Blender Receives Windows 98 Updates, Dogmatism Ensues

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Do you still use Windows 98? Don’t be embarrassed, I still use a trusty Win98SE install on one of my systems and I have no intention of changing it anytime soon.

The issue of Windows 98 as a legacy system came up recently when there was report on BlenderNation about a new patch for the latest Blender release which restored its compatibility with Windows 98. There were a few wise ones who saw it for what it was, another extra bit to make an open source piece of software compatible with a larger range of platforms, but the majority of the adolescents complained and gibed at all the losers who were still using the old piece of rubbish that is Windows 98 … after all EVEN Microsoft doesn’t support it anymore. Pff! The remaining rabble complained about why the entire world uses Windows at all when Ubuntu Linux is there to save all our souls.

I tried posting a comment to the ever growing thread of responses to add another vote to the saner side of the “discussion”, but it probably got lost in the site moderation queue somewhere. So, I thought I’d jot down my thoughts here instead.

You really can’t discount the value of Windows 98 in many situations. While the special Blender build in question might not be of direct use to me because I use XP on my work computer, I do have one old piece of hardware that is still in use (almost always on) and runs Win98.

For anyone who has experimented with this stuff rather than giving grand pronouncements, the simple fact of the matter is that a well tuned Win98 install is the best option for a usable full-fledged operating system on old systems with low resources.

Yes I like Linux too, and use it when it suits my needs better, but it simply can’t recreate the useability of a Win98 system on most old hardware. What Linux has in its versatility and power, it lacks in the realm of truly light GUI options.

Let me preempt some of the responses this is sure to get.

1) NO, a Pentium 4, 1.(something) gigahertz processor, with a measly 256 MB of RAM is not what I am talking about when I talk of old hardware. I’m thinking much lower. As LetterRip rightly points out, getting a new powerful computer every 6 months to a year is not something a lot of people can afford in the world. Even if they can, in many cases such as mine, people don’t see the point of blind upgrading of hardware when the old hardware does everything you want it to at an acceptable speed.

2) Yes, I am aware of low resource friendly window managers for Linux: IceWM, fluxbox et. al. The point still remains that the modular nature of the open source Linux system means that simply starting up a basic desktop requires a million different modules to be loaded into memory no matter how light the windowing system is. Think about it, the Windows 9x base architecture was designed at a time when you had to pay extra to upgrade from a Pentium 1 to a Pentium 1 MMX running at a whopping 233 Mhz! Most modern Linux GUIs, however, were built at a much more resource-rich time and it shows in the performance. Windows 98 may not be built to take advantage of your new beast of a machine, but it was built to make the best of limited resources. Your latest Enlightenment desktop with rotating 3D widgets or whatever, might not be designed to downsize to low resources, but it makes the best use of your latest beast … and the less we say about the travesty that is Windows Vista, the better.

What it comes down to is using the best tool for each situation, and it’s good to know that that choice is still being kept alive by helpful contributions such as this. Three cheers to jms for providing this Blender build, and more power to open source!

Ultimately the reason I am a fan of Open Source software and the reason all my professional work is created exclusively using such software is because of the freedom of choice and implementation it allows. Since when did it become a mandatory decision to prefer and love a UNIX-like operating system, i.e. Linux. Is it not valid choice to prefer something else instead?

Replacing one form of blind faith (Windows is the only God) for another (Linux is the only God) is not my idea of freedom or open thinking, and I wish more people remember that occasionally. Software is at best a musician’s instrument and at worst a blunt tool. It doesn’t play much of a part in producing greatness in the hands of a great talent any more that it plays a part in producing garbage in the hands of the ignorant.

To me Open Source is one of the most important things to happen in the world of technology for decades, maybe centuries. Now if only we all refrain from our natural tendencies as a species to sink into religious zealotry about everything under the Sun, maybe it can actually reach its potential, and more.

If there’s anyone out there still using Windows 98 like me, leave a comment and let me know your reasons, and the challenges you face with it. This is actually a topic that might be useful to write more about. If there is enough interest I just might do that soon.

Samir

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Comments
  1. Hello there,
    I’m still using Windows 98SE. I’ve been using Limewire for the last few years (P2P program). Recently, I discovered I can no longer connect to this program. It talks about firewall as being as possible problem, but I have no idea how to check this. I also downloaded Kazaa, but it also won’t connect. Any help would be appreciated (I’m not a “geek”, so layman’s terms welcomed!)
    Sincerely,
    Sheila Martin

    1. Hi Sheila,

      Thanks for dropping by. I’ll try my best to help. Please excuse me if you already know some of this, but since you requested the non-geek treatment I figured it was best to go to the very basics. šŸ™‚

      Computers connected to the internet are like an office with a phoneline having many extensions. Different people in the office can be contacted on different extensions, and if one of these extensions is cut or not working for some reason, you can’t contact that person directly. Similarly, in a computer, different types of software use different numerical ports to connect to the internet. Your web browser, for example, will usually connect through port 80.

      Limewire and Kazaa use different ports to connect to the network. A firewall is a piece of software that could be on your computer or on the computers of your internet service provider. It blocks certain ports for security reasons, or in some cases to prevent the use of software that use those ports. From what you describe that seems to be your problem.

      If you have firewall software on your own computer you should be able to tell it to allow Kazaa or Limewire to connect. By default Win98SE doesn’t come installed with firewall software, but your virus checker or similar security system could have the same functionality. If the blocking is being done by an external computer, there might be ways to bypass the restriction.

      Since Limewire seems to be your primary concern, I would look here:
      http://wiki.limewire.org/index.php?title=User_Cant_Connect
      It is a fairly comprehensive walk through of how you could solve the problem. I’m sure similar instructions exist for Kazaa, but the principle is the same.

      Have a look at that. If it doesn’t work or you need any further pointers, drop me a message using my contact page and we can try to figure it out.

      Hope this helps,

      Samir

  2. I still have computer running windows 98 at home. I really hate it when open source app decide to abandon windows 98. I am glad that there is still hope for blender.

    I work as system admin. There are many kind of OS in here. If I want to go fast using linux I will prefer pcbsd, but it still require 256MB memory to install.

    There is some user here have been forced to use ubuntu which still use 6.06 because it is much faster then 7.10 or even 8.04. Even then loading 1MB excel file using Open office 2.4.1 will still require a couple of minutes on 128 Memory. And when they have opened some 3 MB file, they have to save and close it half hour before office hour ended, or they might loose data if they force kill openoffice………..

    1. Sucahyo, thanks for dropping by and sharing your experiences. I too had a Win98 system running at home until very recently, which I have now switched to Linux on a trial basis (so far so good). But, I do still think Windows 98 is the best solution for some older hardware. Linux might be free and Linux might be open, but its windowing systems are not always the fastest.

      Thank you for pointing me to PC-BSD. Seems like an interesting project which I will definitely explore further. I have tried Ubuntu before but it doesn’t even manage to boot into X on most of what I would consider old hardware. As you rightly point out, that situation is getting worse with every new version.

      The solution I finally used on my old computer was Arch Linux. It is not the easiest system to set up, but because of its bare-bones take on system installation, and using extremely light GUIs like OpenBox, it is possible to set up a very functional and satisfactory system on any hardware you have to work with. I am currently running it on a Pentium 4 with 128 Mb of RAM, but I have no doubt it can be adjusted well enough for my even older Pentium 3 with 64 Mb of RAM.

      Obviously, choice of software plays a large role here. So, Open Office is out and simpler text editors or AbiWord is in, etc. But that is a workable compromise to continue using old hardware for daily requirements, I think.

      Thanks again for your input,

      Samir

  3. I love Windows 98se.
    Recently I have done a number of searches regarding open source and older versions of commercial apps for 98.
    The stuff I could not afford like anything Adobe is now so affordable it is criminal and many open source vendors are still supporting or at least keeping an older version for the users of this OS on their sites for download.
    I find productivity very good, as good as modern OSes and for me it is comfortable.
    Yes, I have used it for about ten years and many software applications are gone, updated with no support, become freeware or greatly discounted yet I think it has some life in it regardless of the naysayers.
    I have many computers and this one was a freebie after my laptop hard drive failed.
    I used XP then that hard drive failed as well in a new machine so I went back. šŸ™‚
    I have been looking for freeware for multimedia endeavors and there is a lot more than I realized for this “obsolete OS”.
    I am grateful for the support and I actually bookmarked pages for future reference so that I can save up some dough to purchase their products not just because of the support but the actual need.
    Open source and freeware however is something I do seek out for many applications not just multimedia and I am pleased when I find a relatively new product that gives me a chance to try it out with my computer.
    Thanks Samir for giving me a chance to give my opinion on the subject!

    1. Thanks for your comment and sorry for the long delay in replying. I was out on a longish vacation.

      Always glad to hear from someone with similar tastes. I’ve actually replaced my Win98 install with a Linux one, for now, just to try out. But I agree with you that it is still a valid option on many systems, and I myself will definitely use it in the future … I can’t help tinkering with these things. šŸ™‚ I also love looking for Open Source and freeware alternatives to various software. It’s a fun little hobby with useful results in the end.

      For slow systems running older Windows Operating Systems, I’ve always found this site to be very use to find mini-sized, low resource requirement programmes:
      http://www.tinyapps.org

      Have a look, I’m sure you’ll find some useful gems. That’s all from me at the moment. Do drop by sometimes, it’s always fun to exchange computer war stories. šŸ™‚

      Samir


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