If you have an old computer at home that is not being used currently, it might still have some durability to be used in other Operating Systems (OS) like Linux. If all its parts are in working condition, it can be resurrected it as a music server, a writing station or a useful unit with a lightweight Linux distribution.

Since the start of the 21st century, Linux has become a user friendly OS and some Linux developers have built distributions that are also designed to run on older computers. Puppy Linux, antiX, DSL, Slitaz and Lubuntu are versions designed for older hardware.

How to run Linux on an old computer

The four versions above are live CDs and can be run directly from the CD without installation or can be installed to the hard drive.

Instructions to run Linux without Installing

Step 1: To begin with, you are required to download the .iso file to your Linux version through Distrowatch or from the distribution’s website. It is recommended to use a small Linux distribution with a lightweight graphical user interface for older versions.

Step 2: Now you need to burn the .iso to a black CD, which can be done by accessing the Tools menu (most probably) and then selecting the option of ‘burn as image’.

Step 3: Now the new Linux CD must be inserted into the CD-ROM bay of the computer that you wish to run. You need to boot up the computer and it must go directly into Linux running from the CD.

Step 4: As your Linux system boots, keep your eyes on the screen. Depending on your distribution, user and root passwords may appear on the screen just for a brief duration. It is recommended to write them down as you would require your root password in case you decide to install the system to your hard drive.

Step 5: Explore and get the feel of the Linux system. You can mount the hard drive, save files to it and edit these files even if you are running Linux directly from the CD-ROM.

Instructions for Installation

Step 1: To begin the installation procedure, start the computer with the live CD in the drive; and it booting directly into Linux.

Step 2: Look for the install menu command and click on it after finding it. You can find it in the System submenu or something that is related, depending on the distribution.

Step 3: By following the on screen prompts, you now have to create a new partition during the installation. You can use this option in case you want to keep the computer’s existing operating system in a dual boot setting. When asked, set up a swap partition in order to make it about twice the size of your existing RAM.

Step 4: Follow the prompts to install your Linux system.

Step 5: Follow the prompts again, to proceed with creating your boot loader when asked during the installation process. A boot loader is useful especially when you dual-boot different operating systems with your own computer.

Step 6: Reboot the system, remove your CD-ROM from it and test out your new Linux system.