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Thread: Old computers to the rescue!

  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by TH2002 View Post
    Have to attend Google Meets and Zoom meetings (seriously, both of those platforms freaking suck) on my Winblows 10 laptop. Aside from that, I can easily get by with any computer running XP SP3 and Firefox 52.9.0 ESR.

    The latest version of Chrome that runs on XP is even more outdated but I don't bother to use that spyware anyway. Opera also works fine for the most part, but some pages like YouTube take a LONG time to load.

    Windows 2000 with the previously mentioned updates is pretty usable as well. I've been on Win2K since 2014 and I've just loved it since.

  2. #12
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    I won't argue that 2K wasn't a great system--for years, it was my favorite--I only reluctantly moved to XP. But hardware moves on and XP has better hardware support. There used to be a package that would allow 2K to accept some of the XP API calls, I don't recall what it was called, but I used it.

  3. #13

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    I think 2k was the most reliable windows I've used. Honorable mention to NT 3.51

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    I won't argue that 2K wasn't a great system--for years, it was my favorite--I only reluctantly moved to XP. But hardware moves on and XP has better hardware support. There used to be a package that would allow 2K to accept some of the XP API calls, I don't recall what it was called, but I used it.
    Early on there was an XP API wrapper that used a handful of stub DLLs which would forward certain calls to the actual XP version of the DLL. You had to edit the knowndlls list in the registry so you could use the hacked ones. But this practice is made obsolete by the extended kernel project which adds functions directly to many of the OS DLLs. Even some functions from Vista are included. There are also special releases of Visual C redistributables for Win2000 and .NET framework installers. DirectX 9.0c can be updated to the final release by manually adding the files. Altogether that seems to put the API support fairly close to XP, although I know some things like raw-input are still missing.

    There is an 'extended core' which is supposed to expand hardware support. I guess it is for newer Intel chipset boards. I installed it once just to see if it would fix USB-audio but sadly it did not. However I do use the nVidia driver for Win2000 with my GTX 650Ti.

    Looking in the other direction, Win2000 was the last one to support the NEC PC-98 platform, and shipped with drivers for ISA Sound Blaster 16...

    BTW, yesterday I tried out SeaMonkey 2.49.5 on Win2000 and it is working.

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by bakemono View Post
    BTW, yesterday I tried out SeaMonkey 2.49.5 on Win2000 and it is working.
    The latest version of K-Meleon will run under Windows 2000 and You can get up to Firefox 48. Not bad i'd say.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tipc View Post
    I don't recognize anything I own over 10 years old as useful for anything at all....
    Broadly, a good principle, but I'm not sure that personally I find all that much positive use in newer systems either! All that bloat, all those frenetic updates and patches, and where old systems often require a lot of hardware maintenance, stuff today is not immune to software idiosyncrasies and learning curves either.

    Which brings me to my own example of an old computer to the rescue. Sort of.

    A 1987-vintage Z88. Already that'll have people sniggering, but for a go-anywhere system with a good interface, instant-on OS, and pretty comprehensive built-in software, I've found it hard to beat. Added to that, the lack of email and internet distractions means that not only can I use it anywhere, but can be very productive with it. And a simple cable and freebie software has it happily talking to both Mac and PC in the office.

    It's a bit quirky, but still supported. Parts are available, it has an (albeit, small) developer community, and has a full-sized keyboard, runs all day on 4 AA batteries, and weighs less than 2 pounds.

    Admittedly, I have other 1980's computers I would be reluctant to trust for anything serious, but as an extension to my office systems, the Z88 is in daily use.

  7. #17

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    I think "usefulness" is subjective and dependant on many factors specific to the individual use-case and the individual user.

    For myself personally, I harbour a very special skillset in using pre-Pentium hardware really well, and have a bit more knowledge than most people in that area. So to me, I can literally get by on a 486 DX4 system of some sort with little to no trouble save for one or two things (E-mail and social media in particular). So for me, sometimes even an 8088 can be pretty handy if it's loaded with the right software, right drivers, and tuned properly for my use.

    But for other people, the things I do from memory/experience is not something they possess, so to them I'm just some weirdo trying to make a giant paperweight do some "insane" things. Some people still get by on XP just fine, or even as we see here, Windows 2000. I'm not 100% sure but Toastytech was still doing cool stuff with Windows 95 on an Athlon the last time I read the site. Then you have crazies like me who can get Windows For Workgroups or bare DOS to do productive and cool things other than gaming. I'm not saying certain other people can't pull off cool stuff on those other platforms - another part of it is the whole thought of "why would you want to?". For me, it's exploration and showing off, and also getting some useful things done.

    A 486 DX4 or even early Pentium with Windows 95 OSR 2.5 can be a real tool in my hands - I actually got my DX4 to do multitrack digital audio using Cakewalk 5 pro audio because I bumped up the system disk to an SSD and put on the PIO drivers for my HDD controller card. That's pretty high up there for a 486 to be pulling off. Also seems I can get the tweaked version of Thunderbird to work on my Google Account on there too. That's why I own FIVE of these (home-built 486 DX4-100, NEC Versa 40EC, NEC Versa M/75, NEC Versa P/75, and an NEC Ready 9522). the M/75 and DX4-100 almost count as daily drivers because of how much and what I use them for. The P/75 and Ready also are quite useful.....but I need to finish building them "up" first.

  8. #18
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    It depends on what you need to do. Many EDA (if not most) tools require a 64 bit platform. No way you're going to get that running on an 8088 or 80486 or even a P4.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    It depends on what you need to do. Many EDA (if not most) tools require a 64 bit platform. No way you're going to get that running on an 8088 or 80486 or even a P4.
    Actually there is still some support out there for Circuitmaker 2000 which runs on Win9x and 486 hardware - which I use for designing guitar Pedals and laying out a more professional style circuit board. Have found a few chinese board makers who will still take gerber files from that program. Granted, I'm mostly just building for myself and don't need to print out 10,000 PCB's and hour like BOSS/Roland or Behringer does, but also for some newer parts (Belton Brick Reverb bricks and other stuff like that made post 2000) - luckily that program has tools to make your own parts if needed be.

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad-Mike View Post
    Have found a few chinese board makers who will still take gerber files from that program.
    I thought Gerber files were tool agnostic. Why would it matter what system generated the Gerber file? Or have the Gerber files changed over the years to where an older version is no longer being supported by board makers?

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