[Techtalk] Two Totally off-the wall Questions

David Merrill david at lupercalia.net
Sat Jan 26 00:04:16 EST 2002

On Fri, Jan 25, 2002 at 09:59:26PM -0500, wny-tc at juno.com wrote:
> Hi.  Keith here in the Depths of the Great Bergen Swamp

Hi, Keith there in the Depths of the Great Bergen Swamp

(WTH *is* the Great Bergen Swamp, anyway? I've been dying to ask you.)

> A couple of questions:
> 1 - If I want to set up an old PC as just a Linux Email box, what do I
> need for hard drive space?  I have a couple of old Pentiums here, a 75
> MHz with 24 MB RAM and a 540 MB HD and a 233 MHz with 64 MB RAM and a 1.6
> GB HD.  I am sure that the larger, faster one will hack it, but how about
> the old/slow box?

That will be very tight (540 MB). But you can do it. You may need to
find some minimal distro to do it. Check the Distributions-HOWTO on
the LDP, and the distributions list on the LWN and look for one of the
distros that requires little space on its own.

The 1.6 Gb has plenty of room.

You will NOT want to install a GUI, and you will NOT want to install
any application software. If all you install is the kernel, the init
scripts, and the MTA, I'm sure you can get by. And of course glibc and
the other things the MTA will need.

If you're pretty Linux-savvy, you might want to look at the LDP's
Linux-From-Scratch HOWTO. By building your machine manually, you can
*really* cut out the fat.

The general-purpose distros like RH, Debian, etc., will be too
"bloated" for your purposes, I bet.

> 2 - I have inherited an old IBM Thinkpad 350 from one of my brothers. 
> It's a 486-33/12MB RAM/850MB HD.  Is there any chance of being able to
> run any sort of tiny Linux installation on that machine?

It fits the minimal requirements for Linux, so I bet you can. Maybe
there will not be room for X, though.

One of the benefits of Linux is that because all the source is
available, there are 100+ different distros, all tuned for different
purposes. I am absolutely postive you can do what you want. However,
it is quite likely you will have to go with a less maintstream distro,
or even build your own, to do it.

Sounds like a fun project, though. If you want, I'd be happy to help
you through the process. I'm not saying I'm an expert, just that I'd
be happy to work through the learning curve *with* you. I'm always
wanting to learn Linux better, and that sounds like a sure-fire way to
do it!

The Linux-FAQ's section on disk requirements is at:


It says you can fit linux into 80Mb. 

Sorry I am not more expert myself, and have to do the RTFM thing. :-/

David C. Merrill                         http://www.lupercalia.net
Linux Documentation Project                   david at lupercalia.net
Collection Editor & Coordinator            http://www.linuxdoc.org

Microsoft's goal is domination of the global information business, which is
to say all business. Phone companies, cable television companies, post
offices, stock exchanges, banks, treasury departments -- all of these are
viewed by Microsoft as future competitors.
	--Robert X. Cringely, PBS Columnist

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