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Linux on older computer for telecommuting

By hrhsoleil ·
I have an older computer running Win98 at home and want to use it to telecommute to occasionally. I have a cable modem so speed isn?t an issue, but my OS is. Win98 is not compatible with my company?s Webmail. A techie at lunch suggested that a combo of Linux and Mozilla might be able to handle it, and I must confess that I?ve been toying with the idea of learning more about Linux. Problem is, I don?t know where to start. Can anyone recommend a Linux distribution that is free and easy for someone new to the OS to work with?

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by In reply to Linux on older computer f ...


RedHat Linux 9 or Fedora would be a fine Linux to start with. You can download Fedora from over your broadband connection and burn it to a CD. It will take hours but it will work.

But, why do you say "Windows 98" incompatible with your company's webmail? If Win 98's IE is incompatible, but Mozilla is compatible, can't you just install Mozilla on your current Windows 98 system?

There's nothing wrong with using Linux for this. You could even go the extra mile just as a learning project. But, my advice is to be careful to not overcomplicate your task unnecessarily. It sounds like all you need is a more modern browser.

-----Steve Jackson

Software Corporation (Softcorp)
Advanced pro bono tools and utilities free for personal use

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by jmgarvin In reply to Linux on older computer f ...

I'd get RH 9. However, if your Win98 machine can't do web mail, I'm not sure that Linux will help. What is the problem with your webmail?

You probably want a low foot print OS and Window Manager. So I'd pickup Slackware and use FVWM. THe learning curve is pretty steep, but you'll be glad you did.

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by Roger99a In reply to Linux on older computer f ...

I say Ubuntu from
I'm still new to Linux and Ubuntu has been the easiest to get along with so far. Red Hat and the other kitchen sink distros tend to cause a brain overload.

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by AlanGeek In reply to Linux on older computer f ...

For a quick, easy, no-brainer test of Linux, download and burn a Knoppix Live CD ( This is a live CD that you can boot directly from without having to install anything. Be aware that it's a bit slower bringing up apps when you click on them because it's coming from the CD. Otherwise, it will usually recognise most hardware, and it's set up for DHCP by default, so when you connect via your cable modem, it will automatically get an IP address and be ready to go on the web. You can set up a swap disk on your hard drive (under the Knoppix menu or the fat penguin icon) to speed things up somewhat.

When you first start it up, it will open a Konqueror window (browser) which you can use for web surfing, or you can close that and start the included Mozilla browser. Again, they will be somewhat slower as they are running from the CD.

For a little more help with it, you can get the Knoppix Hacks book from O'Reilly which includes a Knoppix 3.4 CD. It's $29.95 from Barnes & Noble, or about $20 from their web store (

I'm using Knoppix 3.6, have tried 3.8 but it seems a bit buggy. There's lots of online help as well. Hope you find this useful.

There is also a free-to-download SuSE Live CD, but I don't have any experience with it. Might also be useful.

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by ergodic In reply to Linux on older computer f ...

AllanGeek's Knoppix suggestion is excellent. Once you become familiar with the system it can be installed in your HD, with a much faster execution. It comes with several outstanding application programs such as office, image manipulation, cad, etc. On a side line it can be used to retrieve your data from most from broken boxes.
I use W2K Pro, XP Pro, and FEDORA CORE 3 (A free Red Hat Linux Distro). Fedora,is my preference. Like most Linux Distros is very robust, stable and meticulously maintained. Give it a try, I think you will become another Linux advocate

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by lastchip In reply to Linux on older computer f ...

A less well known alternative is Xandros.

I've tried RedHat (didn't rate it) Ubuntu (disappointing) Mandrake (better) SuSE (very good) Knoppix (is fine), but out of all the distro's tried so far, Xandros really was the simplest to set up and use. A true Click and Run Linux system. If you're coming from Windows, that's where I would start.

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by arpboy In reply to Linux on older computer f ...

Linux probably won't solve your issue, unless it's by virtue of wiping the machine. I'd suggest putting the website into your trusted sites under security in IE. You might find that it will start working. It may require javascript to work (many do), and if your security is set fairly tightly, you may not be allowing it to run.

Having said that, if you're looking for Linux, I'd suggest either Fedora Core 3 or Mandrake. I'm personally familiar with FC3, but both are very good. The primary reason I'd give is that they are probably the best-supported in the Linux world, in terms of auto-install packages (RPMs on FC3), updates, etc.

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by Flash00 In reply to Linux on older computer f ...

Definitely look into Puppylinux. It comes with Mozilla browser so it has an email client. You can run it as a live CD (requires 128 MB RAM to run properly) or install it to HD. The forum is very friendly and helpful.

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by Fritz_Monroe In reply to Linux on older computer f ...

I agree with AlanGeek. Using a LiveCD distro will allow you to verify a couple of things. First, it lets you know that you can run linux no this system. It will also assist in troubleshooting exactly what's wrong with your connection to work. There are other LiveCD distros, and all are pretty friendly. I've used Mepis and it worked great. If you decide you like Mepis, it has a real easy install program to put it to your hard drive.

As for not connecting properly to work, that shouldn't be a Win98 issue. I'd look into exactly what it's not doing. If you can use Mozilla on a linux box to connect, you should be able to use Mozilla on a Win98 box to connect. I think you should do a little more digging into what the problem is.


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