Old Intel D915GEV PC given it a new lease of life

At some point, I wanted to disposed my ageing desktop Intel D915GEV PC sitting quietly in a corner. With blue screens happening while running Windows 7 when I fired it up seems like it was the end of its usefulness and time to clear up some space. In one of the blue screen of death moments, I finally figured out it wasn’t a hardware issue but rather a misconfiguration of two installed hard drives with the master and slave settings. Since Windows 7 will lose support by early 2020, may as well delete the OS and experiment with multibooting of Linux and other OS.

For this old motherboard Intel D915GEV running a Pentium 4 single core 3Ghz, the CPU could get rather hot. I had some really big fans blowing into the casing and causing quite a racket in comparison with my other PCs!

Intel D915GEV PC motherboard fixing

I bought and custom made this PC way back in 2005. Then at some point gave it to the church for their OHP usage. It was later returned back when they bought a new PC and I left it in the corner for quite a long while. One of the staff took out a 1GB RAM because he wanted to boost his PC, and a video card was installed because they wanted a more stable display. However I didn’t have the drivers for this video card and together with a salvage misconfigured hard drive installed, I was getting a lot of blue screen of death when booting it up. Almost disposed it due to this blue screen issue but decided to see if I could give it a new lease of life for my tinkering hobby.

First things first, I replaced the faulty DVD-ROM and used an old DVD+/-RAM so that I could install new operating system. Unbelievable was the old power cables and SATA cable was breeding with fungus! Replacing it with some new cable, I could get the replacement DVD drive to work.

For old PCs and without the Windows drivers for the VGA card, it was better to install some light weight Linux. Linux has a good repository of drivers and would work well for old hardware. For my little home project, I decided to do an extreme multiboot OS system and settled on several OS.

FreeDOS 1.2 – this was the latest FreeDOS version, it was light and easy to install. I could run some old DOS software and installed some of my old nostalgia games, though some game hung and some I couldn’t get any sound to be played. For the ultimate disappointment with this FreeDOS, it wouldn’t run Windows 3.11 and I couldn’t figure out any workaround. I could probably install MS-DOS instead, but my installation floppy disk was nowhere to be found. Oh, well, just leave it like that for now.

Linux Lite 4 – this was a 64bit linux distro under the Ubuntu Debian fork. Their aim was for Windows users to ease into the Linux OS as an alternative. I found this distro to be very nice to use with easy to use and light desktop. The boot up though was quite slow. Maybe the 64 bit has something to do with it. Usually I felt the 32 bit OS runs faster than 64 bit OS even though 64 bit has better capability but need more processing resources to run smoothly. But once the Linux Lite boots up, most apps including the desktop environment ran smoothly without any lag.

Puppy tahr Linux – This distro is very light and packs with a lot of apps. It didn’t need any superuser requirements and perfect for editing configuration files. I used it a lot for resizing and making partitions for this multiboot setup. It may take awhile for new versions to be released, but this 2015 release was good and more than enough.

Android-x86 & Phoenix OS – next up was to install some desktop version of the mobile Android. Of the two, I could get Android-x86 to work, while the Phoenix OS a branch off the Android-x86 OS which was built for mobile gaming on desktop failed to boot at all. Overall, the Android-x86 was rather cranky and laggy and there was this irritating regular thumping noise which I overcame by playing music by installing Spotify. Heavier gaming apps like War Robots, Roblox, PUBG, wouldn’t run. So it was more for just interest. I should secure this OS because it was linked to my Google account just like my mobile and could give permission for those 2-factor authentication. However the lock screen was very buggy. So would need to figure out how best to secure this Android OS.

SLAX – was a super lightweight Linux distro based off Slackware. Installation was just a matter of copying all the files to a folder. Since Android and Slax boots off from within their own folder, I decided to place them all in the same partition. Slax Linux was quite barebone in comparison with what I’m use to for a Linux distribution. There was not much I could use it for and just kept it because I could install it.

Zorin OS – was another Linux distro that had the same idea of Linux Lite, to introduce Windows user to the Linux operating system. It was easy to use, but has the same long wait on the booting time just like Linux Lite. Probably due to the fact that it was also a 64 bit operating system could have something to do with it. Since it is similar to Linux Lite, I may look for another OS to replace it. I was considering Chrome OS but this OS didn’t play nice with multiboot. Perhaps Fedora might be a candidate, just so I will have all the three main branches of Linux!

Haiku OS – I would have thought the BeOS was gone when the company folded. I suppose someone kept this system alive and spun it into an open source project. The boot up process was very fast and the display was very clean. You could use it for general purpose as it has Libre Office app (just like Linux), web browser and several other tools. But for more hacking stuff, better leave it to Linux.

Intel D915GEV grub boot menu for multiboot OS

Multiboot various Linux OS with grub menu

So all-in-all, I got eight OS in multiboot configuration and was rather pleased about it. I decided to give this old PC a new lease of life and found a Corsair 1GB DDR2-533Mhz RAM from online shop Lazada and installed it to get back the dual memory channel support. Installing this made the Intel 915GEV desktop PC ran a little tad faster. Not too bad for a very old desktop computer.

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