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Spyril

Linux on a low-end system

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I'm looking for a distribution of linux that is easy to use and can run a word processor, spreadsheet app, and web browser at the same time on a system with only 180 MB of RAM. I've so far found CAOS Linux and Vector Linux. However, CAOS looks bloated up the ass with server and administration apps, and the Vector Linux is based on Slackware, which I've had bad luck with on the target computer(Both Slackware-based liveCD's I've tried weren't able to get X11 working with my hardware). Have you had any experience with distributions such as these, and what do you recommend?

P.S. The target computer isn't with me right now so I can't provide detailed specs; it's some Gateway piece of shit with a Pentium processor (i686 i think) that runs Windows ME :cry:

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You could look at puppy linux or xubuntu.

I dunno about Xubuntu; it supposedly can run decently on ~180 MB RAM, but the LiveCD was hell on earth: applications took 3 minutes to open, the cursor would lag, windows would freeze, it even took forever to switch between desktop workspaces...I realize that the liveCD is much slower than the installed OS, but in this extreme of a case I don't really think it would matter.

But I'll look into puppy linux - it looks promising

Edited by Spyril
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Based on the requirements you've described (i.e. running a word processor, spreadsheet, and web browser concurrently), I think what you're looking for is less dependent on which distribution you're running, and more so on the amount of available memory. I've got Debian running on an old Pentium 2 laptop that until just recently had 64MB of RAM and it worked fine for what I needed. (I have since added some RAM.)

Ditch KDE and GNOME, and find a lightweight window manager that you like (I use Openbox) or just ditch X altogether and run each in its own virtual console (Ctl-Alt-F1 through F6).

Which apps you are using can also make a difference. OpenOffice.org and Firefox (for example) are resource hogs. If you try to keep them all doing stuff at the same time, you'll likely have them all stuttering along.

Something else I found that seemed to help on my old laptop is not installing with a journalized filesystem. I did the original install with ext3 partitions and GNOME... and the system was virtually unusable (it took, literally, several minutes for a menu to appear when I clicked an icon). Changed to ext2 and scrapped GNOME, and it chugs happily along now.

Also, LiveCDs will always be slower than native hardware. You're limited by the physical speed of the CD, which is kind of like an extremely slow hard drive.

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You may want to give fluxbuntu a try. It is a split of Ubuntu that uses Fluxbox as its window manager.

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I had an old Toshiba laptop running on only 96mb of RAM with Slackware 11 running WindowMaker, Abiword, Xxl, Dillo, & Firefox....it wasn't speedy...but it got the job done..

I would go with Debian or Slackware ....the newer Distros based off each are not as friendly to older hardware anymore..

You may also want to check out http://www.delilinux.org/

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I had an old Toshiba laptop running on only 96mb of RAM with Slackware 11 running WindowMaker, Abiword, Xxl, Dillo, & Firefox....it wasn't speedy...but it got the job done..

I would go with Debian or Slackware ....the newer Distros based off each are not as friendly to older hardware anymore..

You may also want to check out http://www.delilinux.org/

Yup...do a Debian minimal "netinst" -- you install only the files you need, as you need, from the network. All of the different flavors of Ubuntu are aimed at ease of use, which usually translates to more resource consumption. I've ran sparse Debian installs on as little as 32 MB RAM, and Slackware installs down to 8 MB on a 486 laptop. I currently use Debian Etch on my Toshiba Libretto, which runs a 233 MHz Pentium-MMX chip, with 64 MB RAM. It's not ultra-fast while running X11, but it's usable, even with big apps like Firefox. It's more than usable in console-only applications. Slackware is a good choice too, but I've moved away from it recently for favor of (what I feel) Debian's superior package management.

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I used to run Slackware 2 on 50Mhz with 4MB of RAM. My window manager was wm2. Sometimes I just made my window manager netscape so the window manager didn't take away any memory from the web browser. :puke:

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BABY It's all about Slax Popcorn or a varian of slax. Download the Modulator for SLAX and add what ever you need into the slax live disk and roll. You can then dump it to a mounted drive once you are at the console :) or do it from a gui inside KDE.

Craygee <3 SLAX

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BABY It's all about Slax Popcorn or a varian of slax. Download the Modulator for SLAX and add what ever you need into the slax live disk and roll. You can then dump it to a mounted drive once you are at the console :) or do it from a gui inside KDE.

Craygee <3 SLAX

I do not recommend any live distro outside of DSL for low end systems like the one discussed...Even with DSL, I would make sure its not an older CD-ROM less then 20x speeds in this system, or it will feel slower then it should.

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Dang dude thats harsh Doomtroll. Obviously I didn't make myself clear enough. Once you've booted... at the blackspace run the installer to install it to the hdd (mounted drive/mounted disk) automatically that way you arent limited to the CD speed and the memory issues put forth running it live. Make more sense? Also the reasons I recomend live distro's is because that most of the generic driver sets pre built in so you dont have to load jack, it does it for you. Makes it a much simpler install. Now does that make more sense? I had hoped people infered that from the last sentece of the last post.

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Also I have SLAX Popcorn running off a 128mb CF card on a old socket 370 PIII 667MHz. I use it to chat, surf, and emulate NES games. Oh yeah it has 128MB RAM. Trust me you are more than stout enough to run it.

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ArchLinux runs nice on my 128mb pc in the corner

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Also I have SLAX Popcorn running off a 128mb CF card on a old socket 370 PIII 667MHz. I use it to chat, surf, and emulate NES games. Oh yeah it has 128MB RAM. Trust me you are more than stout enough to run it.

There's no benefit to SLAX if you're going to install it to the hard drive, though...you might as well just install Slackware, which SLAX is based off of. There's a lot of Live CD hardware detection stuff you really don't need. As for Slackware, the generic kernel that comes with it has just about every driver you'd ever need (especially for older, well-supported hardware) already built as modules, so they'll be loaded as the kernel detects your hardware. Usually, Live CDs aren't configured to be very secure, either, since they're not intended for use as a disk-installed system, which is another problem with installing them to hard drive.

Installing SLAX to a CF card isn't a bad idea though...especially if you have it treat the CF card as a CD drive -- limiting the number of writes to the hard disk (as is the case with a Live CD) is a very good thing with CF cards, since they have unlimited read cycles, but limited write cycles.

Old hardware can be entirely usable with modern Linux distros, you just have to slim them down a little, and not expect the newest version of KDE to run on a Pentium Classic with 64 MB RAM!

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Actually there is every benefit to using slax installed. I like KDE and the way slax uses it. It's rediculously small and extreemely easy setup. Security? What aspect? I would beg to differ with you on the realm of security. Popcorn has almost no open ports. It uses decently securer (if thats even a word) apps. Plus theres a reason that Remote Exploit uses slax for Backtrack over other distros. I do agree with you that things like LLGP (Linux Live Game Pro) is unsecure but how secure does one need to be to be anymore secure than Win ME? LOL

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Take your pick:

http://distrowatch.com/search.php?category...p;status=Active

DistroWatch podcast had a big segment on a new-kid-on-the-block 'SliTaz':

http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20080331

I agree with the comment about LiveCD's, these usually attempt to use a whole load of memory to speed up the CD access and overlay the user filesystems. I ran XFCE/Debian on some underpowered laptops for a while, for Xubuntu get the alternate install (ie. not the liveCD).

Cheers,

Mungewell.

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I ran Debian Sarge with gnome on a 300mhz with 32mb of ram just fine for a good while. My dad uses Ubuntu (gnome) 8.04 with 128mb of ram perfectly fine. The problem is not so much the hardware requirements but more that everyone expects lightening fast speeds these days. 

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I have a little libretto ct50 laptop, its got jsut 32mb of ram and a p75 cpu.

I pulled out its hdd and put it in another laptop and booted an iso of Damn Small Linux. http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/ and installed it to the hdd,

put Hdd back in my teeny tiny craptop and booted it, runs xwindows with fluxbox, has a mini browser and a spreadsheet and wordproccessor, i installed kismet and put my orinoco wifi card in it and i have a nice little palmtop, with the docking bay i can connect a serial gps.

its not fast but DSL runs atleast as well as the win95 that came on this speed deamon!

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I usually run Zenwalk on my older computers whic h is Slackware based. With enough swap it runs great on my P2 with 192 mb ram.

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It really just depends, what kind of games are you going to be playing? lol I'm just kidding.

Running a live cd requires about 4 times as much as normal when it is installed. I will still go for xubuntu

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xubuntu always served me well, especially with older hardware

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Wow this is an old thread. Well, I ended up getting rid of the computer, so I had no chance to install any Linux distro. However, I've run Xubuntu on a VM with a low amount of allocated memory and it's run pretty smoothly, so I'll keep it in mind for the future. Thanks for the advice.

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