seeking lightweight desktop environment for lower spec PCs
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I watch the distrowatch.com feeds for news of new linux ideas. After years of fighting RedHat and Mandrake installers, I found the Knoppix livecd and it progeny. I will never install a standard distribution again.
Just this week and new distro (development release) from Taiwan called PUD appeared with a pared down version of ubuntu (under 200MB) and a new Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) that I had never heard of. Although my 256MB RAM desktop runs fine on zenwalk linux, based on slack, I'm always looking at new offerings for smaller pcs.
PUD Linux booted up fine, but, like any most ubuntu distros, it sets my screen resolution at 640x480! (What not let me choose the res like any sensible distro? Those really big icons and fonts reminded me why I usually stay clear of ubuntu.) Although the taskbar said the network card was not working, it really was! The LXDE environment was using icewn for the display and the speed was okay considering my lack of RAM. The docs say that you can use fluxbox and xfce for your desktop, too.
If you are scouting around for a smaller distro or have an affinity for debian/ubuntu, you might want to look at PUD GNU/Linux.
Thread: seeking lightweight desktop environment for lower spec PCs
A choice you should consider is Vector Linux. VL is a Slackware based distribution with a smaller footprint than Slack so it is a great choice on old hardware. Several posters have mentioned IceWM as a window manager. This plays well with Vector Linux, the setup program VASM is real simple. I used an old version of VL on a ThinkPad 760XL, Pentium 166MMX, 104MB of ram, to crunch several hundred SETI@home work units, using the classic (pre-BOINC) SETI@home software. The installation program is very simple, though somewhat limited. VL will expect you to have two and only two Linux partitions / and /home plus swap. So if you like a multi partition scheme like a seperate partition for /usr/local for example then VL isn't for you. I have used various distros and the only ones I truly didn't like are Mandriva 10.0 and Ubantu Breezy Badger... YMMV
I have an old laptop (Pentium II, 300MHz, 127MB of RAM). I have a minimal install of Debian, and for xsession Openbox and ROX-Filer (using the panel option - I have 2-button mouse but with 3-button Rox can be used for desktop background too). They are both in the Debian repository so they can both be "apt-got" .
I first installed the system a while ago, with Debian Woody, then updated to Sarge and now recently to Etch. The main reason for the last dist-upgrade was that OpenOffice2 kept on crashing with Sarge and I had to use OO1.3. Sarge had 2.4 kernel, Etch has 2.6
I have e.g. OpenOffice2, Firefox, Dillo for quick browsing on simple pages, Sylpheed Mail, GSview for viewing ps and pdf-files (xpdf is really lightweight alternative, if you don't need to view ps-files), GQview for viewing photos.
I think even XFCE is nowadays fairly heavy, begins to resemble Gnome... I installed Xubuntu on my Desktop (Pentium III) but prefer Openbox & Rox there too.
I am using Slax (based on Slackware) on my old 500MHz AMD 128MB computer and I am very satisfied with it. It is quite fast although the main Desktop Manager is KDE. Yuo can use fluxbox also. It "weights" only about 200MB. You can use it as a Live CD, copy it to HD and boot it from there, boot it directly from iso on HD drive, install it as a regular distro and have it like mini Slackware. It is made in a modular fashion. Yuo can add software packaged in modules. There is a Slax repository of modules and you can easely build yuor own. What to say, just give it a try
I have had e16 working really nicely on old machines, elive is a cool distro to easily use this. DSL is probably the coolest on a really old machine and it has good online help and support. Try Xandros with Abiword... I like OO Calc but it is resource heavy.
I like the latest DSL, Puppy and Elive configurations for antique computers, it is good to have software that breathes new life into "old" computers.
Minime is a stripped down version of a VERY GOOD rpm-based distro. Sam linux is a remake of PCLinuxOS using fluxbox (I think) instead of the default KDE. Texstar and The Ripper Gang have got a REALLY nice distro. You might give it a look. It's available as a live cd with a QUICK installer.
Distribution: Mepis 7.0 i386, Mandriva, Ubuntu 9.04, All windows OS's
I spent years mucking around with various versions of Mandrake. I used an old computer to make a box for my mother to send and receive email. Both Mandrake version 9.0 and 9.1 would run with KDE as the desktop. The box was a Pentium I (Yes one) running at some unimaginably slow clock speed (100MHz I think). You went and made tea while it booted up but then it would do all the things required. I don't think Open Office was quite what it is now (in fact I think it was Star Sun Office) but it would certainly run K-Word quite nicely. Setting up the internet connection was a manual affair and my mother was using kppp to connect using dialup. This was an excellent use of a really aging computer as really accessing the internet was all she wanted to do. I was able to configure it to print all do all the home office things quite well.
I am sure some of the older versions of other distro's would also be worth looking at as we all used to run Pentium I's at some stage.
As an aside I eventually abandoned Mandrake/Mandriva for SimplyMepis which I have found excellent but this will not load well on older machines.
I have Slack 10.2 on an old P2-300 toshiba laptop. I did a minimal package install (A,AP,D,L,N,X,XAP). I've used xfce on it, works good. Lately I've been using fluxbox and xffm (xfce file manager) for file browsing. Flux is quite a bit quicker than xfce. I also use openoffice with this machine, it takes a minute to start the program but it is bearable. acpi and wireless work perfectly.
I have distro hopped in the past, (Debian, *buntu, Suse, Mandriva, Fedora, etc. etc. etc...) but I have always came back to Slackware. you might have to edit a few config files but nine times out of ten everything will work good. Plus Slackware is fast! Zenwalk is also a good alternative to Slackware. It is Slack based and comes with default xfce desktop and a default 2.6 kernel... All of this is just my opinion, try them all and see which one you like
I often get old PCs from the city dump.... for some people who sell them at the car boot sale. They often have unbootable illegal copies of XP on their hard drives I low level format the entire drive....
I use DSL to test them and then install somthing with XFCE, Enilghtenment, Blackbox or Fluxbox.
DSL is great for the really old ones with 64MB Ram but anything more and I will install Puppy, Elive or Xldf.
I then configure the latest multimedia codecs and plugins, test a few web pages and configure the best available settings on the graphics cards.
I take great pleasure knowing that the people who buy these ridiculously cheap computers are using probably all legal software that works really well and they have never seen before. The guys who sell it just say they always ask if it has Windows XP on (yes people are that dumb) and they tell them that it has the best software for the computer's hardware and that it is virus free and newly installed.
It is a great sideline to test out low specification distributions.
Basket_case made a good recommendation, "You can try to disable unrequired services, such as apache, bind, etc." There's lots more services running besides the big ones like apache. Go through the list of services in Xubuntu and kill the ones you can do with out. Also go the list of all apps and programs installed and remove (delete) the ones you don't use. Many apps such as OO have features that are duplicated by individual programs, just use what Ubuntu and OO offer and get rid of the duplicate or similar programs. This always works for me in Mandriva/KDE and even Windows.
BTW, OO 2.0 is supposed to be faster than earlier versions, I havn't tried it yet, but it's what I read.