Challenge: Help me put a perfectly functional 400 MHz PC to good use

Open Source only.  I have this 400 MHz Pentium with 256 MB of RAM.

What’s it good for? It has plenty of hard drive space, and I can add more.  But what do I use it for, and how?

I tried FreeNAS, and although I got it configured (a couple of times!) I couldn’t connect to it from any of my Windows PCs, so it didn’t help me very much.  I say I got it configured a couple of times because the HTML interface let’s me format the partition the OS is running on. Ouch.

That’s one of my biggest issues with Linux, and why it won’t be used in mainstream offices anytime soon – it lets me do really stupid stuff.  It lets me kill it, with a simple error, like typing hd02 instead of hd01.

 

So what could I use an underpowered stand alone machine for?

 

  1. Drive Space – that’s why I was looking at FreeNAS
  2. Remote backups of my Windows-based workstations, assuming this is available via Open Source (a quick search in SourceForge didn’t pop anything out at me)
  3. A dedicated video encoder/transcoder box.  I often need/want to change video from one format to another – and speed is rarely a factor.  Reliability is.

 

What else?  What else could I use this tired (but reliable) old box for?  (and please don’t tell me to throw it away – I took it from my friend who was throwing it away after he bought a new Vista machine – my goal is to save it, not sacrifice it!)

 

I’m really interested to see what you come up with.

 

Rob

Comments

  1. And there is no such thing as a “simple linux distro”

    That depends: Linux’ simplicity is inversely proportial to its user’s simplicity.
    (Paul’s Linux Rules: rule #12)

    (i.e. the smarter you are, the simpler Linux becomes).

  2. Hmmm – since FreeNAS is so small, I assumed they TOOK OUT a lot of the overhead.

    And there is no such thing as a “simple linux distro” 🙂

    (ducks and runs)

  3. it won’t be used in mainstream offices anytime soon – it lets me do really stupid stuff. It lets me kill it, with a simple error, like typing hd02 instead of hd01.

    NO, it does NOT allow you to do that in a mainstream office environment.

    Unless you allow all your users to login as root. In fact, Linux gives the root admin MUCH greater flexibility in how to protect his/her users from doing hare-brained things than Windows. And just as in Windows, as superuser you’re supposed to know what you’re doing. You can do pretty stupid and disasterous things in a windows dos box too! Even as a USER! Linux is inherently MUCH safer in that regard than Windows.

    Anyway, just put a simple linux distro on it, enable samba, and you’re off… you can map that disk from any machine. Do it all the time. You don’t need all the overhead from freenas.