[Techtalk] A distro for old machines...

caitlyn at mizuhoradio.com caitlyn at mizuhoradio.com
Thu Dec 4 12:18:29 EST 2003

Hi, Bud,
> It should be able to run X windows with a decent desktop so that its
> intutive  for newbies/windows users (with minimal documentation). The
> applications I am  looking to run are mainly office based. Simple
> mutimedia is ofcourse a like  to have option (play mp3, mpg/vcd and an
> audio cd)

Because of your very limited hardware I'd recommend Vector Linux at
http://www.vectorlinux.com  I've used it with great success on my Toshiba
> * Would kde/qt work faster than Gnome 2.0/gtk 2+

No, quite the opposite.  You have nowhere near enough memory for either,
though.  At 32MB you need a lightweight desktop.  The default IceWM window
manager for Vector will do nicely.  It also comes with XFCE and Fluxbox,
which also would qualify.

> * Would debian be a good starting point or should I look into Slackware

Vector Linux is a Slackware based-distro designed specifically for smaller,
older systems.  It's got a pretty good installer that's unique to VL, BTW.

> * Would kernel 2.6 be able to work faster (having been customized) or
> should I  stick with 2.4 or even perhaps consider 2.2

A recent 2.4 kernel wold be faster than a 2.2 due to better memory
management.  You can always recompile a kernel to slim it down, but as most
things are modular I'm not at all convinced that it would buy you anything
in terms of performance.  Vector Linux' default kernel is optimized for i586

> * Would i386 be faster than i586 compiled apps if one was to run in a
> PII or  PIII platform? I

IME, no.  Go with optimization for your actual platform.  On a PIII that
means i686.  On a Pentium 200MMX that means i586.
> * Would dietlibc be anyfaster and effectively usable as a replacement
> for  glibc

Don't know, haven't tried.  I get decent performance on some really limited
hardware so I haven't felt the need to slim down glibc.
> * Has this been done? Any similar project?

VectorLinux is one of many, but I think it's about the best.  There is also
Peanut Linux, DamnSmall Linux, etc... but VL is a complete distro designed
for what you want with regular updates and releases.

All the best,

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