After doing all the obvious, what are the best optimization procedures for a 11 year old computer with 128 MN of RAM, Pentium III 500 MHz, 8 GB hard drive, other than adding RAM, and cleaning it up.
Trying to revive an eleven year old laptop or desktop is comparable to being able to go
back in time, if that is your intention. one of the many reasons is simply the drastic
change in "platform" the platform will not even support a "flash player".
But if your a collector of sorts and enjoy the evolution of this extraordinary phenomena
then by all means, enjoy.
If you're looking at Linux, you might consider AntiX, a MEPIS variant. I have it running on a 350 MHz P-II, albeit with 384 MB of RAM. antix.mepis.org
I agree with MfM, puppy or DSL linux would be a great OS to put on a box this old. You don't have many options for upgrades other than the obvious RAM upgrade and even that can be limited in your case. If your looking for something cool to do with the box you could always make it into a MythTV box, which essentially makes your PC into a personal DVR. The requirements for a mythTV box are not that drastic and they list all the required hardware on their website. Hope this is an option: http://www.mythtv.org/
A light Linux distro (Puppy or DSL, rather than X/Lubuntu) might be a good choice, but you will not be able to go very far from using some simple apps and browse your local files: a Flash app (even a low quality video on Youtube) will make your CPU knee to its computing power requests.
Instead, try FreeNAS to turn your old pc into a file server. The requirements are extremely low. Adding a couple of almost inexpensive pci expansion card might really do the trick.
Check the FreeNAS site: http://www.freenas.org
I support some of the comments above. I have an old laptop with similar specs and loaded on Xubuntu. Look at Ubuntu or Jolicloud if you are going to have it on a LAN. Don't expect too much - it will be slow. You could use it to monitor websites (google docs) or as a terminal to a server (using VNC). My kids use it to watch youtube videos I have downloaded and enjoy the linux educational programs. If it is a laptop, the install may not recognise the screen driver - try plugging in an external screen for the installation and later it should find the driver for the laptop screen.
I would suggest to install with the Linux distro. Linux distro usually requires not as much hardware requirement. Your old computer specification would suffice.
It would be great to say there is something awesome that you can do with your rig. But there probably isn't. You have no upgrade path on a computer that old, so you're better off just buying a new computer.
Unless you just want to resurrect it as an experiment - in which case I suggest checking out the link Tina posted.
I guess your old computer supports only USB 1.1 standard, you can install a cheap pci card which provides multi usb2.0 ports and that way you can enjoy the portable external drives and flash memories of today's technology on it :)
There are versions of Linux specifically intended to breath new life into old computers. I recommend you check out Lubuntu (http://lubuntu.net/), but with 128 MB of RAM you can't expect miracles.
You can make a profile to gain more ram
Adding another application to gain memory? These things always strike me as odd.
It really depends on what you want to do with the computer. This is not what you asked, but anyone stumbling over this question might also be interested in this article: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-10-cool-uses-for-old-computers-and-laptops/
Do you want to go online with this computer? It should be good enough for surfing. So add a network or even better a wireless network card. You can also reassemble the hardware in a portable case so the computer can easily be moved around the house.