Last weekend a customer presented me with what he thought was a five-year old Dell Optiplex. It was actually a twelve year old Dimension 4500 with Microsoft Windows XP Home and was agonizingly slow. In any case, XP was rapidly approaching its end of life.
I feared that this PC was also at its end of life. Dell.com reported that it had shipped in 2002(!), and its hard drive SMART indicated over 50,000 power-on hours. Still, its CPU was a 2 GHz Pentium 4, so I decided to beat this dying horse a bit more before putting it out to pasture.
This desktop PC contained two 512 MB DDR memory modules. Both Dell and Crucial.com advised that this motherboard couldn’t address more than 1 GB of memory. Google revealed that in fact this motherboard could accept two 1 GB DDR memory modules, so I installed two 1 GB DDR memory modules, for a total of 2 GB. The BIOS reported 2048 MB total memory. Yesss!
Unfortunately the PC wouldn’t boot from a Xubuntu 12.04 live DVD. No wonder: this PC contained a CD-ROM drive, not a DVD drive. It also could not boot from a USB drive.
No problem. I booted from a Ubuntu minimal install CD, installed it, and used the sudo get-apk install xubuntu-desktop command to download hundreds of megabytes and install Xubuntu 13.10. (I don’t know how — or if it’s possible — to install anything but the newest release with the get-apk command.) It ran, but the display would occasionally blank and log me off. Not good.
I wanted to try Xubuntu 12.04, not 13.10, but how could I do this on a PC with only a CD-ROM — not a DVD — drive? I found a clever program called plop boot manager that installs on a boot CD-ROM, which in turn passes control to a boot thumbdrive in a USB connector. I created a plop CD-ROM and a Xubuntu 12.04 boot thumbdrive. It worked! Xubuntu 12.04 runs nicely on this old Dimension 4500.
Now I just need to replace its 50,000 hour hard drive. Maybe it’ll run for another twelve years.
Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695