Install Debian 5 on an Old Computer

This is an obsolete old computer, probably 2004’s BIOS, Intel 865G motherboard, P4 2.4G CPU, Radeon 9600 128M graphics card, 1G RAM, 20G IDE hard drive. Here is a simple record of what I installed Debian 5(Debian Lenny) on this computer, and Torcs, ManiaDrive 3D racing game, AstroMenace 3D air combat game. And Google Chrome, Firefox browser, office software. Note this is simply records, maybe not very accurate.

In fact, this computer can run the latest version of the Linux distributions, maybe a bit slow. I ran Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 Live USB on it successfully. But I installed Debian 5 (2009 released), for two reasons: First, I searched on AMD graphics website, for my Radeon 9600 graphics card closed source driver is ati-driver-installer-9-3-x86.x86_64.run which issued at 2009, I tried, it can not even support Debian 6. I tested, it supports Debian 5 (2.6.26 kernel) and Ubuntu 8.04. And I can’t play several 3D games mentioned above without the 3D acceleration feature provided only by closed-source driver. The second reason is the old Linux should be more smoothly run on this computer. Debian 5 stopped support at about 2012, and it exists some vulnerabilities now definitely, but I just play on this computer, so do not consider this problem.

The first is install Debian 5 operating system, because I have created a tar.gz archive of Debian 5 system files, so unpack the archive directly to the hard drive. Then use Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 Live USB start the computer, modified “/boot/grub/menu.lst”, “/etc/fstab” and “/etc/mtab”(maybe not necessary) and so on, and then mount –bind the /dev directory to Debian’s /dev, refer to the LFS documentation for detail(Linux From Scratch – Version 7.6 – 6.2 Preparing Virtual Kernel File Systems.): http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/lfs/view/stable/chapter06/kernfs.html. Then, chroot to Debian 5 operating system, installed grub information to the master boot sector of hard drive with “grub-install” command. Used “update-grub” command to update the grub menu. Note, because I bound “/dev” of Ubuntu Live USB directory, you may need modify “/boot/grub/device.map” file of Debian 5, for example: change “/dev/hda” into “/dev/sda”. Otherwise, “grub-install /dev/sda” may fail. In addition, you can also reboot with Live USB, then modify the parameters of Grub boot item to enter into Debian 5, then install grub information to the master boot sector and update Grub menu.

Reboot, perhaps need some adjustments in order to enter newly installed Debian 5. And then modify the repository source, execute “sudo apt-get update” and “sudo apt-get dist-upgrade” upgrade Debian 5 to the latest version. Unsupported Debian version has a different repository source, I used is below:

deb http://archive.debian.org/debian/ lenny main contrib non-free
deb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian/ lenny main contrib non-free
deb http://archive.debian.org/debian-backports/ lenny-backports main contrib non-free
deb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian-backports/ lenny-backports main contrib non-free
deb http://archive.debian.org/debian-backports/ lenny-backports-sloppy main contrib non-free
deb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian-backports/ lenny-backports-sloppy main contrib non-free

Search on AMD’s site, the latest video card driver support Raedon 9600 is “ati-driver-installer-9-3-x86.x86_64.run”, downloaded and installed it. Under Debian 5, the driver can not support backports kernel 2.6.32, it supports 2.6.26 only. If you want to uninstall Raedon closed source driver, you can: “sudo sh /usr/share/ati/fglrx-uninstall.sh”, refer to here for detail: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1056539 and http://askubuntu.com/questions/68306/how-do-i-remove-the-proprietary-ati-drivers. Rebbot after the installation, you can see ATI Catalyst settings in the bottom of “Applications” start menu, adjust graphics performance and quality with it.

Enter the “apt-get install torcs” on the console directly can install torcs 1.3.0 3D racing game. you can also download the latest version(1.3.6) of the source code from sourceforge.net to compile and install. The configuration required “./configure –disable-xrandr” on my machine to compile. But, finally, I found the old version seem play more smoothly.

ManiaDrive is a single-track 3D racing game focus on skills, it is said to simulate the TrackMania racing game. You can download the official statically compiled package online directly, unzip it and run. Maybe need “apt-get install oss-compat” package for sound.

This old computer can run the latest version of 3D air combat game AstroMenace compiled from source smoothly. According to guidelines in http://www.viewizard.com/download.php, I used svn download the latest version of the source code. Then, according to ReadMe.txt in source packages to compile and install game.

Did some online search, the latest version of Google Chrome support Debian 5 is: google-chrome-stable-12-0-742-112-r90304-i386.deb. I can not find the older version of Google Chrome on the Google official site. We need search it on the Internet.

The latest version of Firefox can be used. Downloaded from its official website.

I know there are only “WPS Office” and “YOZO Office” can support Chinese well on the Linux platforms. “WPS” can not run on Debian 5. The latest Personal Edition of “YOZO Office”(YozoOffice-7.0-0299.i686.deb) can run on Dedbian 5 smoothly. Need install openjdk-6-jre to run “YOZO Office”.

Thus, this old obsolete computer was recycled ok.

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