Welcome to the Linux Foundation Forum!

Ancient PC's

I'm looking to setup some old computers as content players, displaying power point presentations. These systems will be older computers, somewhere in the Pentium 2-Pentium 4 era, and will be used only to play PPT files, as well as possibly some video files. What flavor of linux would you recommend that can run on an old computer without utilizing too much of it's system resources, and do any of you have a recommendation for a PPT player that will work well on such a system and be able to display things like transitions and such in today's versions of power point? I'm plugging the computer into a TV and running the presentation 24/7 with exception to updating the PPT file on occasion, so the system won't be used for anything else. I just want to make sure it doesn't run the PPT or potential videos in the future choppy.


  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    The speed of the processors and older components might be your only problem with videos, but if they're in a presentation format instead of just the playing of a long video, you might not see a speed problem after all.

    Distros for older computers:
    Tiny Core
    They all work well on older computers.

    As far as the app for playing with presentations, you might want to look at an article that Linux.com presented a short time ago. Link:

    I thought it was interesting, but haven't got to try it yet.
  • Unfortunately that solution wouldn't work for me. I won't be the one generating the PPT content. I'll be putting it on the clients, or potentially having them auto-update as the person generating the content uploads a new version of the PPT to a remote server.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    I have had luck in the past using openoffice.org presentation to edit and play powerpoint generate ppt files, however I do not see support for the new office 2007/2010 file formats, go-office may offer support for those formats.

    As for the hardware, the old P2 class machines hay have some issues, but the newer P3 and P4 systems should be able to handle the presentations and videos, just turn off all gui effects in the window manager to save the resources for it's primary task.
  • openoffice works great for PPT formats. If you are using, office 2007 or later, try installing wine and install 2007 or later using that program.

    A good distro that I like that is very light on system resources:

    ubuntu 8.10
    Fedora - older versions
  • Part of the reason I'm going with Linux is the free factor. I'm trying to avoid large expenses, and paying for licensing for office for numerous systems can get pricey. If I were to run Wine and use Office 2007, I'd still need to pay for Office 2007 licenses for every system.

    I'll check out Openoffice. I'm assuming it does not support 2007 or later office? I've seen newer versions of ubuntu and liked it. Is there a place you can go to get earlier releases, as many sites typically only list their most recent versions of software updates. Not sure if it's the same for Linux.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    I can see the issue with paying for office 2007, as an alternate solution you can force the users to save the files in 2003 format so it will work with openoffice.org.

    I would advise against earlier releases of operating systems because they may be past of near the end of their support life, which can result in having an unpatched system that is vulnerable to old exploits. If you are bent on getting older versions you can do until the download page and click the "alternative downloads" link to find other installation options and older isos.
  • The only reason I was looking at older versions is because I assumed older versions are designed based on being efficient on older computers. I'd assume newer versions while compared to other OS's of today's computers are very efficient, are still expecting you to have a decent processor to operate on. Sure, it may only take 1% of your system resources on a computer of today, but 1% of a computer of today could potentially be 50% of an older computer, where the older OS's are designed to be efficient on older systems, and may only take 10% of a computer's system resources to operate. Am I wrong?
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    A well written system can adapt to the available hardware. The only real restrictions you will have to look at at the kernel build (taking up RAM) and the graphical elements requiring too many resources. The core functionality of newer operating systems should still be able to work on older hardware as long as it has a clean kernel and the gui does not overwhelm the system.

    An example would be that my slackware-current installation can easily run an older p2 or p3 system as long as I use a minimal windows manager or none at all. In your case looking at a modern distro running lxde or xfce would provide all that you need. In general don't look at distros that are using kde or gnome or you will risk choppy video.
  • Isn't KDE/Gnome optional? I thought that you could choose to load or quit KDE/Gnome on all versions should you choose to, and simply run command prompt based.
  • Yes on some distros, KDE/Gnome are optional desktop environments if you decide to them, you can always install them from your add/remove software manager.

    If you use Ubuntu or Slackware, these window managers are installed be default. For slackware, before the system completes the installation, you can choose what windows manager to install, or stick with the default KDE.

    IMO, older OSes are still valuable, when you evaluate older hardware. Yes, their support life will end, and you will have to worry about unpatched exploits. For those that can't afford to purchase the more powerful and expensive systems, having an older OS will at least allow you to operate and not worry about your older system hanging because the newer OSes chews up too much resources. Use older OSes as backup to buy time for a proper migration to the newer standards.

    Personally, older machines are still useful. Unless their burned or broken, they can be put to good use. Most of the time, you can just upgrade memory and the cpu.

    Best thing about linux, it could care less what hardware it runs on, as long as it's compatible--usually it is. And, it doesn't over work the your system like OSes do.


Upcoming Training