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so I Recently Aquired A Few Computers... Answered

So at my dads work there were around 7 pretty old computers and he brought them home for me to try to get them to work. 3 of them is said I could have. Now here is the catch: Only one has a working operating system. the other two don't really boot up(i made the mistake on one of trying to install windows NT on to the hard drive in one computer and then take it put the hard drive back in)the other computer says it's missing some system file. Now, here is the hard part, none of those computers have a CD drive or Floppy drive, so is there any thing i can do? If it helps, I can take pictures of the computers(Can you believe that one of them has a 5 GB hard drive?).



8 years ago

recently the same thing happened to me my friends knew I love to upgrade my old windows 95 computer so they gave me the towers. Now listen to this... I have in my hand atm... a 1.4GB hard drive. 3.5 inch and everything. (min later) now I have the strangest HD i ever saw in my hand, a 2.5GB hard drive... but not any average hard drive.a 5 1/4 size. the thing is basically half as thick, but the disks you can tell are CD sized. (if you want pics i can show ya) - oh anyway. yeah outa the 4 i got 3 CD drives were jammed and even when I got the thing to pop out the disks would not spin. all their windows 95s are missing 3 files that is common when you turned the computer off by just cutting the power, or so Ive heard. My windows 95 disk is shattered (cries) and 2 of em have 24 mb RAM to small for even puppy sheash. But hey! I got an AMD K6! little faster and better (300mhz) , and fits my socket 7 nicely. I also got this motherboard that online says it supports up to 512mb Ram total (2 slots) (way better then the one I have atm... ) even has a turbo switch. only one flaw... doesn't have ... well anything on it. fair enough that I gotta have a sound card, and video, but I can only attach a keyboard with a 6 pin. and i need a card just to have a mouse. and that all the card slots... ahh w/e time to play some more Total Annihilation on original hardware. (and games that dosbox cannot play, and 64bit is incompatible with)

Take pics and post stats. The following information would be lovely so we could help you out some more:

  • Processor type and Speed (ex: Intel Celeron 600 MHz)
  • Memory/RAM Capacity and, if you can find it, type (ex: 64MB DIMM)
  • Hard Drive Capacity (you already said one of them was 5GB? Wow. You're working with Windows 95-era machines, boy)
  • Original OS (ex: Windows 95, 98, etc)
  • Number of USB Ports, if any

I also wonder if any of them have Wifi or bluetooth? lol

Post as many pics as you can, front and back of the machines are most important.

Whenever I acquire old PCs, I usually upgrade them with parts I have lying around or find or (gasp) purchase and then sell them on craigslist. This is just me, though.

well, i don't really have a easy way of getting info on ram and processor since two of them don't boot to a spot where i can view the info. all of them have one old usb, and the working lab top has access to two 2.0 usb drives via pcmcia card. like i said the one that works has win98se on it, and i just set it up to dual boot a variant of puppy linux. the other two i don't know. one is stuck on the winnt installation screen(long story) and the other just says "Can't find OS"

So there aren't any stickers or anything on them? Look for stickers. Towers usually have stickers with information on them.

there all labtops(sorry for the late post). i did find i external floppy which i used to install MS-DOS and then a lite version of Linux that runs from MS-DOS.

They are a laptop? Ok, We really need pictures now, i thought you where dealing with desktops.

USB eh, Don't know the Ram and Processor specs? Get into the bios, it usually tells you the specs.

Show me a picture of the Computers, case open if you will. Also, First, Acquire a Cd drive and cable, And A Windows Xp(only is they are 400MHz or faster, with at lest 64MB of ram), Windows 2000(if they are 200MHz or faster with at least 32MB of ram) Or MicroXP (If they are lower than 200MHz, no lower than 150 though XD and at least 32MB of RAM) Installation Cd. Connect the Cd Drive to your first victm, make sure it has an HDD with no important file of at least 1GB(512MB if you are installing MicroXP) and connect the CD drive to it, Install OS, Switch to the Next PC, and so on, You should get all of them working that way, as long as they are 200MHz or higher, and they all have an HDD of at least 512MB. ;)

You should ask your dad to buy you some working CD drives, then install Ubuntu linux on them all.

Oh no, Big big no, Ubuntu is by far too heavy, I reccomend XP, MicroXP or 2000 just as long as they have a clock higher than 200MHz

it would be awesome if you could take pics of them. i am not quite sure of your delima, but i'm sure i can help some. PS woa!!! 5 gigs? thats awesome! mine is 2 gigs.

I have a 200MB laptop HDD around here somewhere...

ubuntu won't even fit on the hard drive, let alone run on one of the computers.

If you had read the topic, you would have seen that he doesn't have a working CD or Floppy drive.

...Now, here is the hard part, none of those computers have a CD drive or Floppy drive...

Computers that old may well not be able to boot from USB devices, and if there isn't a working OS on the hard disk the computer is pretty much pooched. If they can boot from USB though, creating a bootable USB isn't that hard. I would suggest finding a CD drive from somewhere (they are dirt cheap online given that DVD burners are now ubiquitous and cost 20GBP or less new, I'd be very surprised if you couldn't find a computer CD-ROM drive for $10), plugging it into the computers one at a time, installing whatever OS you like (cue the usual plugs for Puppy, DSL, DeLi etc) and then removing the CD drive because the working computer should now have support for USB drives. Ubuntu isn't a great idea, it has gigabytes of high-power software and a flashy GUI that these machines probably can't handle. A simpler distro, from the ultralight ones mentioned already to something like Debian with a minimal GUI could work, but Ubuntu stripped down to this level loses most of its benefits.

Or, for some people, That could be considered where not to look.... I got one for $6.00 at London Drugs....

Meh, I know some old comps can't, but he didn't say either way so I mentioned it...

Good point on ubuntu - now that I think about it DSLDSL DSL a much smaller distro would be more appropriate.

Since you can take apart the PCs, why not temporarily gut the CD or floppy drive from the working computer that has a CD drive or floppy drive and then attach that to the one you want to install the operating system on. Make sure the hard drive is the master and attach the CD rom as a slave on the same cable or else put it as the master on the secondary IDE channel. If you have disks, just attach the floppy to the floppy drive connector/power. Depending on how "powerful" the machine is (RAM, CPU) why not convert it over to a Ubunto or Linux machine? Good luck.

Thats another problem, i don't actually own a working floppy or CD drive. the only ones i have access to are the broken ones in my desktop computer. And were talking about as weak as you can get with the CPU and RAM. they were all made for win 98 and one one I have working lags when I try to view a file and play music at the same time. And it's not that there missing a floppy and CD, they don't even have a hook up to one. the only connection is the USB, which seems to be inaccessible without installing some kind of driver for it. I think my only chance is to make a bootable USB and hope for the best. I might be able to load win 2000 or some type of linux but i doubt it.

> I might be able to load win 2000 or some type of linux but i doubt it.
You can certainly run some type of linux, though perhaps one of the modern GUI environments (kde, gnome, etc) I ran freebsd on my 90Mhz Pentium and it was pretty zippy using text-style X windows. The problem with old computers like these isn't so much having them do SOMETHING useful, but to properly set your expectations on what they CAN'T do. You can probably forget about modern web browsing, which is unfortunately very cpu intensive what with the graphics, flash animation, video, and so on. Which is unfortunate since that's an awful large percentage of the usage for a computer these days. But there really is a lot left over...

Check out some of the "small" linux versions specifically aimed at old hardware. I'm particularly fond of Tom's RTBT which fits on a single floppy and only needs something like 16M of memory (but I'm an old fashioned kind of guy. There are some more general purpose small linux distributions as well.)

And see if you can find a CD or floppy drive; they're often thrown out (ie when people upgrade to DVD or CD-R drive), and it's probably a lot easier to boot W98-era hardware from something other than a USB drive.

Sounds like you got a few stripped-down corporate terminal workstations meant to connect in a network and work off a main server. Might be a lot of effort to hunt for drivers to get it on a network which you probably don't have set up.


9 years ago

scan and use diagnostic tools to recover sensitive company documents on the hard drive, then sell the information to willing buyers.
If they're missing a CD/Floppy drive you can swap around a drive to just install an OS on each.