Setting Up an Old Machine as a Web Server

In summary, -The old machine is too old to run Windows ME, and Ubuntu or xubuntu are not viable options-An alternate install of Ubuntu or xubuntu may be more suitable-Xubuntu is probably pushing the memory limit for 64mb-There are several lightweight window managers available, and Arch Linux can be installed as a minimal system-If the memory checker fails, try removing any unnecessary cards
  • #1
I have an old machine, that I want to set up as a webserver (just to play around with, so I know what I'm doing before I go and buy a new machine for it). Problem is, it's too old. I was wondering if someone here could suggest an operating system which might run on it. It has a 667 MHz Intel Celeron processor, with 64 MB SDRAM, and 20GB hard drive space. It has Windows ME on it right now, is my best bet to just keep using it with that? I would prefer some distro of linux, so I can log in remotely, and won't actually need a monitor/keyboard/etc. attached. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
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  • #2
ubuntu server, simple install no graphics easily will easily run in 64Mb ram.
  • #3
According to the" it requires 256MB of RAM. I did try installing it, and it seemed to lock up during the install (I suppose it could have just been going really slow, I tried waiting but it didn't seem to be doing anything).

I just booted from the cd, and selected the "install" option, is there a different way of doing this for older machines?

Thanks for your response.
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  • #4
Doing some reading elsewhere, apparently I would be better off with an Xubuntu alternate install disk. I'll try this, unless someone advises against it before it finishes downloading.
  • #5
That's why I said server, the server version only has the text installer and doesn't install X.
Running X on 64Mb is a bit painful,

The server also makes installing web server, dns etc a little easier - it offers you a menu of typical server configs. It can of course install all the regular Ubuntu packages and run any Linux software
  • #6
Sorry, I wasn't clear. the one that I already tried was the server install. I'm now downloading the alternate installs for both ubuntu and xubuntu, to try.
  • #7
Even xubuntu is probably pushing it for 64mb,
There is 'puppy linux' a very small footprint linux normally used on USB keys which will run in that little memory.

I was pretty sure that server had a text mode install (hit f4 for options at startup)
  • #8
I've resurrected an original Pentium w/ 32M using DSL, and it's advertised as running on as little as 16M.


It's a Debian/Knoppix derivative. It comes with several usable, lightweight window managers (JVM is default), and very light browser called Dillo.
  • #9
Running X on 64Mb is a bit painful,

It's probably the window manager that is bringing you down. Use something very light, like JWM, Fluxbox, dwm, or XMonad.
  • #10
You could use Arch Linux, which is a minimal system after installation but afterwards you can customize it as you want by installing new packages. As already mentioned, instead of using Gnome or KDE, I would suggest using a more lightweight window manager such as Fluxbox or XFCE.
  • #11
I don't need a window manager, text based terminal is fine. It will be a webserver with no monitor/keyboard/mouse attached. I tried the most minimal install options on both Ubuntu server and the Ubuntu alternate cd, with no luck. It gets as far as "Detecting disks and all other hardware" then the screen blinks for a while, and then goes black, and startes printing the word "killed" repeatedly. This happens for both server and alternate.
  • #12
Sounds like some homework that it can't detect correctly.
The only similair issues I have had is with the power management on some laptops, is there an f4 option for disable homework detection.
You could also try removing any unnecessary card before trying.
  • #13
The only things I can remove are the network card, and the floppy drive (cd, hard drive, and ram would seem to be important for the install, only one hard drive), I have removed both and am trying again, I'll post back on how it goes.
  • #14
Now it got as far as "Starting the partition manager". The status bar kept restarting at 0, and would get to anywhere from 40-95% before restarting. Figuring it could be a problem with the partition table, or something similar, I'm dbanning my hard drive now, and then will try again.
  • #15
Now the same status bar ("Starting up the partitioner" is what it actually says) restarted a few times, and then locked up at 50%. I may need to try a different distro.
  • #16
Sounds like something is bust
Might be worth running the memory checker, there is probably a memtest option on the boot menu.
  • #17
Debian netinst worked! Now to figure out how to set up the webserver. Thanks for everyone who gave advice!

1. How do I set up an old machine as a web server?

To set up an old machine as a web server, you will need to install a web server software such as Apache or Nginx. You will also need to configure the server's network settings and set up a domain name. Finally, you will need to upload your website files to the server and ensure they are accessible through the domain name.

2. What are the minimum system requirements for a web server?

The minimum system requirements for a web server will vary depending on the web server software and the amount of traffic your website will receive. Generally, a web server will need at least 1GB of RAM and a decent processor to handle basic website hosting.

3. Can I use an old machine as a web server for a high-traffic website?

It is not recommended to use an old machine as a web server for a high-traffic website. Old machines may not have enough processing power or memory to handle a large amount of website traffic, resulting in slow loading times and potential crashes. It is best to use a dedicated server or cloud hosting for high-traffic websites.

4. Do I need to have a static IP address for my web server?

Having a static IP address is not necessary for setting up a web server. You can use a dynamic DNS service to map your domain name to your server's changing IP address. However, having a static IP address can make it easier to manage your server and ensure consistent access.

5. How do I secure my old machine web server?

To secure your old machine web server, you should regularly update the web server software and any other software running on the server. You should also use a firewall to restrict access to your server and enable HTTPS for secure data transfer. It is also recommended to regularly backup your website files and server configuration to prevent data loss in case of a security breach.

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