OS Support

As the K6 is now an old chip, it becomes harder to find an operating system that runs well on it. The main problem is that most recent 32-Bit OS require i686 (cmov) or SSE support, and the K6 series are i586 chips. This page contains tests and specific tips and tricks for the major OS (I care about) one would install on a K6 today.

First of all my specs are the following:

  • AMD K6-2+ 550MHz
  • Gigabyte GA-5AX rev 5.2 with the latest F4 BIOS
  • 768 MB RAM Infineon PC133 DS
  • nVidia GeForce FX5700 LE (GeForce-5 class). GeForce 2/3 and ATI Radeon 8500 were also tested at some point
  • Promise SATA-300 TX2 Plus controller for my SSD

Of course everyone’s goal will be different when it comes to the OS choice…some install an OS on an old machine for the challenge, some to use it as a PC for old games and so on.

Windows drivers are slowly disappearing from the manufacturers websites, so I will archive the latest available versions for the hardware I use here. For example a major problem you will run into with a current Windows XP installation and all the Service Packs are the graphic card drivers. Very few actually work correctly with an up-to-date K6 system. I have tried dozens of drivers myself from nVidia or ATI, sometimes crashing the OS completely…

Windows 2000

Windows 2000 is the perfect OS for a K6 if you have an “older” graphic card and want to play a limited number of games. It lets you run most applications and games without any major instability like the Win9x series and it’s slightly faster than Windows XP. This is what I ran for a long time as it was very stable on my hardware!

  • Boot the Windows 2000 (preferably SP4) CD
  • Press F6 when asked to load the Promise SATA drivers from a diskette
  • Continue the normal Windows 2000 installation process, reboot and let it find all supported drivers
  • Install the latest Service Pack from Microsoft
  • Install the ALi/ULi 2.20 integrated driver for your chipset (ALI/ULi was bought by nVidia) and reboot
  • Install a DirectX 9.0c version from 2006 (and not older than for 2008 or it will break!)
  • If you have a GeForce FX and go to the nVidia website they will tell you to use the ForceWare 93.71 as drivers. Do not use them as they create blue screens on K6 systems as soon as you run 3D DirectX applications! The best working drivers I found for a GeForce FX (and probably GeForce 4) are WHQL 56.72. Note that the 50-series does not support HD resolutions like 1920×1080

Windows XP

When Windows Update was a thing and you did all the updates, you ended up with an unstable system from a graphics standpoint, OpenGL and DirectX applications did crash. Now that Windows Update is discontinued this “problem” does not exist anymore. This is the system I am running now, so here is my setup and observations:

  • Boot the Windows XP Service Pack 3 CD
  • Press F6 when asked to load the Promise SATA drivers from a diskette
  • Continue the normal Windows XP installation process, reboot and let it find all necessary drivers
  • Install the ALi/ULi 2.20 integrated driver for your chipset (ALI/ULi was bought by nVidia) and reboot
  • Install a DirectX 9.0c version from 2006 (and not older than for 2008 or it will break!)
  • If you have a GeForce 2/3/4/FX and go to the nVidia website they will tell you to use the ForceWare 93.71 as drivers. Do not use them as they make blue screens on K6 systems as soon as you run DirectX applications! Theoretically the best driver series for the GeForce 2/3 are the 40.x but I honestly had mixed results with them as they will not run OpenGL (or at 1 FPS most). The 60.x series and up will also give you blue screens in DirectX so don’t use them. The best working drivers on my system are the WHQL 21.83 if you use a GeForce 2/3 and the WHQL 56.72 for my GeForce FX
  • If you have an ATI card like the Radeon 8500, the recommended driver series is the 4.8 or 4.10 but although they work fine in 2D with my card I had crashes in 3D. I have yet to find a stable ATI driver…
  • Activate Windows XP as described in this post

Windows 7

Windows 7 32-Bit perfectly supports a K6-based system but it is to be used just “for fun” as it will be running dead slow and driver support for old hardware is missing for lots of graphic cards and sound cards. See my notes on this post.

Ubuntu and Fedora Linux

Ubuntu up to version 10.04 LTS and Fedora up to version 14 are compatible with the K6 architecture, aka i586. Versions above that will not run due to the lack of the “cmov” x86 instruction support. You will get an error message like that at boot in this case:

Note that Ubuntu 10.04 LTS works fine with an ATI Radeon 8500 but the installer is unusable with an nVidia GeForce 3.

48 thoughts on “OS Support

  1. Pingback: Windows 2000 with nVidia FX5700 | AMD K6, K6-2 and K6-III CPU resource

  2. hello, can you use everest or gpuz to check whether your nvidia card is running with agp mode enabled or just pci mode?
    i had a lot of trouble with ali5’s agp compatibility. when i used the gigabyte 5ax in win2000, nvidia drivers simply disabled agp mode and force to run in pci mode. there is a registry key that can force agp mode on, but then it simply causes bsod during booting. i have installed ali’s agp driver and tried its agp setting utility, but with no help.

    • I just checked with GPU-Z 0.3.8 (which runs on windows 2000) and it’s in real AGP 2x mode with this card and these drivers!

  3. Hi! Greetings from Brazil!

    Very nice site! The AMD K6-III is one of my favourite CPUs of all time!
    I was having a lot of trouble (BSODs) with my legacy Asus P5A and a GeForce3 Ti with 3D apps on Windows XP, but with the Ali/Uli integrated driver and the 21.83 Nvidia driver the problem has gone forever! Thanks a lot!

  4. HAHAAAA! My K6III+ runs @633MHz (115×5.5) ROCK SOLID on a Gigabyte GA-5AX rev.5.2 powered up by 3x256MB 133 CL2, a GeForce 7600GT and a raid0 SCSI UW320 system :)
    Ubuntu 10.04LTS compiz full effects course!!!

  5. I have an old AMD K6 II PC with the following specs:

    AMD K6 2 500
    192 MB RAM
    GeForce 6200 (reaplacing the old and weak S3 Savage4 Pro)
    8.4 GB + 40 GB HDD
    Dual Boot Windows 98 SE and XP

    Since i installed my Gefoece 6200 with the lastet drivers, System crashes when i run a DirectX Program, i didn’t have issues with my old S3, but there are any other better driver chocies?

    I have some other GPUs (TNT2/TNT2 M64. Geforce 2 MX, 4 MX440 SE, FX 5200/5500/5600 and the 6200 from nvidia. ATI Rage 128 GL and Pro, Radeon 9200 and 9550)

  6. Hello! I have a old PC with:
    K6-III 450 CPU
    GA-5AX 4.1 mainboard F4 bios
    768M SDRAM
    GeForce 2 MX400 vedio card
    SBLive sound card
    60G SSD.
    I find this maiboard can not support USB booting.
    How do you setup OS in your K6 system?

      • I download a ubuntu 10.04.4 OS. But I failed to setup into my k6 system. It stopped when copying files to harddisk.
        I changed another OS–Debian 8.2 LXDE, but it stopped when running openssh-server.
        Do you know why?

          • Ubuntu 10.04 comes with 2.6 series kernel and it runs just fine in K6-2/524MHz on Asus P5A-B. The problem is smbus which hangs @ 105MHz and gives memory config problems – some say it is only good for 83MHz or less.. You have to get memtest86 run rock solid first! BIOS settings are the key to solve this problem. And even the smbus wont work under linux, but it gots mem settings right under BIOS control!

  7. I’ve been running lubuntu 10.04 on my K6-2 fine for a few years. But… not ubuntu 10.04 is EOL. Anyone have other ideas? Should I give Gentoo a try?

    • Gentoo is your only good bet if you want actual software. But it’s a pain to manage and current software might be too slow on a K6 anyway…I would stick with Ubuntu and let the system live as is.

  8. Hello!
    My old PC :
    K6-3 450
    GA-5AX mainboard with 768M memory
    SB Live! sound card
    GeForce2 MX400 video card
    64G SATA SSD with SATA2IDE card
    Realtek 8139D network card
    During this time, I test some Linux OS, results are these:
    Ubuntu 10.04, can not setup, I don’t know why.
    Ubuntu 7.04, when starting install, it reboot, and can not setup.
    Puppy Linux 4, can not setup into hard disk, because failed to create a new partition.
    Fedora core 5, when starting install, it reboot, and can not setup.
    DSL Linux, successfully setup into hard disk.
    Deli Linux 0.8, it can boot from CD, but failed to create a new partition, it said HDD was only read.
    Suse Linux 9.2, successfully setup into hard disk. Sound card and network card are both ok! It also can recognize video card, but I can not find the driver. It runs a little slow on my old PC.

  9. I’ve found that Debian Dog (Debian with a Puppy Linux look and feel) and Salix both run well but I have yet to try all of the software with each. It seems that i686+ compiled packages sometimes slip through the cracks.

    • OpenBSD 7.1 i386 will boot and install on my Compaq Presario 5441 desktop with an AMD K6-2 450mHz and 192 mb of RAM. Some programs crash due to “illegal instruction,” but the base system works perfectly.

  10. Installed Debian 8.4.0 with the Mate desktop. Little bit slow but good. Best OS for the machine I’ve found so far. Even Firefox runs without crashing.

    • Recently I tried a very light distro: Damn Small Linux, a light fork of Debian, its newest version, 4.11 rc2, has 2.4.31 Linux Kernel and runs flawlessly

  11. Hi guys.
    I also got my gaming k6 rig.
    The specs are next:
    Motherboard Asus P5A (Ali Aladdin)
    CPU AMD k6-III 450GHz overclocked to 600MHz
    RAM 768MB (3x256MB) SDRAM PC-133
    Video-card GeForce FX5950 Ultra 256MB/256bit Leadtek
    Sound PCI Creative Live! 5.1
    USB 2.0 PCI VIA Controller
    SATA Raid Controller Fst Track TX2200
    128GB SSD SunDisk
    IDE DVD+/-RW Drive
    Standard FDD 3.5″ Drive
    Standard Case with PSU 300W

    Running Windows XP Pro, some old games. A lot of fun))))
    No problems at all!

    Also I got videocard for upgrade!!! lol!!! It is GF 7900GS 512MB / 256bit
    Installed it, installed drivers. But PC crashed if I try to start any game or 3d Mark test. Same problem was with my FX5950 Ultra. But I found good drivers (it is 53.03 and 56 version). They are OK for 5950, but still have problem with 7900 GS.

    Maybe somebody knows which drivers I should use. Or maybe need to change some BIOS settings or .. etc? Any help appreciated!

    • Hi Sergey.
      Maybe you have some issues due to PSU with only 300W.
      FX5950 Ultra could drain 75w, or 50w 7900GS when they work in 3D mode.

  12. Hello, so I have read the article above and am curious about running Windows7 on the following setup :

    – AMD K6-III+ 450, overclocked to 600.
    – DFI K6XV3+/66 (VIA®MVP3 AGP system chipset)
    – 768MB max SDRAM PC133

    I’ve had these PC parts since about Y2k and have used it with Windows 98SE. How would this setup, with Win 7, perform in an office environment where only office apps (word processing, spreadsheets, some internet browsing)? It wouldn’t be used for video gaming, though playing music would be nice. So just wondering how “dead slow” it could be, as the article says. Thanks.

    • I really can’t tell…one the OS has started and all the windows updates have been done, and all the caches generated it could be usable but it may take up to 1 day of background work from Windows until the system is usable.

  13. I wouldn’t think that would be an enjoyable user experience, so if you do it, go into the project with the mind set of “let’s see what this does.” :)

  14. Hello, I also reassembled my K6 old computer,and added a GeForce 6200 card, nightmare begins.
    CPU: K6-2+ 550
    MB: 6114vu(MVP4, w/o AGP slot)
    MEM: 256×2 SDRAM(only two slots @_@)
    VIDEO: Geforce 6200 PCI

    If I install Windows XP, with version 7x.xx geforce driver, 2D works fine, but try 3D, then BSOD! I trys too many version of drivers, bad luck, all BSOD. Maybe it really needs SSE.

    If I install Windows 7, with version 1xx.xx geforce driver. Surprisingly, 3D function actually work properly, it can run pass 3dmark 2001SE.
    But unfortunately, 2D is not working properly, slow as a snail.Play video, very slow very slow!
    And because the memory is too small, only 512M, the system is running very slowly, can not accept.
    Windows XP is a better choice for speed, but 3D didn’t works.

    I think I should find the 5xxx series graphics card.

    • I found a registry tweak from NOG MOD geforce drivers, to enable/disable the SSE/SSE2 in the geforce driver registry, but that’s no effect.
      In Windows XP, DX9.0c 2006, 7x.xx driver, try 3D, and BSOD too.
      Does anyone know what’s going on?

      The registry MOD in inf file like this:
      HKR,, EnableMMX, %REG_DWORD%,1
      HKR,, EnableSSE, %REG_DWORD%,0
      HKR,, EnableSSE2, %REG_DWORD%,0
      HKR,, Enable3Dnow, %REG_DWORD%,1

  15. This is very useful info. Been fighting my system with XP and a FX 5500 and ran into exactly those issues.

    I benchmarked various memory configurations, and with 512 MB the machine is a bit slower.

    256 is the most it runs at full speed for me. 98 we benches the best, especially in games because of vxd sound drivers. Wdm drivers under ME fo4 example run slower (easy to test, just test without soundcard).

    Also ran into that 1 fps OpenGL issue. I do wonder why the K6 has these issues.

  16. Thanks a lot for posting this info. It is very niche, but important for some people.
    I have the GA-5AX REV 4.1
    Right now I have installed:
    AMD K6-2 400 OC to 506MHz
    768MB RAM
    Radeon 7000
    CF Card adapter with 16GB
    Windows 2000 Pro SP4

    Right now everything works fine, but I am going to be upgrading the graphics card because it’s a little slow for things like Quake 2 and 3. I got a Geforce FX 5600 because it was super cheap on ebay.
    After reading this I am not so sure it’s going to work though.

    You said the WHQL 56.72 driver works, but with no HD. That’s pretty disappointing because the Radeon 7000 works in HD for me; it’s just too slow even on low res.
    Are there any better versions that would support HD?

    • I have no idea…if you don’t run DirectX/OpenGL stuff you can use a newer driver, it will work. What I’m telling in this page is that the 56.72 is the only combination of OS/Driver/DirectX version that is stable for my setup. Be sure to snapshot your system using cloneZilla or something like that before playing with it, so you can roll back to a good known state.

      • Thanks for the response!
        Yeah, I will run OpenGL and DirectX. You say it’s not HD, so what is the max resolution you can set?

        Maybe it would be better to go with an ATI card like a 8xxx or 9xxx series. Are those drivers more stable/compatible?
        (I understand not all of these have the right AGP – I am only looking at the double notched ones.)

        • I had a terrible experience with an ATI AIW 8500, if you go that route take the most standard card ever (the AIW are cards with TV tuners).

          The max resolution I can use was 1680×1050 as far as I remember. But now it’s on a 1280×1024 screen.

          Why not try a 3dfx Voodoo 3 3000? Didn’t try these.

          • Well, I tried the driver ( as well as several other versions) and the best results I can get is desktop and DirectX working, but no OpenGL.

            OpenGL gives “Privileged instruction error” upon launching any OpenGL program and crashes.

            Did you experience this problem?

          • Sorry but I don’t have this specific issue..I can’t really help you more :(

  17. Thanks for putting up this site. It could be a big help getting Win2k installed on my P5A-B. However, I get Dropbox error 404 when I try to pull the files linked in your Window 2000 section. Can you fix that, please?

  18. Hello!
    I’m BACK!!! :)
    I changed my K6-III 450 to K6-2+ 550, for more 100MHz.
    My PC:
    K6-2+ 550
    GA-5AX mainboard
    SB Live! sound card (CT5880)
    Geforce2 MX video card
    Realteck 8139D netword card
    I tried install FreeBSD 12.0 i386 to this PC, it could load kernel, but stopped at choosing install or CD on live.
    I think it was the keyboard and mouse. I used USB keyboard and mouse, no PS/2.

  19. K6III+@633MHz (115×5.5, 2.4V) on GA5-AX rev.5.2/bios F4, 768Mb ram CL2, GeForce FX5900XT 128Mb, Silicon Image SATA raid controller, 240GB SSD.

    Some caps has gone so…
    Now I got a GA5-AX rev.5.2 all solid caps :)

  20. hey there, i have two k6 plus cpus I’m playing with right now one is in a tyan tomcat IV s1564 it’s a 570 2+ running at 400 and 2.15v the other is a k6 3+ 550 running at 450 in a p55xb2 iwill



    so far I’ve had a hell of a time getting operating systems on them lol

    I really would like to get windows 7 linux and windows ME on the iwill and windows 7 on the tyan or at least xp pro

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