[lug] Recommendations For Older Hardware?

Robert Racansky robert.racansky at gmail.com
Wed Aug 4 15:53:41 MDT 2010

On Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 10:45 AM, Robert Racansky
<robert.racansky at gmail.com> wrote:
> Despite the subject line of this e-mail, this isn't about where to
> dump my old unwanted PCs, global warming, or inviting Jeffrey Haemer
> over for dinner.
> What Linux distributions would work well on old hardware, and have
> Windows-compatible RDP/RDC clients available.
> Since you can get VMWare ESXi for free at
> http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere-hypervisor/index.html
> (registration required, blah blah blah) , I've been thinking about
> setting up one central server at home to run virtual desktops, and use
> cheap, old hardware as thin clients to access the virtual machines on
> the ESXi hosts.
> If this works out for me, I'd probably recommend it for all the people
> I've done home/tech support for over the years.

I don't think I was exactly clear on what I wanted to accomplish, so
let me elaborate.

I'm looking for a light-footprint host operating system, that would
then use VMWare Player to run a Windows guest operating system.  As
much as it pains me,  getting some people to switch from Windows is
not worth the hassle.

As I mentioned earlier, I was thinking about going with ESXi, but that
requires a 64-bit CPUs, and most of the older machines I'm working
with have 32-bit CPUs.

The reason I'd want to run Windows as  a guest in a virtual machine is

(1)  if something goes wrong, I can re-install the VM from a snapshot.
 I've never trusted Windows System Restore.

(2)  as a way to introduce users to non-Windows operating systems, by
having other guest VMs installed on the same system.  "If you just
need to get on the web to check your e-mail, or Windows is too slow,
try  using this _____ Linux virtual machine instead."

(3)  If something goes wrong with Windows, and it inevitably will, the
host operating system can be used to test/verify network connectivity.

Since a guest virtual machine, most likely WindowsXP or Windows 7,
will be the user's primary OS, the host operating system needs to be
lightweight, stable, and easy enough to support that even I -- with
very little Linux experience -- can do so if need be.

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