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I was just given a couple of computers, and they are using VIA processors. I haven't found a linux distribution that works on it yet (because of the architecture). They are old computers, and I'm not completely sure what Linux distribution will work.

asked Dec 02 '10 at 17:31

catchatyou's gravatar image


I know this is an old thread but, for those still stumbling upon it...

Not knowing what you have is the biggest battle of finding Linux distros or compiling your own (suggested).
Here's a tip (Windows exe): http://www.cpu-world.com/Download/CPU_identification.html
and of course any Linux distro that will fire up on your system will also be able to tell you in great detail what most if not all hardware is on your board.

Knoppix, FreeBSD, Tiny Core Linux, among other small distros works with my VIA C3 1.0AGHz Nehemia CPU on a EVCM-F MB with a VT8235M southbridge and a Phoenix Bios D686.

eBay was flooded with 15Watt fanless MAXSPEED MaxTerm X500 Thin Clients (TC) sporting these MB's a few years back where you could get them around $10ea. in bulk. Very cool and capable little boxes. (Pun intended)
(eBay search term: maxterm)
Most came with Embeded Windows XP on a 1GB CF card that you can extract drivers from and run full XP installs, though slower unless you roll your own by stripping away some bloat / crapware and max the memory in the single slot to at least 1GB.

I also found that the power converter boards were lacking in these units, so upgrading them or using a good clean desktop PSU of at least 200W definitely helps if you add things like a HD & PCI Video card to eliminate screen jitter and take advantage of the eye candy that full size distros offer. Latest distros with the new Gnome and KDE DE's may prove too taxing even with a good GPU; VIA chipsets are after all a low power embeded technology.

That said, they are stll very fun to play with and also useful for low power headless dedicated applications like small LAN DNS and/or Proxy servers, pfsense or smoothwall firewall, and low end HTPC boxes that beat ARM proc. based units.
Another use for bulk recycling TC treasures found on eBay is LTSP & DRBL applications including a local OLPC & LTSP combo.

Tiny Core Linux: http://distro.ibiblio.org/tinycorelinux/welcome.html

LTSP: http://www.ltsp.org

DRBL: http://drbl.sourceforge.net/

OLPC: http://one.laptop.org/about/mission
OLPC Related Distro(Sugar): http://www.sugarlabs.org/

answered Dec 04 '12 at 12:06

rjbradlow's gravatar image


edited Dec 04 '12 at 12:40

According to Wikipedia Linux will support the VIA C3 and VIA7 processors.

answered Dec 02 '10 at 17:34

DazOwen's gravatar image


My problem is that I have no idea what type of VIA processor that I am in possession of.

(Dec 02 '10 at 18:38) catchatyou catchatyou's gravatar image

Could you get a model number off or it or upload a picture?

(Dec 02 '10 at 18:40) FizzNakLe FizzNakLe's gravatar image

(Dec 02 '10 at 19:10) catchatyou catchatyou's gravatar image

still doesn't quite show what we would need. could you take a picture of the chip itself? (the black square with the VIA logo)

(Dec 02 '10 at 19:31) FizzNakLe FizzNakLe's gravatar image

Is it one of these? alt text

answered Dec 02 '10 at 19:34

FizzNakLe's gravatar image


edited Dec 02 '10 at 19:35

It's a
13H014500 ©

It looks like the picture that you gave me, but I'm not entirely sure if that's a CPU, or are you just looking for that?

(Dec 02 '10 at 19:38) catchatyou catchatyou's gravatar image

OK, that's a south bridge which controls USB, SATA, PCI, etc.

have you tried just installing a random version of Linux to see what happens?

(Dec 02 '10 at 19:50) FizzNakLe FizzNakLe's gravatar image

I have installed (or attempted to install):

Ubuntu 10.04 (it wouldn't boot the CD)
Ubuntu 9.10 (it seemd like it had a good install, but it wouldn't boot from the hard drive for some reason)
Fedora 14 (it locked up at the install screen)
Lubuntu either 10.10 or 10.04 (wouldn't boot from the CD)

(Dec 02 '10 at 20:29) catchatyou catchatyou's gravatar image

If you want Windows, here's the driver: http://drivers.softpedia.com/get/MOTHERBOARD/Others/Via-VT8231-VT8233-VT8235-VT8237-Motherboard-36.shtml

I know you said Linux, but this is a start...

answered Dec 02 '10 at 19:52

FizzNakLe's gravatar image


They came as blank drives when my friend gave them to me, and I don't have the kind of money to get Windows (considering this is practically volunteer work).

(Dec 02 '10 at 20:35) catchatyou catchatyou's gravatar image

answered Dec 02 '10 at 20:54

FizzNakLe's gravatar image


I guess it would've helped if I told you that I am using a Mac.

(Dec 02 '10 at 20:56) catchatyou catchatyou's gravatar image

Oh my goodness...

(Dec 02 '10 at 20:58) FizzNakLe FizzNakLe's gravatar image

OK, first get parallels, then get windows, then create a boot-able thumb drive, then install Mandriva Linux...

I'm not sure how to create a boot-able thumb drive in OS X. any chance you have Linux on your Mac?

answered Dec 02 '10 at 21:07

FizzNakLe's gravatar image


Yes I have Linux on my Mac.

(Dec 02 '10 at 21:07) catchatyou catchatyou's gravatar image

I was able to get Debian to work. I used the small CD i386 iso file. I had to burn it to a disk, and I didn't do the graphical install (for some reason the graphical install wouldn't work).

answered Jan 18 '11 at 12:05

catchatyou's gravatar image


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Asked: Dec 02 '10 at 17:31

Seen: 9,112 times

Last updated: Dec 04 '12 at 12:40