| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 48, 10 May 2004
Welcome to this year's 19th edition of DistroWatch Weekly. Its content has been somewhat reduced due to the fact that the layout of DistroWatch has undergone some changes, and some of the existing content needed to be migrated to the new layout. Nevertheless, we have a new Knoppix release from early this morning, 7 new distributions on the waiting list and an article about a user's experiences with source-based Linux distributions. Enjoy!
Source-based Linux distributions from a beginner's perspective
(contributed by Arvan Reese)
I recently decided to build a Linux installation from scratch. I am not a programmer or a professional writer. I am however, very enthused with Linux and want to offer my experiences to other non-programmers in the hope that it will inspire or invite them to take the plunge from Windows to Linux. I also hope that my comments will be read by programmers, to see opportunities for themselves to make their Linux creations more available to non-programmers.
To preface this article, I want to say that I don't believe that any one distro is better, worse, good or bad. I really know very little about Linux and this story should be proof of that. So, to the programmers that read about my mistakes with their creations, please don't be offended.
Why did I want to compile from source?
I've been using PC's since 1989. I used MS DOS, Win 3.11, Win 95/NT4.0/XP. Back with DOS and Win 3.11, I grew used to constantly tweaking the system files and memory settings in order to install a new program. I think that experience actually gave me the perseverance to dive into the OS repeatedly. A trait that is really helpful in Linux. Or, as my spouse says - I like messing with things and I'm a control freak. No need to comment further on that subject.
I started using Linux about 15 months ago. I built a working PC from the scraps of three discarded PCs I found when walking the dog. I named this PC 'the frankenputer' because I created life from the parts of dead PCs. I thought that if I had a free PC, I might as well try a free OS. So...Linux it was.
I used Mandrake for almost one year. I loved how easily it installed. However, my NVIDIA GeForce2 MX400 didn't work as well in Linux as it did in Windows XP. (Note to beginners - create a dual-boot system! It was extremely helpful for getting drivers, .iso images to burn and access to the User Forums to get questions answered. Don't cut your umbilical cord to e-mail, web surfing and games. You may need to blow off some steam in Castle Wolfenstein.) Mandrake is great, but I couldn't get the graphics to perform as quickly. Yes, I do know that the NVIDIA drivers are a 'challenge'. Still, I have what I have and I want what I want. Also, with Mandrake I noticed that while installing programs from source, Mandrake sometimes had locations for files that differed slightly from the source code's expectations.
Then, I jumped into Slackware. I chose it because Red Hat's package management was similar to Mandrake and because I wanted to learn a little more about how Linux works. I also heard that Slackware is very UNIX-like and that intrigued me. I got along with Slackware pretty well and had better luck compiling programs. Still, I didn't get the video performance that I wanted. I also ran into some of the same installation problems when compiling from source. I had been reading about getting the best performance by using a source-based distro for months and decided to take the plunge. Actually, I had heard about source-based distros from this web site early on in my Linux adventure. I even tried Lunar, Source Mage, Sorcerer and Gentoo in my first month. However, as a beginner I was in way over my head! My knowledge gap was too big and installing from the prompt or ncurses was too scary.
How did I prepare?
As I said, I had a dual boot. I downloaded a free program for Windows called the Belarc Advisor. I used it to verify my hardware. I printed the manuals for all my hardware, MB, graphics card, NIC, Monitor, HDDs, etc.
I backed up my e-mail and saved files on a separate drive and configured my e-mail program to leave mail on the POP server of my Internet provider. Then, I printed the installation documents for the distro that I would use, punched them into a 3-ring binder.
I also gave myself two mental tools. First, I set a goal of success in 30 days. This is good practice because most CD-ROM installations (Mandrake, Slackware, Windows, etc.) all happen pretty quickly. Compiling is slow and if someone like me is doing it, it goes REAL slow! I make many mistakes and there's a lot that I don't know about Linux. Which leads to my second gift to myself - I gave myself permission to make lots of mistakes. The files were saved, e-mail and addresses wouldn't be lost, so all I needed to do was keep at it and be patient. Expect the process to take a long time - longer than you think.
Remember, none of my experiences and challenges are distro based. They're me based. What I know and really - what I don't know are the main factors in how things turned out.
I started with Lunar Linux 1.4.0. After a few stops and starts inside the installation, I was able to boot into the Lunar Linux. The installation instructions were OK. I definitely recommend access to the user forum for this one. I started the basic lin process (lin perl, lin moonbase, lin lunar, lunar update) but I couldn't get GNOME to compile completely. There were some broken dependencies with Gconf. I spent a couple of days on the forum looking for help and decided to try something else. I did learn something that I found helpful and a little more familiar. I installed and configured XFree86, my mouse and then installed XFce4 and Mozilla. These both compile pretty easily and allowed me to surf the user forums without having to reboot into Windows. I used this technique on every install afterward and suggest it to everyone when compiling a source-based distro. I felt that if I knew a little more about Linux, then I would have been fine with this distro.
I went to Source Mage 0.9.2. I had a few botched installs and then got a bootable Linux. However, I ran into trouble getting my NVIDIA drivers to work. The NVIDIA program was looking for kernel headers and the CD-ROM kernel didn't install them on my HDD. I checked the forum for this problem and there was a bug open, but I didn't know how to work the solution. There was also a broken depend on hdparm. I had some more trouble with GNOME compiles being incomplete. There was one 'spell' that needed an extra line break at the end of the file for it to compile correctly. I got GNOME up, but getting OpenOffice.org to install was real hard. After about a week, I moved on. Once again, my lack of Linux skill hampered me. The installation instructions are nearly identical to Lunar. In fact, by reading the two of them, I was able to get further along with both installations. I did manage to get the nifty little audio program to work and every time I successfully compiled something, Captain Kirk told me how happy he was. That broke up the install monotony and made me laugh every time. Still, I wanted more.
My third stop for compiling from scratch was Gentoo 2004.0. Their installation document was DETAILED!!! It covered everything. I got frustrated when I installed everything exactly as they mentioned - but I couldn't boot into Linux. I did it over and over until I found the problem - Gentoo uses Grub as a bootloader and I was dual-booting with my Linux partitions on the second hard drive. Only by researching Grub did I find that it only wants to be on the first hard drive. This detail wasn't in the Gentoo installation documents. (I hope that they put it in for rookies like me.) I reinstalled, this time with Lilo and voila! I was in Linux. Gentoo has other documents for Desktop configuration, printing, ALSA and more. I do recommend reading the documents on Portage, USE=options, rc-update, ALSA and more. I made a mistake that forced me (from knowing any alternative) to rebuild. However, since I learned the Lilo vs. Grub trick, it has been smooth sailing. I have installed GNOME, KDE, AfterStep, XFce, Xsane, Evolution, Mozilla, Setiapplet, GIMP - all without fail.
My graphics are faster. I'm still playing with AGP options to see where I'm most satisfied. I've got some games programs to install, but Gentoo has a forum devoted to games, so I am sure that I'll be OK. My choice is Gentoo because I got it to work. I really wanted Source Mage and Lunar to work, but I just needed a little more help at install. Gentoo provided that and, outside of the Grub issue, I will bet that anyone who follows the Gentoo instructions will be able to get a Gentoo Linux up and running. I'm really happy with the results.
I feel a great sense of accomplishment by compiling my own Linux, from source, just the way I want it. I learned more about Linux and I haven't booted into Windows in 3 months.
New bug-infested distro eases transition from Windows to Linux
Humorix reports about an innovative new Linux distribution called "Notdows", by Pee-aitch-bee Enterprises:
A key component of Notdows is the killrandom daemon process, which randomly kills running processes, faithfully simulating the Windows experience. Over time, however, killrandom will operate less frequently, allowing the user to smoothly transition to a stable operating system.
"Ordinary distros built by geeks are designed to be as stable as possible," said a Pee-aitch-bee developer/manager. "This does not work well for some naive ex-Windows users, who become disoriented and lost in such a foreign environment. While recent versions of Windows are more stable than predecessors, the difference between Windows and Linux can still be quite jarring. We hope to ween these users away from Windows' flakiness without causing unnecessary emotional duress."
More details about this exciting new project can be found on this page.
|Released Last Week
Mandrakelinux 10.0 for AMD64
The AMD64 port of Mandrakelinux 10.0 has been announced and released: "Mandrakesoft today announced the availability of Mandrakelinux 10.0 Official for the AMD64 platform (Athlon64 and Opteron). Mandrakelinux 10.0 for AMD64 delivers all the features and robustness of Mandrakelinux 10.0 Official to the 64-bit platform from AMD, with an average performance gain of 20% compared to the IA32 version." Read the complete press release and visit the product's features page to get the full details. Mandrakelinux 10.0 for AMD64 processors can be ordered from Mandrakestore for US$129.90.
Sun Java Desktop System 2
Sun Microsystems has announced the release of Sun Java Desktop System 2: "Today, Sun releases Java Desktop System, Release 2, the next version of Sun's affordable, comprehensive, and secure enterprise-class desktop solution. More cost-effective than Windows, the Java Desktop System is a enterprise desktop solution that works with your existing infrastructure. The fully integrated desktop solution ships with a client desktop, including an office productivity suite, email, calendar, browser, instant messaging tools, and more. It also includes developer and system management tools for remote administration in a single package." See the press release, the product pages and the release notes for further information. Sun Java Desktop System 2 is available for purchase at $100 USD per desktop per year, or $50 USD per employee per year if purchased for all employees.
Astaro Security Linux V5
This is the first stable release of Astaro Security Linux V5, officially numbered as 5.005: "Astaro is pleased to announce the availability of the Astaro Security Linux V5 General Availability Release. Astaro Security Linux V5 includes two major new capabilities - Intrusion Protection and Virus Protection for the Web - as well as many enhancements that improve security, management, and scalability. Key features of this latest release include: Intrusion Protection; Virus Protection for the Web (HTTP traffic); transparent POP3 spam protection; improvements to WebAdmin for even greater ease of use and flexibility; enhanced reporting, with pre-defined metrics and automated report generation..." The full release announcement.
YES Linux 2.0.6
YES Linux is a Red Hat-based distribution with the goal to enable a Mom and Pop Store (MaPs) to quickly and easily build an internet presence. Version 2.0.6 has been released: "YES Corporation would like the announce the immediate availability of YES Linux. YES Linux represents the first public release of YES Linux, the next generation of YES Server. All current development is focused on getting YES Linux to feature complete status." Read the rest of the release announcement and visit the distribution's web site to find out more about the product.
An updated release of Knoppix 3.4 is now available: "V3.4-2004-05-10 (small updates). Removed some SCSI modules from the regular knoppix26 (Kernel 2.6) startup because they are unstable, use 'expert26' to load them; added script for generating bootfloppies in Knoppix 'Utilities' menu; harddisk installer update from Fabian Franz; 'knoppix splash' fixes; timezone and language setting add-ons; added linlinc1 for captive-ntfs for download capabilities; changed some e100/eepro100 network driver entries in hardware detection; the usual Debian package updates." The full changelog.
The much awaited Knoppix 3.4 is out!
(full image size 461kB)
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
SUSE LINUX 9.1 FTP Edition
Several readers have emailed about the updated message on the SUSE FTP server indicating that the freely downloadable FTP edition of SUSE LINUX 9.1 will be available on 4 June 2004: "This tree contains the source RPM packages for the SUSE LINUX 9.1 distribution. The SUSE LINUX 9.1 ftp version will be published on June 4th in this directory."
Source Mage GNU/Linux 1.0
Eric Sandall, the lead developer of the Source Mage GNU/Linux distribution, has posted a roadmap leading towards stable version 1.0: "I have a rough Roadmap written and would like some comments. I'm planning on adding a list of the bugs needed to be fixed for the 1.0 release, but if others would also like to pitch in, post here and we'll talk about it. ;) You'll note that I haven't done any post-1.0 lists on there as I'd like to get 1.0's Roadmap up first." The details are available here.
|Web Site News
Web site layout changes
Based on our recent discussion in this forum, the DistroWatch web site has been given a makeover. The changes are largely cosmetic; some less important content has been removed from the top of the pages, thus reducing the site's title and navigation bar into a more compact entity on the top of each page. This should satisfy those users who previously complained that they had to scroll down to see the site's main content.
The migration to the new layout has uncovered some less than ideal design faults of the existing content, which will take a few days to fix. I have tested the layout extensively in the latest versions of Opera, Mozilla, Firefox, Galeon and Konqueror, but if you use a different browser, or find bugs, please report them. As always, you are welcome to comment, and even express criticism on the site's new layout and colour scheme, or suggest any other ideas that would make DistroWatch.com a pleasant site to visit and navigate.
A new policy regarding release announcements
It is happening with an increased regularity - maintainers and developers of several distributions have acquired a habit of submitting a release announcement of their products to DistroWatch, without publishing the announcement on their own web sites. To prevent any misunderstandings whether a distribution "release" is official or not, a new announcement policy comes into effect on DistroWatch immediately. From now on, a distribution release will not be announced on DistroWatch unless a release announcement (or at the very least a changelog) is also published on the distribution's own web site. The announcement doesn't have to be in English, but it should include a basic list of new features, and it should give a clear indication about the availability of the new product, or a new version of the product.
New on the waiting list
- m0n0wall. m0n0wall is a project aimed at creating a complete, embedded firewall software package that, when used together with an embedded PC, provides all the important features of commercial firewall boxes (including ease of use) at a fraction of the price (free software). m0n0wall is based on a bare-bones version of FreeBSD, along with a web server (thttpd), PHP and a few other utilities. The entire system configuration is stored in one single XML text file to keep things transparent. m0n0wall is probably the first UNIX system that has its boot-time configuration done with PHP, rather than the usual shell scripts, and that has the entire system configuration stored in XML format.
DistroWatch database summary
- CalyptOS Linux. CalyptOS Linux is one of the newest and most original Linux distributions around. We've built it from the ground up and have customised it to be the perfect solution not only for the desktop user, but also for the business workstation. Package installation is as easy as a few clicks (see our screenshots), uninstallation is as simple as deleting the folder. The desktop environment is lightweight, yet feature filled. Instead of using GNOME or KDE like most distros, we've taken and modified the best pieces out of many desktop managers. You get the best of the best.
- Knorpora. Knorpora is a modified version of the Knoppix 3.3 Live CD for students of corpus-based computational linguistics. Like Knoppix, the Knorpora CD allows you to run a fully operational Debian/Linux operating system from the CD-ROM drive, without installing anything on the computer. The Knorpora edition of Knoppix contains programs and data files that should be of interest to computational linguistics students (WordNet, the Natural Language Toolkit, taggers, etc.)
- Buhawi Linux. Buhawi (Filipino for tornado) is a compact Linux distribution optimally designed for network servers. It uses a concise file system hierarchy and lean, fast, text-based configuration tools. Buhawi was developed mainly because of the tendency of many other Linux distributions to put more emphasis on desktop systems and less on servers, for which Linux has already been proven to be an ideal operating system.
- Honeywall CDROM. The Honeywall CDROM combines all the tools and requirements of a Honeynet gateway on a (hopefully) easy to use, bootable CDROM. The intent is to make honeynets easier to deploy and customise. You simply boot off the CDROM, configure it based on your environment, and you should have a Honeywall gateway ready to go. The CDROM supports several configuration methods, including an interactive menu and .iso customisation scripts. The CDROM is an appliance, based on a minimised and secured Linux OS.
- Pebble Linux. Pebble Linux is a smallish (smaller than 64MB, larger than 8MB) distro image designed for embedded style devices such as the Soekris boards, or a Stylstic 1000. It is based off of Debian GNU/Linux. It runs on many different types of systems, such as old 486 machines, mini-itx boards, or the $199 machine down at Frys.
- N-iX Desktop Linux. N-iX Desktop Linux is the best solution for all who use Novell NetWare as the server operating system as well as for those who want to setup Linux workstations for small organisations and enterprise customer use. With N-iX Desktop Linux you get all software needed for efficient work and you get it for free. Our distribution includes OpenOffice, Mozilla browser, Gaim and licq messengers, GIMP graphic editor, windows terminal server client, etc. ....
- GNOX. GNOX is a Slackware-based Linux operating system with Dropline GNOME 2.6, bootable from a mini CD.
- Number of Linux distributions in the database: 287
- Number of BSD distributions in the database: 6
- Number of discontinued distributions: 33
- Number of distributions on the waiting list: 78
OpenBSD first impressions
RS has sent in his first impressions after installing OpenBSD:
"Hi, I installed OpenBSD 3.4 on my laptop. I have just a few first impressions that you might find interesting.
I decided to install to the laptop because the OpenBSD fdisk program is really scary and it's easy to wipe out a partition you want to keep. Since there was nothing important on the laptop, that didn't matter. One thing that makes it scary is that it doesn't tell you anything about what is on the hard disk already, plus it displays sizes by the number of blocks (at least that's what I think it does) rather than human-readable form (like megabytes or gigabytes). Anyway, I managed to get it to work.
One good thing it does (like FreeBSD 5.x) - it detects the PCMCIA network card without a hitch. I've had trouble with Linux distros getting the card to be recognised.
A disadvantage is configuring X. Like FreeBSD, it uses xf86cfg and xf86config, both of which are rather primitive. I have not been able to get X working with either BSD on this laptop, but that's not such a big deal.
A big issue right now - ethernet file transfer speeds are slow. I'm not sure why - with both Linux and FreeBSD on that laptop, it was very fast.
The version of OpenBSD that I have came with a magazine on a single CD, so it's not complete. It doesn't include Bash, for example, but I found that I could take already downloaded *.tgz files from /usr/ports/distfiles on my FreeBSD partition and use those. Most of the time, it works, and I was able to install Bash. Emacs was not included - the only editor is vi (yuch), but from FreeBSD ports I copied 'zile' which is an Emacs-lite editor and it mostly works OK.
One thing that is really good are the man pages. They are superior to those in Linux and FreeBSD - all man pages should be this clear!
So far, overall impression is good except that I'm concerned about this slow ethernet. After all, this is a network operating system, so performance is a big issue. I will subscribe to the OpenBSD mailing list today and see what I can find out."
One more on BSD nomenclature
KK has this to say about last week's discussion on naming BSDs:
"Here's my opinion on how you should (not?) call the several BSD systems.
You say, 'to differentiate between Linux distributions and the BSD projects, we need a common term referring to all of the BSD projects', but using the term "distribution" would not fit that cause at all: you would be throwing BSDs and Linuxes together. The 'distribution' term, as you (and we) are using it nowadays, is strongly Linux-biased. You should not force Linuxisms on BSD, since it would seem to BSDers that either you don't pay the same respect to BSD as to Linux (since you refuse to use BSD terms for Linux issues), or that you might not have understood what differentiates Linux from BSD... :/
Therefore, I would humbly suggest that you should pay a little more attention to the BSD users, because it's them who will have to live with your labelling. (In particular, you might agree to me that 'Berkeley Software Distribution Distribution Release' does not sound too smart. ;)) Don't anger the BSD users, or you might be putting their acceptance of your project at risk. Considering a term 'old-fashioned' or 'in different use today' just because it was invented 25 years ago is ill-advised: would you call Unix(-Clones) old-fashioned?
Please rethink your Linux-biased perspective. Open Source is not all about Linux, and with your inclusion of the BSDs as 'something like Linux, but not quite' you won't be doing anyone a favor.
Another risk is that Linux newbies will be shocked to find that that spiffy new "BSD distributions" does not have things like modprobe or such. ;)"
I hope you enjoyed this edition of DistroWatch Weekly and see you all next Monday :-)
1 • New look. (by Justin Piszcz at 2004-05-10 12:13:31 GMT) |
I was suprised when I loaded distrowatch this morning looking for this week's issue of Distrowatch Weekly, the new look is very nice!
2 • Design & layout: great!! (by Penguin on 2004-05-10 12:44:54 GMT)
The new site design and layout looks great. It's better according to web usability guidelines too. Congrats & keep up the good work!!
3 • about the layout (by Peter Damoc at 2004-05-10 12:45:20 GMT)
the new layout is quite nice, a step in the right direction.
I'm looking forward to the day DW will be xhtml 1.1 valid and provide alternative stylesheets for screen and printing :D
4 • Best small desktop distros for old & slow hardware? (by Penguin on 2004-05-10 13:02:36 GMT)
By the way, anyobody know what (desktop) distros would be best for old and slow hardware? Or maybe Ladislav could write something about it sometime?
Linux is often said to be a perfect OS for old slow hardware, but the fact is that the newest default realeases of Mandrake, SUSE, Fedora/Redhat or even Debian and Slackware, don't run very well on really old hardware.
By old hardware I mean something like the first Pentium class machines or maybe even i486. Also, I mean a distro with some basic GUI like Fluxbox, IceWM etc., not just a CLI based distro and user interface. User friendliness would be a nice thing too...
I've read a little about Peanut, Feather & Puppy Linux & a few others but have no experience of them myself. So, I'd like to read suggestions from others.
5 • New look (by Fred at 2004-05-10 13:36:54 GMT)
A really great look. I love the changes :) Keep doing such beautiful work on this site I'll visite at least on a daily basis.
6 • a comment on "Best small desktop distros.." above (by tohdol at 2004-05-10 13:45:46 GMT)
see Vetctor Linux
7 • re: Best small desktop distros for old & slow hardware? (by P. Pearson on 2004-05-10 13:56:14 GMT)
Vector Linux is a Slackware based system intended for small, older computers. "Damn Small" may be (I hate that name!).
8 • Mandrake Close their doors? (by Lord-Storm on 2004-05-10 14:30:40 GMT)
I cant see any free ISO's ANYWHERE..... Mandrake is a good distro but $120UK Per year IS WAY TO EXPENCIVE I live in Australia... I study and find it hard just paying for hardware upgrades every 4 years. WHere are the ISO's... not ones that will let you network boot etc.
9 • Re: "Best small desktop distros" (by mike on 2004-05-10 14:42:16 GMT)
I run Red Hat 9 on a 266 P-II and a 366 Celeron. Performance is adequate. I think the biggest change I made to improve performance was to run XFCE rather than KDE or Gnome for the desktop. Turn off services you don't need, and don't install applications you don't use.
10 • Re: Best small desktop distros for old & slow hardware? (by Syntaxis at 2004-05-10 14:49:59 GMT)
A minimal Debian Woody install (i.e. without using tasksel or dselect) is ~80 megs. [But it needs a little more than this to store debs, etc, so the installation manual lists 110 megs of disk space as a minimum.] You can then apt-get install XFree86, a minimal WM and whatever else you want on top of that.
Provided the target PC has at least 110 megs of hard drive space (plus enough left over to install whatever else you need) and 12 megs of ram (the installed base system will run on 8 megs or maybe even less, but the Woody installer itself won't) you're golden.
As far as user-friendliness goes, if you find the Woody installer too cumbersome, Rick Moen kindly maintains a comprehensive listing of the many other installation methods available (http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Debian/installers.html).
11 • About Notdows (by KaZe on 2004-05-10 15:02:40 GMT)
There's no need for using Notdows with the killrandom feature. There's Mandrake already ! It behaves like Windows... even if you can do something with this bloated distro.
Really, a great Windows-like distro !
12 • Re:Mandrake Close their doors? (by George on 2004-05-10 16:59:04 GMT)
Uhhh....go to www.mandrakelinux.com, click the "Download" link at the top of the page. Scroll down you will have two options...become a member or become a member later, if you don't want to be a club member, then pick the second one. You will be taken to a website with a list of mirrors. Hope that helps.
13 • Re: Best small desktop distros for old & slow hardware? (by Penguin on 2004-05-10 18:00:12 GMT)
Thanks for all the suggestions.
What I was thinking - at least theoretically... ;-) - was running Linux with small GUI (like Blackbox) on some really old hardware, something like a 100 MHz Pentium or even an i486 machine. A friend of mine has several such old PCs gathering rust in a closet. So we started thinking whether there was a suitable desktop Linux distro for that old machines?
For example, Vector Linux is a good choice for older PCs, but I think that even Vector is meant for a bit newer and faster machines than Pentium 100MHz, not to mention i486.
Thus I was thinking of something very small like Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux, Feather Linux etc. but I have no experience of them myself. A comparative review of such small distros would be perfect but I haven't seen one. Some very trimmed down Debian or Slackware version or derivative distro might be a potential choice too.
There also used to be a very small and lightweight Linux distro just for this purpose: Tiny Linux (http://tiny.seul.org/) but that seems not to be maintained anymore (since 2001, the old version's still online, however).
14 • New Layout (by Hal on 2004-05-10 18:08:15 GMT)
15 • Nice facelift (by Aaron Matteson at 2004-05-10 18:18:52 GMT)
Nice work on the minor facelift, looks a lot cleaner
16 • small distro (by Russ on 2004-05-10 21:04:00 GMT)
I use DSL (I hate the name too BTW) on a Pentium 150 laptop with 32MB and a 2 gig HD and it runs surprisingly well. And it found all the hardware first try out too.
17 • RE: small distro (by Russ) (by Penguin on 2004-05-10 21:26:12 GMT)
Maybe I should give Damn Small Linux a try too. I read lots of nice things about it. I guess, it should work well at least on a 100 MHz Pentium. (But, hey, and just make it clear to the developers, me hates the name too...;-)
Still returning to my original mission: Maybe I should have put the system requirements low enough from the beginning: PCs from the time before Pentiums. So what about i486? I used to run Windows 95 on a i486 PC so running Linux with a low resource GUI on an i486 class machine shouldn't be a problem.
By the way, my friend has an i386 and even an i286 PC in the closet too, but I suppose that it is better to forget those in GUI & desktop usage... However, it is possible to run Tiny Linux on an i386 PC too: http://tiny.seul.org/en/faq.html#31 Any other such distro anymore?
18 • RE: small distro (by Guest on 2004-05-10 23:11:35 GMT)
DamnSmallLinux is a live cd based on Knoppix
about 50 megs
for more about running it on older hardware
Puppy is not based on Knoppix
it runs completely in ram
so it runs quite fast
but it needs more ram than DSL
it also is intended to be Windows-like
and easy to use for Windows users
there are distros that seem to be slight variations
of and based on DSL
Feather, Luit, and Flonix
if you can't boot to a cd
you can make a boot floppy which can boot the cd
you can also copy the files from the cd to the hard drive
(poor man's install)
and boot using grub or lilo
it runs faster than from a cd
and you can use your cd too
or you can install to a dedicated partition
I would start with DSL or Feather
19 • Re: small distro (by andrew at 2004-05-10 23:15:28 GMT)
Have a look at DeLi Linux - I quote from their web page:
DeLi Linux is a Linux Distribution for old computers, from 486 to Pentium MMX 166 or so. It's focused on desktop usage. It includes email clients, graphical web browser, an office package with word processor and spreadsheet, and so on. A full install, including XFree and development tools, needs not more than 300 MB of harddisk space.
The trick is, that DeLi Linux uses only "lightweight" alternative software. If you are looking for the newest KDE, GNOME or Mozilla, DeLi Linux will not make you happy. The test computer is a 486 laptop with 16 MB RAM, and all apps which comes with DeLi Linux are running smoothly"
20 • @andrew (by Penguin on 2004-05-10 23:25:44 GMT)
DeLi Linux seems like a good choice to give a try indeed. Thanks for the suggestion!
21 • new look (by Kingcwriter on 2004-05-11 00:45:48 GMT)
I love the new look. It feels more clean. GO fedora! I also like the inclusion of FreeBSD i would really like to get to learn that someday. I love the site.
22 • old boxes - new lives (by grover on 2004-05-11 05:04:21 GMT)
ive run a knoppix install, server at home - p133 - 64megs of ram and a 4mg drive,
just dont use kde at all and your golden
ive even installed DSL on a 16mhz 385sx with 16 megs of ram and only a 200 meg drive *had to do a poor mans install*
boy did that suck
with a larger drive
zip slack is fun id have better off im sure... i have an old box i run DSL on all the time and i love it
another vote for vector
it all depends what you want to do...
if you have a 5150/5160 around... google for "ELKS" :)
23 • 4mg? (by grover on 2004-05-11 05:05:37 GMT)
4mg drive is a 4 GIG drive.... rather
24 • Great Layout!! (by Teddy W.L at 2004-05-11 05:07:27 GMT)
Wow... its look simple, clear but its excellent!!!
God work!! and go to make Opensource to be the best OS :)
25 • Re: Best small desktop distros for old & slow hardware? (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2004-05-11 06:07:27 GMT)
in some instances, the systems are actually pretty valuable melted down for gold. a lot of electronics collectors won't tell you this. they'll offer "free removal services" and leave your imagination to make you think they're gonna be shipped off to some third-world country where kids living in mud houses will play Digger.
there's gold in them thar SIMM's!
(Ladislav, I'm starting a phpBB2. these things are almost as insecure as Windows, but they are pretty nice to have. perhaps that would be nice to have here? or maybe you'd like to link to my forums for tech-help? I don't expect to do business with anyone outside of my area, but it would be very nice to have a converging of minds... I'll even upgrade the tiny 384K DSL if I get some sizeable traffic. q-: just a thought...I'm just looking to be part of the action.)
26 • new layout (by fdavid on 2004-05-11 09:50:14 GMT)
The new layout is great. It's much cleaner, and still contains all the neccessary information. The only thing I miss is the navigation bar from the bottom of the page. It comes very handy, when you are for example at the bottom of a the DWW and want to go back to the main page.
27 • Gold rush (by Penguin on 2004-05-11 11:32:42 GMT)
Benjamin Vander Jagt:
actually pretty valuable melted down for gold
there's gold in them thar SIMM's!
What? Gold?!!? Forget the small desktop distros for old PC hardware... - maybe I'll go digging for gold to my friend's PC junk closet instead... ;-D
28 • New Site Layout (by motub on 2004-05-11 12:10:28 GMT)
WOW!! Fabulous! It looks wonderful (very professional), it's easy to read, and is very easy on the eyes.
Great work, and a great site like this deserves to look this good!
29 • RTFM rant... (by Tobias at 2004-05-11 12:24:02 GMT)
"The version of OpenBSD that I have came with a magazine on a single CD, so it's not complete. It doesn't include Bash, for example, but I found that I could take already downloaded *.tgz files from /usr/ports/distfiles on my FreeBSD partition and use those. Most of the time, it works, and I was able to install Bash. Emacs was not included - the only editor is vi (yuch), but from FreeBSD ports I copied 'zile' which is an Emacs-lite editor and it mostly works OK."
How about reading OpenBSD's excellent FAQ (http://www.openbsd.org/faq/) and understanding its concept of distribution/releasing before posting such mindless rants?
That is one of the reasons why calling the BSDs 'distributions' is a bad idea: They are complete OSes with the capability to install third party software easily through ports and packages.
This nomenclature makes sense in the Linux world (Distribution = Linux + GNU + KDE + Perl + XFree86), but it doesn't in the BSD world, since a BSD OS is *complete* (ie. it includes a specially maintained version of gcc, the kernel, useland). A look at the OpenBSD CVS (http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/) might help some people to understand the internal organization of the BSDs.
30 • Website design (by bob at 2004-05-11 12:49:08 GMT)
Excellent, Much clearer. Good work
31 • Re: Best small desktop distros for old & slow hardware? (by P. Pearson on 2004-05-11 12:56:40 GMT)
If I recall Correctly, one or more of the BSD "flavors/distributions/versions/ports/whatever-they're-supposed-to-be-called" have good support for 386/486 type stuff. I can't remember which comparison I read, but one of them is considered great for embedded computing - which, in my mind, means "works on least common denominator hardware"
When you've found something and worked with it a whle, post a journal of your experience - I'm sure others would be grateful.
32 • RE: RTFM rant... (by ladislav at 2004-05-11 14:21:32 GMT)
I am sorry, but I still don't get it. You say that "a BSD is a complete OS". Yet, a Linux distribution is "a complete OS" as well. The way you present it sounds like only BSD can claim the privilege of being a complete OS.
BSD might come with a "specially maintained" version of gcc, but at the end of the day, is this really important from an end user's point of view? You install Mandrake and you end up with a complete OS, inclusive of a kernel, gcc, perl, xfree86, KDE... You install FreeBSD and you'll have a complete OS with a kernel, gcc, perl, xfree86, KDE... Does the presence of a "specially maintained gcc" turn FreeBSD into a "complete OS"? Does the absence of any specially maintained gcc in Mandrake turn it into something that doesn't qualify as a complete OS? In the BSD world, is Linux considered as something lesser, something to laugh at? Do BSD users think that "distribution" is a dirty word?
The only difference that I am able to accept is that BSD is already an OS, whereas Linux is just a kernel. Still, how useful is this BSD OS without all the extra applications - without ports and binary packages? Even if you didn't like the "sensless rant" about OpenBSD, you can see that the reason for the guy getting stuck was that he couldn't find bash and emacs in OpenBSD, whithout which he had hard time to become productive. What's the point of having a "complete OS", if you can't use it because many good applications are not part of it?
Maybe my views are too narrow, but I have yet to see a solid argument that would convince me that BSDs are more special than Linux distributions.
33 • re: 4mg? (by Russ on 2004-05-11 14:40:40 GMT)
Take 100cc of DRAM and 4mg of hard drive and call me in the morning ;-)
34 • RE: RTFM rant.. (by Tobias on 2004-05-11 15:38:19 GMT)
Interesting article elaborating further on the differences between the BSDs and GNU/Linux. Read the part "Integration" and you might understand what I've tried to point out.
I'd prefer the term "BSD Flavours" over distributions, but in the end it's your decision and won't keep this site from getting better and better.
35 • 4mg? (by Benjamin Vander Jagt at 2004-05-11 15:52:55 GMT)
"Take 100cc of DRAM and 4mg of hard drive and call me in the morning ;-)"
Technician Bob:Your CPU is hot. Lemme give it some paste.
Customer Tina:Mind your own business, tech! Watch yourself, or I'll hack your hard drive into a 3.5" floppy drive!
Technician Bob:Go ahead and try. I always keep my hard drive zipped up.
And also, I forgot to mention that I like the layout. (-: I'm on a Win2k system again, and it doesn't look too bad. (As in, it doesn't look worse than any other pages when using Win2k.) (I don't know why it is, but it seems like every time I visit here, I'm on a Windows system. Maybe I miss Linux and need to get my quick fix.)
36 • Very small suggestion... (by Mike on 2004-05-11 17:36:34 GMT)
...but it's been bugging me. Instead of "Use Linux, BSD." which doesn't make much sense, how about "Use UNIX". I know GNU, but that was a nice little slogan you had there once upon a time and it's lost all it's puch.
Re: BSD Distros, people badger you like crazy to get the *BSDs in, then when you do, they argue over symantics. Unless Ladislav's bought a new domain name, I think the things he lists here are always going to be thought of as distros.
Much prefer the new colour scheme BTW.
37 • Summary on small desktop distros (by Teobromina at 2004-05-11 20:52:41 GMT)
The problem with some linux distros is not their big size but their big hardware requeriments: i.e. they can have a desktop environement or a program that needs to use lot of ram or a machine with higher speed.
We may divide the linux desktop oriented 'lives' (run on CD) distros acording to their use:
They can be used as a mobile OS, because you get the same environement anywhere.
*DSL (Damn Small Linux): 50 Mb, Good selection of programs, runs not only from the CD but also 'toram' (=to ram), or by means the poor man´s installation (from hd, copying the files in the disk), it can be installed as 'permanent' in a devoted partition. The CDburner that implements is not good. This distro is good for old pcs (I have tested in a p166 with 64Mb of ram and is OK).
*Feather: 65 Mb, Very goog compromise between size and features, it can run from CD, but it is great when installed in a specific partition, is very similar to DSL but has the advantage of some scripts that make easy to download and install applications like Open Office (OOo) and Mozilla Firefox (MFF) , and its CDburner is very good. It works perfectly in old computers like a p166 with 64Mb of ram. To run the OOo in a productive way you need to have at least 128 Mb of ram.
*Flonix, *Luit are variations of DSL, in my oppinion not as good as Feather, but improving...
-security specific distros>
*Local Area Security: 210 Mb, aparently a distro derived from DSL, but focussed to manage the security in the net. gcc and perl included, could be used as a developement plattform.
*Insert: 50 Mb, Again based in DSL, but good for assess the security in the operating system itself, has a very good antivirus application and tools for checking the partitions in the case of disaster.
*Byzantine: 50 Mb, runs in ram (Be careful because it does not work with a pc having 64 Mb of ram, you need at least 128), with Mozilla and multimedia programs.
*/There is something that can be made to enhance the utility of such small distros: I use to burn a CD with the image of one of them, for example Feather, and then put the files of the downloaded Open Office instalation package, already unzipped, and some more stuff in another session; making so, I have in a single CD a lot of applications, that I can use but not daily, without the needo to download them again or to carry some more CDs. Tis is a concept os escalability of use: to have instaled the programs that brings the distro, and something else for use just when necessary if my machine has enough capacity./*
*Knoppix, 700 Mb, the best desktop all purpose operative system I know (I recommend anyway for Spanish one of her childs: Livux, though that needs at least 256 Mb of ram because it uses only KDE). Knoppix is able to run in old computers as well, if at boot you choose a light desktop manager (fluxbox or so), but do not hope that applications like OOo run if you do not have the necessary ram.
*Hakin9live, 600 Mb, has a light desktop (I think it is fluxbox) but is plenty of apllications related to the network security.
I hope to have contributed with my particular experience.
38 • RE: Source-based Linux distributions from a beginner's perspective (by Vauge at 2004-05-11 22:01:40 GMT)
Amazing how his Linux expience is almost exactly like mine. Excellent writeup.
I put together a computer from scratch as well using nVidia MX400. It is now my stable email - web server.
My path: Sorcerer, SourceMage, Lunar, and now using Gentoo.
I had lunar on my secondary PC for about 3 weeks - the folks over there will bend over backwards to help you. Excellent group of users.
I am now using Gentoo - I like the "USE" feature and have learned alot about Linux system. The best part for me is the forums. Lots of good info.
39 • Great new look (by Erik on 2004-05-11 22:49:05 GMT)
It was a surprise loading distrowatch today. Very very nice improvement ! Thanks for the great website !
40 • Layout (by Henrique Maia at 2004-05-12 00:57:08 GMT)
Very good. Like this better. It seems that, after all, the site layout was really needing a facelift.
Thanks for this one.
41 • Next donation (by T. D. Bancroft at 2004-05-12 01:54:49 GMT)
How about Fluxbox (or OpenBox, or BlackBox, etc.)? It's a great windowing system, and it gets so little attention...
And yes, the new layout is excellent. Keep up the great work, Ladislav.
42 • RE: Source-based Linux distributions from a beginner's perspective (by fdavid on 2004-05-12 11:50:49 GMT)
"...Gentoo uses Grub as a bootloader..."
There's no default bootloader in Gentoo. Even the installation manual handles GRUB and LILO equally. Gentoo, generally, gives you as much freedom of choice as possible. Bootloaders are not exceptions, either.
43 • More about 'small' distros (by Teobromina at 2004-05-12 16:45:38 GMT)
Yesterday I forgot to mention
*Freeduc: 700 Mb, it is a complete OS and applications mainly focused to education (verbs, geography, geometry, chemistry, astronomy, design in 2d and 3d, etc), that uses a small desktop (xfce), but all the usual versions of the known applications, included Open Office.
The interest of this distro is that is very good for 'semi-old' computers as supossed they have at skools, and for newbees. It is virtually impossible to spoil anything in the hard disk because does not mount by deffect its partitions, and when you succeed to mount them they are 'read only'.
You need about 128 Mb of ram for run well all the applications. With 64 Mb it is very slow, but it goes...
It is possible to install it in the hd, but I do not see the advantages to do it.
44 • One suggestion about the access to the Distrowatch information (by Teobromina at 2004-05-12 17:50:13 GMT)
I would like to have the possibility to list distros by its main use, for instance: 'tiny', 'security', 'live', 'multimedia'...
I think it would be very easy by means of associating to any distro some key words like the ones above.
Most of the time the pattern of my searches are to look at all the distros that have a specific use. And it could be I am not the only one.
45 • Suggestion: include x.org. (by Vishruth at 2004-05-12 20:00:57 GMT)
Some GNU/Linux distributions have already adopted x.org and they don't plan on switching back to XFree86 again (not in the near future, at least). So it would probably be very helpful to many LUsers (Linux Users :p) if you could include x.org in the package list that appears in each Linux distro's page in your site (ex. http://www.distrowatch.com/gentoo ).
46 • RANT (by a.o. at 2004-05-13 01:13:38 GMT)
>> Distribution = Linux + GNU + KDE + Perl + XFree86
wow, you only got one part right: "Distribution = Linux + " and that's about it...
>> How about reading OpenBSD's excellent FAQ (http://www.openbsd.org/faq/) and understanding its concept of distribution/releasing before posting such mindless rants?
how about taking the time to understand what a linux distro is defined as, before, asx you excellently put it, "and understanding its concept of distribution/releasing before posting such mindless rants?" maybe it would help you in the long run
47 • Distribution = OS + Applications (by Ariszlo at 2004-05-13 07:02:34 GMT)
Does flavor mean something else? If not what's the problem? You need a common term for a common thing, otherwise you are missing a generalization. Why prefer OS-specific terms to OS-neutral terms?
48 • What to call BSDs (by CJ on 2004-05-18 00:00:58 GMT)
I remember a while back that there was debate on how to refer to BSDs (i.e. distrobutions). I've seen them refered to as "projects" on most of thier websites. Maybe thats what you should call them.
BTW, I found one that should be listed on this site.
Number of Comments: 48
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