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Old 08-18-2004, 11:43 PM   #1
bad_ronald
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Concerning Best Distro/GUI for a Gateway PIII 667MHz


Hey everyone; it's my first post...and I have a detailed question:

When I came home from college, the old Gateway computer was wrecked by my brother (I bought a new Dell 2.4 GHz for myself two years ago), and the Win 98 Install CD for the Gateway is (predictably) missing. Since my brother now has his own lap top (it's his first year in college) the old computer is just sitting there in its un-bootable state. Since this computer is now practically useless, I figured this provides a perfect opportunity to set up a Linux box; unfortunately the specs are not looking too hot.

The Gateway's Specs:

-CPU: Pentium III @ 667MHz
-RAM: 64MB
-Drives: Generic 3 1/2 Floppy; Hewett-Packard CD-R @ 16x ; Generic Gateway CD-ROM @ 10x (Useless, I know)
-Graphics Card: Generic gateway (I can't remember the VRAM)

*Note: Without an OS figuring out the hardware is difficult; I either have to remember or try to find it in the BIOS

So, there it is; brutal, no? However, I would like to try to set up some type of linux installation. I've tried Mandrake before (9.2 I think) and it wasn't too bad, aside from getting used to the differences (which I don't mind).

The Question: Which distro would be best for this system? -and- Which Desktop GUI (sorry if I don't know the proper term; I mean KDE or Gnome, etc.) would be best?

I'd imagine that the GUI would be the biggest problem due to this system's RAM limitations, but I don't really know, so that's why I'm asking. I don't mind working with unusual GUI's either; I've modded my Windows XP installation to a degree that it is not recognizable. I'm really looking for acceptable performance more so than colorful graphics.

Thanks in advance for all replies.
 
Old 08-19-2004, 12:00 AM   #2
nuka_t
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any modern distro should be fine on that.

as for a window manager (the gui thingy), id suggest either fluxbox or icewm. if this is the first time you really use linux, id go with icewm as fluxbox is a little more advanced. icewm looks and functions a bit like windows, and the themes in it arent too bad. fluxbox looks OK too. its all personal preference, i like KDE the most, but i wouldnt recommend it for tha computer. so just use icewm and after a week or so just download and install fluxbox.
 
Old 08-19-2004, 12:15 AM   #3
vdogvictor
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let me tell of my experience to help you decide. Here are the specs of my computer

Pentium I MMX 233 MHz
192 MB RAM
735MB Hard Drive
1 MB video RAM

I currently have Slackware (nothing else fits nicely into 735 MB) with KDE and it runs great. I will admit the 192 MB of RAM helps out a lot, but I think w/ the added speed on your computer it will compensate for the RAM, plus old used PC100 RAM is cheap and easy to install. I have used icewm and couldn't figure out how to make dekstop Icons (I am 99% sure you cannot even do it) and fluxbox is nice, but hard to configure. Use KDE if you can, and I am pretty sure you can. And if you need to find out about your hardware specs use a live cd there are many of them, Knoppix, DNA Linux, Damn Small Linux, Gnoppix, SuSE Live eval, Mandrake Move...is SLAX a live cd? I'm not sure.
 
Old 08-19-2004, 12:30 AM   #4
bad_ronald
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Thanks for the replies,

I'm gonna download Mandrake 10.0 tonight... I'll post a follow-up when I get it running. I'll just try IceWM and KDE to see what works best. I forgot to mention that the hard drive is approximately 16GB, so the OS footprint isn't an issue; I stilll think that the RAM will be a problem, but I guess the only way to find out if the processor will compensate for it is to try to run Mandrake and KDE.

If anyone knows whether or not any other distro is superior to Mandrake from a memory usage perspective that would be very helpful. (I think vdogvictor chose Slackware because of hard drive space considerations)
 
Old 08-19-2004, 12:49 AM   #5
vdogvictor
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Since mandrake is for noobs it tends to turn on every service/process it can, which takes up memory (it does that so that noobs won't have to do it) distros like slackware gentoo and debian don't do that as much so it will use less memory. However it is simply a matter of turning off all the services/proccesses you do not need and stopping them from auto starting (tons of threads on that) I like SuSE better than mandrake because of YaST which is like the control panel in Windows. Make sure you make a lot of swap space btw.
 
Old 08-19-2004, 01:53 AM   #6
nuka_t
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i hate suse. yast is extremely slow.

anyway, its impossible to make destop icons in icewm.

also, the livecd suggestion is a very bad idea. first, with taht slow cd drive, it will spin slowly and the access times will take forever, second, you need at least 128mb ram to use a livecd.
 
Old 08-19-2004, 02:13 AM   #7
vdogvictor
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I have used Damn Small Linux on as little as 32 megs on a 486.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 08:03 PM   #8
bad_ronald
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Just one problem...

I installed Mandrake 10.0 and it went off without a hitch...or so I thought. The problem is that only two Window Managers are available from the login screen. (In case this is necessary, I set-up the system to log in multiple users; from there one selects the user name, which opens a new window which both prompts for the password and requires that you select a window manager) The only options available are: KDE, IceWM, Default, and Failsafe. Am I missing something obvious? During the installation process I checked the boxes for KDE, Gnome, and "Alternative Window Mangers" (which gave approximately four examples of such "alternatives" that I can't remember). Is it normal for Mandrake to only allow one to choose from these four options, or should Gnome, etc. be available from the login screen?

If anyone can't help with the Mandrake specific login problem. but knows how to switch window managers from the terminal or within KDE/IceWm's GUI that would also be very helpful.

Also, I opted to allow Mandrake to handle the partioning (since this system will not be dual boot), so I don't know how much swap space it allocated... How do you determine the size of the swap partition once the installation is through? I would imagine that it allocated 128MB (i.e. twice the RAM, but I would like to check).

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By the way, KDE is rather slow with this system's specs and IceWM works very welll; thanks to all for the prior input.
 
Old 08-20-2004, 11:29 PM   #9
vdogvictor
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i believe the command is "switchdesk" I would try it right now, but I don't want to exit KDE at the moment lol. Adding more RAM would definently let KDE run a lot faster because as I said w/ 192 MB of RAM on a Pentium MMX 233MHz it runs fine. (of course you still may want to end all those processes/services that are running in the back ground)
 
Old 08-20-2004, 11:43 PM   #10
nuka_t
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gnome should be there. go check rpm drake to see if it was installed or not. anyway, gnome performance is sismilair to kde, so there really isnt a need for it. just stick to icewm.
 
  


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