Re: mini distros for old-but-not-dead PCs
From: Robert Heller (heller_at_deepsoft.com)
Date: Sun, 05 Oct 2003 00:09:27 +0000
In a message on Sat, 04 Oct 2003 14:29:34 GMT, wrote :
D> Pedro Figueiredo wrote:
D> > Greetings,
D> > I have this old PC (Pentium 133Mhz / 32Mb RAM) running
D> > win98... I know they make PDAs and calculators faster than
D> > that nowadays, but I'm doing fine with it for what I need, as
D> > I use it almost exclusively for accessing the internet (www,
D> > mail, usenet and irc), text editing, and old games. Old as in
D> > zork and moria, that is, not as in Fifa2002. By keeping the
D> > windows instalation pretty clean and tuned up I can even run
D> > some heavier stuff (Fireworks and Dreamweaver, for instance)
D> > at pretty acceptable speeds.
D> > Now, I've recently installed Linux (a new Red Hat distro) on
D> > my other (and recent) PC and I'm really delighted. Having read
D> > all over the place that Linux will do wonders with older
D> > machines, I'm tempted to drop windows altogether and get Linux
D> > running on this oldie as well. I've tried a bunch of different
D> > distros from cover CDs and such, but I'm having an hard time
D> > finding something that works for me. Red Hat won't install
D> > with only 32Mb of ram, Debian get installed but can only run
D> > in text mode, others do run but are simply too slow. I suppose
D> > I could fine-tune one of these if I knew what I was doing, but
D> > alas, I'm no wizard, so I came to the conclusion that perhaps
D> > I should try one of those mini distros for older PCs... But
D> > they just look, well, boring and dumb. It seems that there's
D> > no middle term: I can only find either 3-diskets text mode
D> > distros, or heavy 6 CDs all-package-included ones, that won't
D> > run on my PC. I understand I can't possibly run the newest
D> > KDE, but I do expect to find something that looks at least as
D> > good as windows. Preferably, running much better than it, too.
D> > But then again that goes without saying.
D> > All in all, would any kind soul gently point me to a decent
D> > distro that's not-too-ugly, runs on old machines, easy to
D> > install, and suitable for beginners? Is the such thing, to
D> > start with? The answer is worth extra points if the_thing is
D> > available for free.
D> Try Slackware and stay away from KDE and GNOME.
D> It isn't classified as a "Newbie" distro but it was the first
D> distro I used. By having a second system you shouldn't have any
D> troubles finding help if you can't find the answer. Just take
D> your time and read the different screens and you shouldn't have
D> any problems. You only need disc 1 & 2 for a complete install and
D> you also get the Slackware-Live CD which is on disc 2.
*I've* installed RedHat 6.2 on my 50mhz '486 Laptop (32meg of RAM, new
6gig hard drive). Works just fine. I *don't* use Gnome or KDE (not
even on my K6-500/128meg desktop box). FVWM2 is quite happy on my
Basically, ALL distributions will install on older machines, although
some of the newer ones are now using '586-ish install kernels, which
could be a problem on '486s (you'd need to either cross-install or
create a custom boot floppy). The main source of issues for older
boxes with 'slow' processors and/or are memory poor are the excessively
overdone 'eye-candy' GUI packages (Gnome and KDE). Note that disk
drives can be cheaply upgraded, *even on really old boxes* -- there was
nothing really stopping me from putting a 20 or 40 gig drive on my
laptop other than the fact that I don't really need such excessively
excessive disk space on it. The only gotcha is the 'old' 1024 cylinder
BIOS limitation, which can *always* be handled by proper partitioning
-- Linux only makes use of the BIOS during the boot up process (eg.
LILO or Grub). Once the kernel is loaded and started, Linux uses its
D> Confucius: He who play in root, eventually kill tree.
D> Registered with The Linux Counter. http://counter.li.org/
D> Slackware 9.1.0 Kernel 2.4.22 i686 (GCC) 3.2.3
D> Uptime: 1 day, 2:12, 2 users, load average: 2.06, 2.32, 2.22