I did a brain transplant into...
    • AMD K6-2/350 just bought last month. 128Meg (newly bought, since the Dell stuff didn't come over). Brain transplant of something like 12Gig of drivespace from Dell. Also using 3dfx Voodoo2 (12Meg) and old AWE32 Soundblaster transplanted from said Dell box. Planning to install RH6 shortly.
    • Countless cables, adapters, genderbenders and mice.


  • by rde ( 17364 ) on Monday August 16, 1999 @12:34PM (#1744252)
    Where to old computers go?
    Silicon heaven. Duh.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato