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Hey i recently got a free pc form a friend. They had it kicking around and i figured mabey i could use linux on it, well the pc i received today had specs a little lower then i though (was expecting a 166MHz) instead i got this:
Intel 486SX2 50 Mhz
32 Mb of ram
My question is what version of linux would be a good choice for this machine? So far i have looked at Damn Small linux (http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/) and Vector Linux. Any other suggestions? I would just use this machine for simple web browsing or IRC/IMing. I would like some sort of X windows system (IceWM, Blackbox, Fluxbox, any other lite GUI)
I think you need to stick with text. You could use Lynx for browsing. Most GUIs will not install in so little disc space. Your display may not be up to much, either. The machine could serve as a print server or DNS server or such. You drive is probably very slow by today's standards.
If you absolutely must do it to claim you had done it once, try slackware. It will install in 16 mB but was barely usable at 166MHz. Slackware has a step by step text mode install that allows working well in a small space. You may have to pick packages by hand to get it to fit with little freespace left on disc.
Back in 1996, I installed Slackware (possibly version 3.6) on a 386 with a rudimentary X Windows GUI. I was sick of WindoZZZe 3.1, so I purchased a CDROM drive specifically to install Slackware.
Needless to say, Linux made that old 386 sing compared to Winblows. The GUI was slow-- almost to the point of being useless-- but it worked.
It's amazing how my old Amiga ran AmigaDOS quite well on a 7.14MHz 68000 chip with 512KB of RAM in 1986, yet Win95 has a hard time running on a 50MHz 80486 with 32MB of RAM. It's also amazing how Win98 refuses to install on the same 50MHz box, yet I coerced its installation by swapping the drive into a different computer first. It runs, but not fast.
Please report your experience back here.. I'd like to install Linux on an old 486 myself.
well i was looking on the vector linux forums and i have discovered Vector Linux 1.8. Somone on their forums recomended it to me, i havnt found a iso for it yet (havnt looked much yet) but vector sells copies for 12 bucks off their site. Here is the description of it:
VECTORLINUX 1.8 STANDARD EDITION.........$11.97usd (+s&h)
Released late 2000 Features the ultra stable 2.2.18 kernel This is an excellent choice for that dusty old 486 sitting in the closet. Has the XFree-3.3.6 gui and full development package. Recommends 16 megs of ram and 175 megs HD space for installation.
As you can tell it doesnt contain cutting edge software (2.2 kernel!) but people on their forums have told me it will run on a 486 with 16 mb of ram with X running. So i am probably going to try this.
intel 486 DX 33 Mhz
24 Mb RAM (might have been 32, but im sure it was 24 MB)
420 MB hard disk
floppy / cd-rom
and i got it to load gnome, which worked fine (but slow). i then switched to i think it was enloghtenment as a lighter WM. mandrake also worked ok. so 32 MB ram GUI isnt a problem.
oh, and i got a computer from one of my dad's friends running at 50 Mhz, 32 MB ram running redhat 5.0 (i even got the redhat 5 cd to it also, which is what orignally got me to learn about linux). 32 MB ram isnt a problem for GUI. i think redhat 5 used something like fvwm95, which is the windows 95 look-a-like winow manager.
Vector is probably your best bet unless you want to custom build up something from scratch. I did do a base install of Debian on a computer with over twice the processing speed, but just a little more memory (48 megs). I updated it to run Xfree3.x + Fluxbox and everything else need on it (web browsers, networking utilities, various servers, etc) and the whole thing sits in about 400 megs or so. Remember you will need some space researved for a swap partition, probably at least 50 mb.
Try to find some more memory for that machine, GUI's and Web browsers are real memory hogs. Maybe someone can give you a DX2-66 as well (unless that MB has the extra regulator to power the DX4's and AMD-586 processors), which would be a slight upgrade.
Dillo is a simple but fast Web browser that is worth having on a machine like that. It can only deal with simple sites (no Java, https, plugins, etc), then Opera is fairly lite, and Mozilla Firebird (now called Firefox) is a dieting pig, yet might do okay once you survive the long wait as it loads.
Another posibility is the "Links" browser version that will do graphics on Linux framebuffer (X not required). I think DamnSmall had this one installed and read-to-go if you can get a frame buffer with enough color depth going on that old computer.
Well from the opinons seem here i think i am going to give Vector a try, its based on slackware so i should also learn alot in the process . People tell me that they learn more in one week with slack based distros then they learn in years of RH or MDK, since Slackware doesnt really assist you much. Thats fine, good use for a 486, help me under stand linux better while not risking my main linux box. I have been doing some research and people recomend vector 1.8 for this pc, i have a copy of vector 4, should i even bother giving it a try or just get 1.8?
As for a web browser i have used Opera on very old windows pc's and i do agree that if it is properly setup can be lite. Short of that i can try dillo and Firefox.
Vector and it's once near twin Peanut was what got me into Slackware in the first place. I liked both of them, but they lacked documentation and since they were slimmed down distro's, it seemed like there was always some app missing that I needed, and it isn't always the easiest thing to add apps to a Slackware distro.
So I went to "real" Slackware and liked it better (I'm using Slack 9.1 right now). You can install "real" Slackware on that machine too if you like. The problem is that because of no dependancy checking in Slacks package manager, you really have to know what you are doing when you select what you are going to install vs strip out of your installation. This is why I like Debian better for this kind of thing. Many people start with "ZIP-Slack" and build up from there instead of trying to strip down the full Slackware. I'm not convinced that this is the best way to do it however.
1.8 was the last Vector I ever tried, because I've only been interested in installing it on old computers with limited memory and hard drive space. I pretty sure I still have it on an old 400 meg hard drive laying around somewhere. If Vector's installer has improved to the point where you can choose NOT to install things like KDE and other large packages that version 4 probably has but you won't likely be able to use, then it might work for you. Otherwise I would stay with 1.8 with the Xfree3.x root file system, which also contains nicely configured lightweight window managers.
My biggest problem with Opera is that I never bothered to buy it (shame on me), therefore I always had the nasty advertizing banner. The problem was that along with old computers was that they also had old displays that could only do about 800x600, which makes GUI desktop space a premium. I just couldn't stand the space wasted by the ad banner. Dillo is great for sites like lwn.net or google, but chokes on sites like LinuxQuestions.org. You'll need to have a full featured browser installed for use on more complicated sites.
DamnSmall is a Damn Nice distro too, I wouldn't rule it out. Where as Vector is getting to be a bigger/fatter distro, DamnSmall seems committed to staying Damn Small and seems to being very actively worked on currently. You should be able to download the dpkg.tar.gz which should make Apt-get work correctly again and then you can easily customize things from there, (begining with installing "synaptic"!).
yeah i got apt for rpm on red hat 8 with synaptic and its nice. So vecotr 1.8 doesnt even have dependency detection? wow, mabye ive gotten into more then i thought :-/ I knew i would have to use ras for everything but i thought it would at least tell me when im missing stuff.
Oh and i dont think v 4 has KDE unless you buy the retail version.
Actually it's not as bad as you'd think. For smaller untangled apps (like NOT KDE or Gnome), I would install the binary, then do an "ldd <binaryname> and it would list all the dependancies. Then I would hunt down anything I don't already have. I used to be able to do this faster then trying to get RPM to install something that it would refuse to install for some reason (like it thought it was already installed when it wasn't).
I think there are some projects going to try to bring dependancy checking into Slackware, but this has been one of my biggest complaints about Slackware. Despite my complaints, I've really had amazingly little trouble getting new apps to run on Slackware, but it is harder then just doing an "apt-get <name>" and not only have it installed, but have all my window manager menus updated as well.