I've recently come into stewardship of a Dell Inspiron 3000 laptop and been told to "do something with it". From a cursory look at it I've discerned it's a 133MHz Pentium-MMX with 63MB RAM and 3.25GB harddrive. It has a nice little "Designed for Windows 95" sticker on it, and comes with the install CD for that. I might consider putting a Windows partition on it as an old-game platform, but for doing anything responsible with it I'll have to go with some F/OSS OS given how old the thing is.
First question is: what flavour of Linux or BSD do I put on it? My usual first choice, Gentoo, is probably out just because of the diskspace needed for a Portage tree. How slow it'd be to compile everything by hand is a second disadvantage in this case. Although since most modern graphical programs I'd want to install (Firefox, Thunderbird, jEdit, OpenOffice) require a faster processor, few of those compilations would be all that large. Come to think of it, I may not even bother putting X11 on it at all. My usual second choice, Debian, might still be a good candidate. —Ooh, shiny; just found this site on putting Linux on an Inspiron (though it's largely RedHat biased)...
Second question is: what should I do with the durn thing? The person who gave it to me was casually hoping to be able to turn it into a glorified typewriter that could be used for some light webbrowsing and a light jukebox, but realizes that the thing is old enough it prolly can't be, and so is looking for something "interesting". And, of course, anything "interesting" by me is probably going to involve some measure of being able to code on it, or at the least run code I've written elsewhere.
With any Linux/BSD system on it we could certainly do some glorified typewriting ala text editing, though doing wordprocessing may be more difficult. For webbrowsing, the thing comes with a card modem and a card NIC is easy enough to come by, so it's theoretically possible. Firefox requires 233MHz P-II/AMD K6-III and prefers 500MHz, so that's out. My old fave ELinks could prolly work, though it may not offer all he's looking for, and few people design their webpages to be text-only legible these days. It has enough disk space for a jukebox— 1GB is about 16.67 hours of music in mp3s, so not a lot by today's standards, but enough for some tunes while typing out your latest manuscript or code in a coffeeshop. The question is whether there's an mp3/m4a player that can run adequately on 133MHz, or at the very least if there's a codec/library that can— from that a simple player isn't too hard to write.
If you can think of anything else interesting to do with it, I'm highly suggestible. In particular, if you have any thoughts on what OS to go with, a way around the diskspace limitations of Portage, or any mp3/m4a players/libraries that'd suffice, I'd be quite interested.
( Unrelated lyrics to Hefner's When the Angels Play Their Drummachines )
( Unrelated meme )