Challenge: Find a linux distro that works

I have a very VERY picky computer in my inventory. This computer is very selective on which operating system it wants to run. I've been on a quest to find ANY operating system that will actually run/install on it. The machine will defy explanation as it gives all sort of various errors while trying to run or install different operating systems , despite the machine being very basic and unremarkable.

List of working OS's

Original install of Windows 98
Completely fluke install of Windows XP (no idea how it did it)
Damn small linux running on a cd

List of os's that have various install errors

Puppy linux 4.3.1
Vector linux 7.1
Old version of ubuntu (forgot number but supposedly compatible)
Tiny linux (from two different boot cds)
Windows Fundamentals for legacy pc's
Windows xp (yes it only ever installed once , have no idea how it did it)
Windows 2000
Tiny XP (from two different boot cds)
antix 14.4
debian etch 4.0 r0

Os's I'm skipping
lubuntu (requires PAE support)
linux lite (requirements too high)
Beos (won't have driver support)
mac os (obvious)
Command line os's like DOS ect... (I'm sure they'll work I just don't have a desire to use them)
Anything that won't run on it's low specs

Challenge: Can you find an OS this picky old machine will actually run. I'll try them all and update the list as I go.

Machine: Packard Bell m415

Lubuntu and Linux Lite are good and lightweight.

Lubuntu is a no go , requires PAE support.

Linux lite also has high system requirements the pc won't meet.

I kinda doubt you'll find a Distro for a machine that old. the kernel itself probably uses more memory than what that machine has.

the lowest specs I've seen for most lightweight distros is like 1GiB of RAM at the most and like 5 GiBs of storage. which is realistically something from the Win 2000 to XP days.


It's not linux, but have you looked into Net BSD.

Well that's why it's a challenge!

Xp requires only 96 mb to install officially. However modded versions will install with 32-64. When running the machine uses about 70mb of ram.

Have not , I'll have to try it!

It's not a challenge if the PC itself doesn't meet the requirements of Linux. the lowest Processor is a 500mhz core processor.

I'm shit at Linux, but I worked with a guy who would always tell me about his various adventures installing CrunchBang (#!) on PII and K6 machines with 256MB of RAM. Maybe give that a try?

Edit: And an early 2000's Palm.

the machine has 24mbs of RAM lol

the PC came out in 97

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The Palm had 32MB, so hey it might just work.

Well even my PII machine had 384MB, and that was from 98.

Damn Small Linux.

Only needs 16mb of ram

Yes DSL was succesful when run off a cd.

While it's not Linux, I have had success running OpenBSD on very minimal hardware.

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This one has 96 so a big upgrade from stock , also the cpu was swapped to a 233mhz cpu as well , it's also using 20-40gb drives so space will be ok.

The cpu requirements of vector linux's current distro are anything that has PAE support which includes a 233mhz pentium 2. The pentium 1 is the same speed however no PAE so that's where this will be a toughy.

seeing lots of bsd recommendations I'll have to try it and see how it goes.

Keep in mind, most of these BSD distros are very minimal out of the box. The beauty of this is you can install a minimal (and snappy) GUI on top of it and have something that is usable. If you have a network adapter, you might be able to build something that is even web capable!

Here is a good OpenBSD guide:

does bsd not come with a gui as is?

It has the super basic and old school X Window GUI. Most people promptly upgrade, i3 window manager is a popular choice.

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I wonder how hard it is getting a gui version of bsd installed. guessing it won't be too simple, I'll still try it