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Linux for old PCs

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March 14, 2007 11:54:35 AM

Any recommended Linux package which can be used to run old PCs (i.e. Pentium II to Pentium III level) ? These are units for instructional purposes.
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a b 5 Linux
March 15, 2007 3:51:05 AM

While I don't disagree that Slax is great for running for a liveCD (excellent if you are testing the waters like exculiber seems to be), for installation there are better installation-oriented lightweight distros such as DSL, properly-configured Debian, Xubuntu, Vector, or one of many others.
a b 5 Linux
March 15, 2007 5:43:53 PM

I'd probably put DSL and Slax at about the same level in terms of installation. I agree with the point though. Knoppix for example is a bad choice for an installed OS.

Xubuntu would of all the names listed so far probably be the most install to hard disc orientated of the LiveCDs (that also fits the low spec HW requirement). I just know that Slax does very well with older hardware although as you rightly point out not as installation focussed.
March 16, 2007 1:36:26 AM

Xubuntu is what ive used to run a few older pc"s

on a few p3's as well as a p2 just make sure you have if possable at least 256 megs ram
March 16, 2007 12:54:09 PM

Thanks for all your inputs. I will look into your suggested packages and will provide you feedback later on my exprience. Instead of dumping these old PCs, we might as well find a way on how to make full use of them . Making these for instructional purposes especially those in need seems to be a good idea.
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a b 5 Linux
March 16, 2007 7:58:00 PM

Not only are older machines great for exposure to computers in general (as well as Unix-based systems for those interested), but they can also serve as a multipurpose network machine for routing/firewalling, webserving, central document repository/fileserver, etc.
March 18, 2007 8:44:17 PM

Since these would be used for instruction best is to install slackware. IMHO there is no better way to learn how linux works.
a b 5 Linux
March 19, 2007 4:51:59 AM

Quote:
Since these would be used for instruction best is to install slackware. IMHO there is no better way to learn how linux works.


Good point, I just assumed instruction = traditional educational environment, and if it is in fact meant to learn about Linux, then slack world be great (although, depending on familiarity and/or persistence, a slightly gentler introduction might not be a Bad ThingTM)
March 19, 2007 8:38:28 AM

Now that you mention it I think I could have misinterpreted him not you :(  . BTW Slack is not so bad as its reputation it is just how you approach it that is important.
a b 5 Linux
March 19, 2007 5:28:27 PM

Yes, I've used slack before, and it's one of my two distros of choice for a no-nonsense system (the other being a stripped-down debian) and I agree that it gets a bum rap for being unfriendly when in fact it's no more complex than any other no-nonsense distro, but for those who are completely unfamiliar with CLI in unixland, having the safetynet of a GUI usually helps people cope with the differences, at least at a psychological level I've found. If they've come from only using Windows or Mac, staring at just a terminal prompt can be imposing.

At least that's what I've noticed in helping friends/family, your experiences may vary :) 
March 19, 2007 7:57:51 PM

I normally use slack with xfce so it can be rather pretty :D  But I guess most people prefer gnome or kde (that last one is bloatware almost as bad as windows IMHO)
March 23, 2007 2:11:20 AM

I have used both Xubuntu and Debian on a pentium MMX 233, Xubuntu worked but felt sluggish at times. But debian with XFCE didn't feel to bad at all, unless I had more than one application open.

A good fast desktop is enlightenment, it also looks very nice.
March 23, 2007 7:17:54 AM

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March 23, 2007 7:52:43 AM

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a b 5 Linux
March 23, 2007 6:28:54 PM

He's not the messiah.. He's a VERY naughty boy :lol: 
March 23, 2007 7:34:43 PM

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Good to see you active again
a b 5 Linux
March 25, 2007 1:06:49 AM

Well, a distro is a distro more or less. Underneath, they all have the Linux kernel and GNU userland. If the distro is installed such that it's not just text mode, then they all have X11 installed also. There are also choices between window managers, from really minimalistic to very full-featured.

If I were running Linux on a very old computer, I'd find a distro that let me just install the minimal system plus X and TWM as the window manager. That choice of installability is the key factor here, not what distro you actually install. TWM is very lightweight and yet still is graphical and can run any other GUI program if needed. TWM definitely looks like something out of a 1980s OS but if you're not afraid of using a window manager sans glitz and a bunch of GUI tools, it'll do just fine. If you need more GUI than TWM's Xterms and Xclock provide, then IceWM or FVWM would work. XFCE is much more heavily featured than IceWM or FVWM are and would probably still run okay. But I'd really only use that if I really needed to. KDE and GNOME would probably run also, but I can tell you that they'd be slow and you'd need a fair bit of RAM to run them very well. They are full-featured modern desktop environments and perform well on newer hardware.

And as far as singling out a particular distro, I really like Gentoo. However, it would be a bad choice on such an old computer as it would have to compile at least some of its own packages and this would take considerable time. There is a dsitributed compiler, but it won't always work on every package and the computer would have to compile the package. That can take hours for certain packages. Thus I'd recommend any Debian-based distro that you can choose how much you install. Regular Debian would work, so would the server version of Ubuntu and a whole raft of other Debian offshoots. SUSE would work fine as well, but it's a little heavier than other distros and has fewer CLI config tools and more ncurses/X based ones. I haven't had much experience with Slackware or its progeny, so I can't comment on it. Nor on any of the BSDs as they're UNIX as well. I'd just say look at install options and any one that has a decently-configurable minimal install mode will do you fine.
a b 5 Linux
March 26, 2007 1:13:42 AM

The difference is that there is the choice of leaving out the fat for those who don't want or need it.
The fat is just to entice new converts who are used to fatty OS's, so to speak.
a b 5 Linux
March 26, 2007 5:42:42 PM

Err... thats exactly what Ubuntu do. I've just got 7.04 beta up and running from my single ~680Mb CD. No DVD download for me. Core components on the disc and the rest via apt.

Gentoo stage 1 install is about as pure as it gets. I know there used to be LSF (Linux From Scratch) but I don't know much about that one..
March 27, 2007 4:56:33 AM

Yeah, Audio Monkey is right, Ubuntu is a single CD distro. Ubuntu is one of the leaner popular ones I have seen and was part of the reason why I tried it out, because I didn't want to download 2Gb to find out I didn't the distro :p 

Ubuntu FTW :wink:
March 27, 2007 6:13:09 AM

If it only wasn't based on Debian :( 
a b 5 Linux
March 27, 2007 1:53:35 PM

Nobody really does Stage 1 Gentoo installs any more as there's little difference in download size and performance from doing a Stage 1 versus a Stage 3. Both can be started from a minimal install CD, which is roughly 60 MB. The Portage snapshot is the same, weighing in at about 100 MB. The only difference besides the compile time is that the stage file for Stage 1 is slightly smaller than for Stage 3.

There's no real advantage do compiling GCC + toolchain with the live CD's GCC and toolkit, then chrooting and using the compiled GCC + toolchain to recompile itself rather than just compiling the stuff once, with the live CD's GCC and toolchain. Gentoo has even recommended that people stop doing Stage 1s and Stage 2s and just do a Stage 3.
a b 5 Linux
March 27, 2007 8:12:12 PM

From a purely academic stand point I'd love to do the whole lot from source. I agree with what you say that this is less popular now people have tested and shown there to be a minimal difference in speed. The sheer amount of time Gentoo would take to compile (into a fully featured distro) has put me off.

As to your previous comment about it being a shame that Ubuntu is Debian based I'd like to understand where it comes from. Debian seems as good a starting point as any. I'm wondering what you would have preferred them to produce?
March 27, 2007 9:02:55 PM

Quote:
As to your previous comment about it being a shame that Ubuntu is Debian based I'd like to understand where it comes from. Debian seems as good a starting point as any. I'm wondering what you would have preferred them to produce?


Well if you meant my comment it was not based on something that is wrong with the distro (while some people don't like how rarely debian is updated, I consider it one of its strengths ) it was based on my personal unfamiliarity with the distro.

Maybe I should have worded it as such "It is a shame for me that ubuntu is based on debian"

Sorry for any misunderstanding. :) 
a b 5 Linux
March 27, 2007 9:18:58 PM

:lol:  No problems. I just wondered if you had some insight I was missing. I was genuinely curious as I know Debian has a generally good reputation. It was (still is!) a new world for me and that was half the attraction.

The Debian update situation is somewhat negated with Ubuntu as it is in essence Debian unstable with a lot of the kinks worked out. I'd be interested to see what the hard core Debian set think of Ubuntu.

As for the upgrade schedule I love the 6 month updates with Ubuntu. The wait with Debian would be too long for me. That should be measured as a single user. If I worked supporting it I'd probably prefer Debian stable.

Now.. if only somebody would do for BSD what Ubuntu has done for Debian I might be able to get that running too :wink:
March 27, 2007 11:39:39 PM

Quote:
Well I am sure glad to hear that Ubuntu is coming on single 650 cd


Ubuntu has always been on Single CD AFAIK :lol: 
a b 5 Linux
March 28, 2007 2:42:17 AM

There are also Ubuntu DVD images as well.
March 28, 2007 5:47:10 PM

Quote:


Now.. if only somebody would do for BSD what Ubuntu has done for Debian I might be able to get that running too :wink:


It is already available u'll just have to buy some overpriced hardware to get it :wink:
a b 5 Linux
March 28, 2007 10:40:23 PM

Leopard + Limewire = BSDbuntu - A truly fruity OS...??

Its the getting it for free bit I like with Ubuntu. I've had a little flack for saying it before but I would like a mac to play with. I don't do pirate software or I would be tempted to play the VM route to get a copy running.
March 29, 2007 4:05:51 PM

I heard somewhere that you can get it to install on a core 2 machine without the VM path. (note I could be wrong here this is what someone told me. I never tried it myself)

While apple may not like it I would think it's not exactly piracy as you can buy the software. You might be going against the EULA but that is defendable based on the national law of you place of residence. Technically it is legal here, as long as the copy is not pirated (Consumer rights:)  )
March 30, 2007 6:50:29 PM

Yeah I guess you are right. Recently MS Russia went after a school teacher in a small town for having pirated windows in the school comp lab. Problem was that he bought them with the os already installed. So things are not perfect here either :(  .
May 3, 2007 3:49:42 PM

For very old systems, I came across Puppy Linux that looks very interesting.

Minimum specs are something like 166Mhz Pentium w/ 64 Megs of RAM (will run completely in RAM if you give in 128 meg).

There's a review with a couple screenshots. Looks promising, although not that pretty.

Otherwise, I'd have a go at Slackware.
a b 5 Linux
May 3, 2007 6:50:18 PM

Puppy is a great little distribution that a few folks round here rate. If you are after Slackware in a similar small footprint take a look at slax.org who do a lovely liveCD / Installable Slackware in much the same vein.
May 9, 2007 2:31:24 AM

What is the advantage of downloading the DVD for Ubuntu.
I'm running Ubuntu right now, and I installed it from the CD, but I'm downloading the DVD just to see what it is, and to take advantage of broadband. :D 
a b 5 Linux
May 9, 2007 4:36:28 AM

The DVD just has more stuff on it so you don't have to apt-get everything from the net.

:-D
May 10, 2007 2:33:17 PM

And how do you install it from the DVD?
!