Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Linux for the Dell Dimension 2400

Hello again. In my last post I showed you how to install Windows 7 on the old Dell Dimension 2400 computer. I did not leave Windows 7 on my old computer for long because I had only 512 MB of memory installed which made Windows 7 run very slow. Now with Microsoft no longer providing support for Windows Xp you must find alternative operating systems for your old computers. Today I will tell you what I found was the perfect operating system for the Dell Dimension 2400.

Back when I was still using Windows Xp I experimented with linux operating systems. Back then I found linux to be a bit too complicated for me as opposed to Windows. I would always end up going back to Windows Xp. About two years ago I switched to linux for good. I installed linux on my old Dell Dimension 2400 and I have never looked back. The secret is to install a linux operating system which is made for older computers with lower ram memory installed, There are several linux operating systems for older computers. First of all do not use Mandriva or Ubuntu on your old computer. These systems have higher specifications then the specially made linux distributions for old computers. There are some smaller linux distributions that run on as low as 16 MB of ram.

First let's list some linux operating systems made specifically for old computers. Here you can find a great list of linux operating made especially for older computers. The one I found that works great for the old Dell Dimension 2400 is Antix linux. AntiX linux requires just 128 MB of ram to operate so my 512 MB of ram works great. Below is a screenshot of Antix linux.
Now when some think of linux they think of typing commands in a terminal and other complicated stuff. In fact most linux operating systems nowadays resemble Windows. Antix linux has shortcuts, menus and desktop icons just like Windows.
Need a web development program try bluefish. For torrents there is transmission. For video conversion try Winff. Everything that you need is there. If it's not there you can install it easily. Another difference between linux and Windows is when you try to install a program in Windows it tries to get you to get you to install other programs as well. With linux it installs only what you want and of course everything is free. Also linux is almost completely virus free. No need to have an antivirus program using up some of your precious ram. Other linux operating systems which I tried on my old dell dimension 2400 were Bodhi Linux and Mepis linux. I am currently using Mepis linux.
   Mepis linux is the closest thing to Windows yet. It tell you automatically about updates and helps you keep your system up to date. Also the menus and shortcuts are more vast than Antix but there is one drawback. When you install Antix linux all of your drivers are installed automatically. With Mepis you might find that the ethernet driver was not installed which will leave you without access to the ethernet to fix this problem. I was able to get around this problems because I connected my modem via usb and downloaded and installed the broadcom 4400 bm44 module which is your ethernet driver. Also there is some work involved in getting the module to load when you start your computer   You must add the line bm44 to your etc/module.conf configuration file. You can ad the bm44 module by opening a terminal as root and typing modprobe bm44.If you just want to keep it simple just start out with Antix linux which will install ALL of your Dell Dimension 2400 drivers automatically. You can download Antix linux here. By the way Mepis linux is actually a special edition of Antix linux so the two systems are basically interchangeable so to keep it simple may you should stick to Antix linux.
As always use Unebootin to mount the files you downloaded. You will need a usb drive to mount  the iso to. USB pen drives are very cheap you can find one for a cheap price at ebay. USB drives are invaluable since you can mount mutiple operating systems(and other files as well) one one drive. Just make sure that you buy one with enough space for your needs.Antix linux is less than 800 Mb to install. Now use Unebootin to mount the Antix iso file that you downloaded to your computer. Set up your Dell Dimension 2400 to boot from the usb drive.
Here are some general directions on how to do that. Once you boot the usb drive you can run Antix live from the pendrive and install directly it on your hard drive. The installer is very very simple and very very quick. I believe it's less than 20 minutes maybe even less. Make sure you give yourself a root password for administrative chores and whola you basically have a new speedy computer. Any problems you can reinstall in seconds or you can take a snapshot(backup) of your current set up and mount that to the pendrive or to a remote network drive. The possibilities are endless. The bottom line is your Dell Dimension(or any other old computer) will run much quicker and efficently than it did with any version of Windows that may have had on it. I have not used Windows in a couple of years. Besides they are a bunch of crooks who keep updating and outdating their operating systems in order to get more money out of their users. If you stick with Windows you will need to buy a new computer every couple of years to keep up with their advanced software. Meanwhile I am still enjoying my 2004 computer. To sum it up you can breathe life into any old computer that you have lying around with a linux operating system. You will be surprised by the results.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Installing Windows 7 on Dell Dimension 2400

Here are instructions on how to install a fresh copy of Windows 7 on a Dell Dimension 2400 desktop system.
The Dell Dimension 2400 is a low budget desktop which I believe was manufactured in 2004. I was given this system as a gift and was pleasantly surprised on how well it functions.
My problem is not with the computer itself  but with  the operating system it came with which was Windows XP. Now Windows XP is a wonderful system but prone to many viruses which force me to install and reinstall my system with a Windows XP Upgrade disk I purchased for 99 bucks a couple of years ago. The most annoying part of the reinstall is the need  to activate Windows by telephone because the product has been activated too many times. The last time I activated Windows XP by phone the lady was pretty rude to me so I will never activate Windows XP by phone again. I don't know why they put a limit on how many times you can activate Windows. It seems to me that if you paid for the product you should be able to install it as many time as you need especially considering how Windows XP is so susceptibe to crashes and viruses. Well anyway the instructions to install Windows 7 can be used to install it on any system you may have with a few modifications. To see of your system is compatible with Windows 7 you can run a compatibility test here.

Now back to installing Windows 7 on the Dell Dimension 2400. You must install the 32 bit version of Windows 7. The 64 bit version will not install on this system. Now we can do this honestly or dishonestly. You can purchase a 32 bit version of Windows 7 from places like Microsoft and Amazon or you can download a torrent for Windows 7 32 bit. If using a torrent you can remove Windows activation by using a program called removewatt. Okay so I cheated I used a torrent to install a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium. I used removewatt 2,2.6.0 to remove Windows activation. 
You must perform a new installation do not use the upgrade option. Use daemon tools to creat a virtual drive and mount the iso image that you downloaded . When you mount the downloaded file setup starts and you choose the option to do a new install. All of the drivers for the Dell Dimesnion 2400 are installed automatically except for two. The sound driver is quickly installed during one of the first automatic updates when you  use the system. The graphics driver created a huge problem. Windows 7 installs a generic graphics driver which forces you to  use a low resolution. After much searching I found a driver which works in Windows Xp compatibilty mode. You can download the graphic driver below:
Link was removed. Here is the new link:

Intel 82845G/GL/GE/PE/GV Graphics Controller

You must install this driver in window xp sp2 compatibility mode. Right click on the downloaded file and on the menu that pops up click properties. On the next menu click compatibilty. Select Windows XP service pack 2 and check run as administrator at the bottom of the list  Leave every else unchecked. Now run the install and everything should run fine.This is the only driver that will work for the graphics chipset. There is no Windows 7 graphics driver for  this system. You can download the audio driver here.  Everything else you should automatically be installed.
Below is a video explaining how to use compatibilty mode in Windows 7.