CrunchBang Linux Installation on Old PC Hardware

In a previous post, I installed WinXP onto a dying Dell desktop. The age of PC hardware is measured in dog years. Mine has a Pentium III 933 MHz processor, to give you some idea. That is quite old. It’s older than WinXP. Installing an old version of Windows onto even older hardware is rather like putting a 500 pound man into a small car with a 90 hp engine and expecting it to keep up with highway traffic. Even after some tweaks, such as disabling unnecessary services, it had a tendency to freeze. It was intolerable. WinXP had to go.

I also described my attempt to install CrunchBang Linux. The effort failed because the size of the ISO image was over 700 MB. This meant the image could not be burned onto a regular CD, instead of a DVD. Also, the PC was incapable of booting from a USB thumb-drive.

Not wanting to give up, I knew there had to be some way to do it. I found a workaround solution in the Crunchbang community forum. It works by first booting a stripped-down version of Debian. The ISO image was approximately 260 MB, which is small enough to fit on a CD.

Then you run a netinstall script that will download and install packages of the latest version of Crunchbang Linux (Waldorf) from the internet. A pretty clever trick. This was my first time installing Debian. I chose “Expert Mode” because none of the other options worked. People say that installing Debian can be somewhat of an intimidating process and now I know why. I stumbled through and somehow managed to get it installed successfully.

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CrunchBang is said to be a minimalist distribution. It has a spartan and clean visual look, with a dark charcoal gray color scheme. Performing tasks on the desktop has a certain “weightless” quality. It’s similar to how Google Chrome feels compared to the “heaviness” of Internet Explorer.

Overall, it was designed to run efficiently on old hardware with sparse resources. CrunchBang is one of the coolest Linux distributions I have seen so far and I’m quite pleased. Having installed it on my old Dell was a small miracle. My next goal is to find a way to console into Cisco devices from this new platform.

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