I have an old PC that I use to connect to the internet to retrieve emails
and to do light browsing. What upgrade path would you recommend from Windows
In this excerpt from
Answercast #64, I look at the difficulties involved in upgrading an old
Windows 2000 machine to a current operating system.
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Old 2000 machine
Well unfortunately, it’s not so much the operating system version that
you’re running that matters in making this kind of a decision. It really
depends on the kind of hardware: the power of the hardware that operating
system is running on.
My guess is: if the machine is a Windows 2000 contemporary machine (in other
words, it’s representative of the kinds of machines that were being sold when
Windows 2000 was the most current version of Windows), then I can pretty much
guarantee that it’s not going to run something like Windows 7, or Windows 8, or
even Windows Vista.
You may be able to find a copy of Windows XP and you may be able to get it
to run. I have to say “may” because Windows XP itself has grown over time and
even it’s own requirements (the minimum requirements to run effectively on a
system) have grown to a point where its original requirements really no longer
cut the grade for Windows XP.
So, with those versions of Windows out of the running… potentially? I
mean, you can certainly look at Windows XP if you’ve got enough memory. By
enough memory, I would suggest you have more than 256 MB of RAM – ideally, a
My guess is a machine that old probably can’t handle a gigbyte of RAM.
Open source systems
The other approach would be to start looking at Linux installations:
versions of the Linux operating system.
By and large, Linux has a smaller footprint than Windows. Even better, there
are versions of Linux out there, different distributions of Linux, that are designed specifically to have a smaller footprints than Windows.
You can certainly go out and give Ubuntu Linux a try; download their live CD (which I guess
now would be a live DVD) with the most recent release.
There are other versions. Puppy Linux is one that comes to mind. There’s,
gosh, Darn Small Linux (or something like that). Basically go out and Google for
Small Linux distribution. You’ll find a number of reasonable alternatives
that will probably run fairly well on that machine.
By “fairly well,” I mean that you’ll be able to continue doing what you’ve
been doing: email, light browsing. That kind of stuff is perfect for an old
machine like this.
Those are the thoughts.
My first thought for a machine of that era would in fact be to go to a
distribution of Linux. If Linux isn’t your thing, if it’s not something that
you want to invest the time to come up to speed on, then the only real hope, I
believe, is Windows XP. Even there, I think it’s gonna be kind of marginal.
Next from Answercast 64 – I’m having trouble getting access to a second hand machine. What can I do?