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Thread: Using old machines today...

  1. #1

    Question Using old machines today...

    I was wondering, how low can you go for cpu and memory to still use
    a computer save on the internet these days? What OS would run save?
    The first thing that comes up to me is some Linux version...

    I know you can forget about youtube and that kind of stuff on an pentium 1.
    But checking your email in a save way, is it still doable on old hardware?

    Somehow I think MS-DOS with windows 3.11 would be save due "security by obscurity".
    But I think the protocols of today won't be supported

    Regards, Roland
    WTB: RX8E / M8357 and Case for Altair 8800

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Guisborough, England


    I assume your use of the word 'save' should be 'safe' as in secure?

    For quite a while I was using DOS to access the internet, via the Arachne browser, and for many things, this was still working quite well. Using a modem and dial-up. problems started when ISP upgraded their system, and dial-up was no longer supported, I got by for a while, but finally went to broadband at my end, which made things more difficult. Now using a later machine, but sticking with XP which still provides a (reasonably) proper Command prompt system.

    As far as I'm concerned, I much preferred the old way of accessing emails, and the access to newsgroups was much better. None of the Windoze variants are as useful. And, as you say, the old way was pretty safe as I don't think any 'hackers' were bothering with dial-up type systems any more. And of course, and 'virus' that came through would have been like a fish that jumped out of the water and landed in the middle of a sandy beach!

    Arachne had the ability to NOT try to process any images, just the HTML. If you needed to see an image, you could click on the marker for it. This sped things up a LOT.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Marietta, GA


    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Huisman View Post
    "security by obscurity".
    But I think the protocols of today won't be supported
    I'm actually posting this from Windows 95 using slightly patched SeaMonkey 1.1.20pre, but let me tell you there are all kinds of problems with most web sites these days. Most "modern" web sites only use HTML as a container for manipulation by javascript, and if even one line of code fails - which literally happens if you use a browser that is even a few months old, then all you get is a blank page or junk.

    But the most scary thing is the overuse of HTTPS. A huge chunk of web sites completely fail to even try and load now. Apparently they have jacked up their servers so they require some newer encryption method, even though this browser supports many that should be perfectly fine. Supposedly HTTPS servers should be able negotiate an encryption method from the available suite of methods, but they don't seem to want to do that. A web site works fine and even renders OK one day, and the next day there is nothing but a big fat error about disable security protocols.

    Even Windows XP is becoming problematic as browser vendors drop support. I've already run in to sites that fail to work on the last official Pale Moon browser for XP. There is a newer unofficial build of Pale Moon, but that has other problems. Firefox still has some support with their LTS branch, but that won't last much longer and Firefox has become a mess anyway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    New Zealand
    Blog Entries


    Interesting question. I guess you could pick a system then see what you can do with it.

    Classes of system would be something like:

    Dos only
    Windows 9x
    Windows NT/2K
    Windows XP up
    BSD of some sort
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by SomeGuy View Post
    But the most scary thing is the overuse of HTTPS.
    Precisely. Had a long thread with an Win3.1 user on a few weeks ago and he just couldn't figure out why the 16-bit browsers weren't working on that site. The HTTPS protocols have made older browsers useless. Still using XP myself with FF30 and a few things don't work, but nothing I can't deal with (at this time, anyway)...

  6. #6


    I have an older Pentium (500mhz?) and under the more recent supported Firefox on xp it is actually quite good at web browsing, just no videos. Wouldn't trust it to do my banking, but it's more than proficient for web surfing and downloading games. Still works but generally less nicely under 98SE, my other OS on it.

  7. #7


    If you can compile the line mode browser, basically anything that can output to a screen or tty, can browse the web. Although it does have issues with some long webpages. It also has some problems with some of those new modern extravagances like forms. Email is similar you can just use the program "mail". If you can configure a server to use telnet instead of ssh, there are many options. None of these are going to provide any encryption. If you accessed mail via UCCP, you may be able to make it secure.

    But if you can use a modern system as a proxy with some translation software, and use a low CPU utilization encryption system, such as one-time pads, the worlds your oyster.
    Looking for: OMTI SMS Scientific Micro Systems 8610 or 8627 ESDI ISA drive controller, May also be branded Core HC, Please PM me if you want to part with one.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Fairfield, Ohio


    Sorry for the thread-jack but I am replying to your "Wanted" note. This may be of interest to others.

    There is a company ( which makes 8800 clones. The (modern) hardware replicates Intel 8080a behavior, and they claim software written for the original 8800 will run correctly on this system.

    The base unit looks and acts exactly like an 8800 and includes goodies like 64k RAM, ROM sockets, two rs-232 ports, an Okidata printer port controller, and apparently both 8" and 5.25" drives are emulated in non-volatile memory.

    Apparently the base unit (assembled) comes in around $621 US, not counting shipping.

  9. #9


    Anything newer than the year 2001 or so (K6-3, Pentium 2/3, Duron, Athlon) , with 500mhz or faster CPU, 512mb ram and Xubuntu 16.04 (latest long term release) will do basic web browsing, email, forums, and the like. If you hit that magic 1000mhz mark, you may even be able to watch YouTube on low quality. I have a Duron 1200 with 1 gig ram running Xubuntu 16.04 as a computer in my garage to look up stuff while I'm working on the cars. It does the trick quite nicely, and can handle Youtube in 360p most of the time.

    That being said, I've also used my K6-2 475 with 512mb and Windows 98 to browse the web occasionally. The biggest problem I run into there is lack of compatibility from the older browsers. I'm sure that machine would do Okay on Xubuntu if I wanted to go that route, but it's my Tweener and isn't really meant to fill the internet role for more than downloading a file or two to toss onto an older storage medium.
    Current Vintage Equipment:
    IBM Thinkpad 390, IBM Aptiva A12, IBM PS/2 Model 25-004. Compaq Contura 4/25C.
    Asus P5A-B Socket 7 Box, Tandy 1000RLX-HD "B" & 1200-2FD, VIC20, Zenith ZFL-181-93, Packard Bell 300SX.
    Looking for: 286 Laptop, 386 Laptop, C64. Packard Bell Legend 20CD.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Blog Entries


    I assume that we're not speaking theoretically?


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